IPS vs. LCD Monitors: What’s the Difference?

Person playing video games on high-resolution tv

IPS vs. LCD Monitors: What’s the Difference?

Liquid crystal display (LCD) technology is one of the most widely used screen technologies. It’s instantly recognizable because of its iconic flat-panel display.

In fact, within LCD, there are several technologies each with its own strengths and weaknesses when it comes to rendering images and video effectively. 

In-plane switching (IPS) is an LCD technology that has a great track record for creating high-utility screens.

If you’re wondering what makes IPS different and if it is the right display choice for your viewing desires, this article will compare IPS and LCD technologies with an explanation of how both work and the features they bring to your experience.

IPS vs. LCD Monitors: A Side-by-Side Comparison

What is it?Screen technology for LCD displays Liquid Crystal Display
Primary UseLCD television screens, computer monitors, e-paper, smartwatches LCD screens
Name In-Plane SwitchingTwisted nematic (TN), Vertical Alignment (VA)
Initial Release 19961980s
Consumer ReleaseIPS screens were first released to consumers by Hitachi in 1996The first LCD television screens were released in Japan in 1980
Influential Developers Guenter
Merck KGaA
Mainly Produced ByPanasonic, Phillips, SonyPanasonic, Phillips, Sony
Size Range23.8-inch to 85-inch options23.8-inch to 85-inch options
BacklightingYes Yes
Resolution 2560 x 1449p (quad high definition (QHD))1920 x 1080p
Viewing AngleUp to 178 degrees of viewing range45 to 65 degrees from the center of the screen
Picture Quality IPS renders colors accurately with excellent color consistencyInconsistent picture quality and resolution
GamingAble to support responsive gamingPoor responsiveness and low refresh rate
Technologies InfluencedLCD television screens, computer monitors, e-paper, smart watches, smartphonesTelevision screens, computer monitors

IPS vs. LCD: What’s the Difference?

IPS was developed to overcome critical limitations of legacy LCD technologies, like twisted nematic field effect (TN) matrix and vertical alignment (VA).

Here are the major features of in-plane switching (IPS) screens that make them distinct from other LCD technologies:

Wide Viewing Angles

IPS can achieve a much wider viewing angle than the older LCD technologies. It can achieve a viewing angle of up to 178 degrees in horizontal and vertical directions, making it an ideal LCD for wide-screen television viewing. 

Fast Refresh Rates

IPS screens can achieve rates that range from 60 Hz to as much as 390 Hz. This keeps IPS as a contender technology for gaming screens even though its response rate is not as fast as more modern screen technologies like OLED. 

Great Color Accuracy 

The linear response, higher bit depth, improved contrast, and image consistency give IPS screens exemplary color accuracy. They also have little to no color shift, which often affects VA displays.

An IPS screen can be confidently used for graphic and video design work if the resolution is suitable. It renders 256 colors faithfully, but its backlit screen creates a low native contrast ratio. 

A Wide Range of Form Factors

IPS retains its commercial appeal because of the sheer range of screens that are available, ranging from 23.8 inches right through to 85-inch options. 

IPS vs. LCD Monitors: 6 Must-Know Facts

  • IPS screen technology was pioneered by Hitachi who released the first IPS screen in 1996.
  • In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the twisted nematic field effect (TN) was the only commercially viable technology for LCD screens. 
  • TN LCDs have extremely slow response times, a narrow viewing angle, and poor color accuracy, especially when viewed from an angle. 
  • The versatility of IPS screen technology enables it to be used for a range of applications and devices, including televisions, smartphones, smartwatches, and tablets.
  • Like other LCDs, overheating of the screen can cause blackening defects. Manufacturers have developed liquid crystal formulations with a higher critical temperature to prevent this. 
  • Gravity defects can affect any type of LCD screen. This is where the cohesive power of the liquid crystal in the screen is low, causing it to flow down to the bottom of the screen with a yellowing defect. 

What is an IPS Monitor?

IPS monitors are LCDs that use in-plane switching technology.

With this type of LCD screen, the liquid crystals are in a plane that lies parallel to its glass substrate. Voltage is applied through opposing electrodes on the glass substrate to activate the crystals in a unified plane. Each pixel in an IPS screen requires two transistors to achieve this switching.

In addition to the liquid crystal, IPS screens include a polarizer and a backlight to make the displayed images visible.  

LCD TV monitor
In-plane switching (IPS) monitors are a type of liquid crystal display (LCD) screen, with some technological improvements.

The History of IPS

IPS technology was developed to deliver substantial improvements on the twisted nematic (TN) technology that preceded it.

Katsumi Kondo of Hitachi was a significant developer of IPS technology and, by 1992, Hitachi developers had established the principles of in-plane switching, later releasing the first IPS screen.

IPS technology has continued to be used for screens that include laptops, tablets, and even smartwatches. Its viewing angles, refresh rates, and color accuracy makes it a suitable screen for gaming and design applications.

What is An LCD Monitor?

Liquid crystal display is a display technology that uses the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals to render images in conjunction with a polarizer and backlight.

LCD was the first flat-panel display technology and has diversified over the last century to create screens suitable for a wide range of applications.

Apart from IPS, notable LCD technologies include: 

Twisted Nematic (TN) 

Twisted nematic (TN) LCD consists of liquid crystals that rotate (twist) to allow the passage of light when voltage is applied. Adjustments to the level of voltage lead to changes in light polarization and can be used to display an image.

Vertical Alignment 

Vertical alignment (VA) LCD uses a special kind of liquid crystal that aligns itself vertically to its glass substrate.

Without the application of voltage, the crystals remain in this position and the screen is dark. When voltage is applied, the crystals shift to a tilted position allowing light to pass through and an image to become visible. VA can achieve greater contrast than IPS, but it is still hampered by an extremely narrow viewing angle. 

The History of LCD

The concept of liquid crystal is more than 120 years old, with the nature and properties of these crystals first described by the Austrian chemist, Friedrich Reinitzer, in 1888.

By the 1960s, the electro-optic properties of liquid crystals were known and, later in the decade, the concept of TN LCD was advanced with the development of screens for watches and other displays during the 1970s.

The first LCD color television was developed in Japan in the early 1980s.

IPS vs. LCD Monitors: Which One is Better?

IPS monitors are the most advanced LCD technologies. They are still commercially viable with leading manufacturers like LG and Samsung selling IPS televisions with exemplary image quality.

Because IPS screens are a relatively older technology, it is possible to get a high-quality screen for prices that are much lower than the newer LED technologies. Older, TN LCD screens simply do not have the responsiveness, image quality, or color accuracy to render modern content effectively. They have become legacy technologies that are not being produced anymore.

Up Next…

  • Nano IPS vs. IPS Displays: What’s the Difference? They’re both varieties of liquid crystal displays invented by the brand LG. Which has slower response times and a wider color range? Discover all you need to know in this article.
  • IPS vs. LED Monitors: Which is Best for You? One offers wider viewing angles and enhanced screen consistency, while the other uses less energy, responds faster and offers better image quality. Find out which is which and what other differences set them apart.
  • LED vs. UHD: What’s the Difference? What are they precisely? Which one is a form of technology? Which one refers to a standard applied to screen resolution? Find out here

Frequently Asked Questions

What is motion blur?

Display motion blur or LCD motion blur is a phenomenon seen in LCD displays where the images are affected by a variety of visual artifacts due to slow pixel response time and adjustments to the screen resolution. The artifacts created include streaking, blurring, and trails following moving images.

What is the viewing angle of a TV?

Viewing angle is the angle at which you can view a screen without distortion of the images it displays. The viewing angle of a screen is narrow if a displayed image only appears intact when viewed directly or within a small angle of the central view. If you view the screen at an angle beyond this range, it will appear washed out, with color shift and brightness loss.

What is full-array local dimming (FALD) technology?

Full-array local dimming (FALD) technology involves the placement of a sophisticated matrix of LED lights as the backlighting of an IPS screen.

The matrix of LED is divided into dimming zones to provide nuanced, localized changes in the backlighting of the screen. These dimming zones are used to enhance contrast in the displayed images. The most advanced IPS LCD screens use FALD to counteract the low native contrast ratio of an IPS screen.

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