LCD Panel Technology Explained

Published: 10th May 2011
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There are many different panel technologies used in the production of LCDs. They range from budget TN panels for expensive, professional quality S-IPS and S-PVA panels. The average consumer usually has no idea what panel technology used in their LCD. In fact, many power users also unaware, simply because the panel type is rarely listed by the manufacturer of the monitor specifications. Many users buy monitors based on price and size. The price should be a factor, but you should still know the pros and cons of the different LCD panel types and be able to identify them before you decide which LCD to buy.
IPS Panel Technology
S-IPS/H-IPS (In Plane Switching) panels are generally considered the best overall LCD technology for image quality, color accuracy and viewing angles, but it comes at a price. They are suitable for graphic design and other applications requiring accurate and consistent color reproduction. S-IPS panels offer the best angles for all current LCD technology, with wide viewing angle of up to 178 degrees. The response time of S-IPS is adequate, ranging from 6ms to 16ms with current panels. This is only slightly slower than TN panels. However, players should take this into account. Fast-paced games may suffer from motion blur or ghosting with S-IPS panels that have a response time higher than 8 ms. IPS LCD's is an adequate stopgap technology until the screen OLED displays are commercially viable.

S-IPS panels can be identified buy a little purple hue on blacks when viewed from a wide angle. There are currently few manufacturers using S-IPS panels in comparison with the other panels types of choices limited and they often have a higher price tag. H-IPS is a newer variation of the S-IPS with a second pixel structure, which improves contrast ratio and lowers the pixel pitch in order to provide better image quality.
VA Panel Technology
VA (Vertical Alignment) technology such S-PVA/MVA the middle of the road LCD panels. They offer better color reproduction and wider viewing angles than TN panels, but have slower response times. They are very similar to S-IPS on paper. They also offer wide viewing angles and good color rendition, but not as good as S-IPS. Response times are generally worse than TN or S-IPS panels, and there have been reports of a few panels that suffer from input lag, so maybe VA technology can not be the best choice for fast paced games.

VA panels have the advantage of higher contrast ratios compared to other panel types, which leads to better black levels. The main disadvantage of VA panels is color shifting. Color shifting is when the image seen from one angle changes or "shifts" when viewed from a slightly different angle, makes various uneven brightness levels across the display. This bothers many users to the point that they will not even consider buying a VA based panel, while other users will not notice / aren 't bothered by the color changes. Colour change also cause loss of shadow detail in dark scenes when viewed directly from the center. VA panels are much easier to find compared to the IPS, because so many manufacturers use them. They offer a better picture quality than TN is cheaper than IPS based panels.

TN panel technology

Example of viewing angles commonly found with TN-based LCD TFT module .
TN (twisted nematic) are the most common type of panel in the manufacturing of LCDs. TN panels are cheap and offer excellent response times, making them perfect for fast paced games. Response times of current TN panels range from 2ms to 5ms. However, color reproduction, viewing angles and contrast ratios of TN panels are the worst of all current LCD panel technology. Unlike most 8-bit IPS / VA panels are TN only 6-bit and unable to display the full 16.7 million colors available in 24-bit true colors. They can mimick the 16.7 million colors of 8-bit panels using a technique called dithering, but the results are not impressive. TN panels have become popular with the average computer user because they are very cheap and currently dominate the China LCD module market availability.




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