Display Panels, what are they, which one suits you best

By on August 3, 2018
LCD screen

Display technologies have come really far in these past few years. From the venerable LCD screen that started it all, there are now quite a few other different technologies that have started making an appearance in the mass market. Identifying the display panel that come with your screen is quite easy as while shopping for TVs or Monitors, you should come across some terminologies like “TN” or “IPS” on the front of the packaging box. While this isn’t anything that grabs the attention of the average shopper instantly, it is indeed the thing that could make or break your viewing experience if you pick the wrong one. However it goes without saying that for most of the time the average shopper doesn’t know this and it doesn’t even matter as long as the end results are satisfactory.

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To understand the pros and cons of each of the various different panels, let’s break them down and their use cases.

  1. Twisted Nematic (TN) Panels: These are the most common and the most widely available screen panel that is currently sold. It can be found on most computer monitors, smartphones and TV’s that you see everywhere. TN is also the cheapest display panel because of its age and less complicated construction and if your monitor or TV doesn’t state anything about its display technology out of the box, there is a good chance that it is using a TN panel.

Pros

  • TN panels have the fastest response times, making them exceptionally good at fast paced gaming or stereoscopic 3D.
  • Refresh rates on TN panels can range anywhere between 60Hz-240HZ.
  • They are incredibly affordable on the lower end.

Cons

  • The have the least accurate colour representation among any display panel.
  • They have the most abysmal viewing angles and colour shift is quite evident depending on your viewing angle.
  • Suffers from significant backlit bleed. 
  1. Vertical Alignment (VA) Panel: This is an evolution of the TN and was developed to be an in-the –middle option between IPS and TN. Like TN panels, these also use Liquid crystals and electrical current in combination with polarized glass to control the flow of light, however due to its different assembly and construction, VA panels are much better than TN panels when it comes to improving on its shortcomings.

Pros

  • Significantly better colour reproduction than TN Panels
  • Deeper blacks than both TN and IPS Panels
  • Improved Viewing angles than TN
  • Relatively inexpensive 

Cons

  • Although the viewing angles are better than TN, it isn’t on the same level as IPS or OLED’s.
  • The response times are allegedly faster than IPS but not on the same level as TN.
  • The Grey to Grey response times aren’t great and could sometimes produce ghosting effects in fast paced gaming scenarios.
  • More Expensive than TN but that is to be expected.

 

  1. In Plane Switching (IPS): It is arguably the fastest growing display type right now and is found on most of the smartphones that we use today. IPS was created mainly to address the shortcomings of TN panels however it ended up being significantly better in a few areas. Unlike TN’s, IPS use a parallel arrangement of the crystal matrix to develop colour instead of vertical and the results of which are as mentioned below:

Pros

  • IPS has some of the best viewing angles among all old panel types
  • It has very little colour shift when viewed from extreme angles.
  • It has the most accurate colour representation among all panel types, making them suitable for people who work with colour a lot like video editing and photo editing.
  • Many other iterations of the IPS have been developed since its inception like PLS, AH-IPS, S-IPS, P-IPS and so on, to crater to different needs.

Cons

  • IPS is still a relatively expensive panel type
  • Has more power consumption than its priors
  • IPS still hasn’t reached the refresh rates of TN or VA making them unsuitable for fast paced competitive gaming.
  1. OLED: This technology is possibly the future for all display types. OLED displays produce stunning images, period. OLED is essentially used in the very best of everything, like smartphones, TV’s and monitors. The way OLED technology works is a little different. In a normal LCD display, there is a backlight that shines light on liquid crystals which allow or restrict the flow of light depending on the current flowing through them. There is a film of RGB filter on the top of the liquid crystals, on which the light falls and then the desired colour is produced. OLED uses basically the same principle but with a giant difference, there is no backlight. Instead light is produced by organic crystals which shine when current passes through them. The result being the ability to completely turn off the individual pixel when not in use. This is precisely why OLEDs have practically infinite black levels. With that said here are the pros and cons: 

Pros

  • Practically Infinite black levels and substantially higher contrast
  • Rich colours
  • Its shape can be adjusted as per requirement, typically seen in curved TV’s and smartphones like the Galaxy S9 and iPhone X.

Cons

  • Seriously expensive to manufacture
  • Prone to pixel degradation overtime, especially the blue filter
  • Still not as fast as TN’s when it comes to response times.

So conclusion then, which one is right for you?

Competitive Gaming: A high quality TN panel is just right for you. The high refresh rates will ensure that you have a pleasant time getting ahead of your enemy.

Single Player: Either a good VA or IPS panel is just right for this. You need to see the colours in games such as Skyrim and Witcher 3.   

Media Consumption: IPS, OLED and VA panels are all good for the job; however, avoid TN if possible as the poor viewing angles will ruin the experience. Also there is another panel type named QLED but there are only a few handful displays that even feature this panel type, nevertheless, it is a good panel too for media consumption.

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