At Greenlight we’ve been working on a few new offerings over the last month or so, one being around email phishing/fraud and the other an information management solution. I hope to be able to bring you more info about these two things shortly, the former I should be able to begin discussing with you in the next week or two once we work out how best to package it up.This month I thought I’d talk about something we often don’t think about but is right before our eyes.With us spending, some would say, an unhealthy amount of time staring at a monitor. When looking at buying one, often we only consider its size in inches (measured across diagonally), what it looks like, and the price. But there is one other factor that we often don’t take in to consideration and that is the LCD panel type, as there are 2 main types of LCD panel and how they display the image is different and one can be better than the other for certain types of work and uses.The 2 main LCD panel types that you’re likely to see in the specs for a monitor are a TN and an IPS LCD panel.TN (Twisted Nematic) panels were the first LCD panel type that were widely produced and, and are still the widest-used panel type.An IPS (in-plane switching) panel was made to address the shortcomings of a TN panel, but it too is not without some negatives.So which one is better? Well as often is the case, it depends.To help explain how you can decide, you need to know the differences between them, so I’ll outline them very basically, below.
This is how far off-centre you can view the screen without the quality of the image degrading significantly.A TN panel has generally poor viewing angles, if you’re not square-on to your monitor then the image and colours will dull. This isn’t too much of a problem for office work as we almost always have a monitor straight in front of us.IPS panels offer much better viewing angles, so you can have this monitor at an angle to you with almost no change in colour representation at all, but when viewed from some extreme angles blacks may exhibit a glow from the backlight, which can be distracting in darker images.
This is colour accuracy, think if you design a brochure on the screen and you send it to the printers and when you get it back the colours aren’t exactly the ones you specified. This is colour accuracy.Response time, or how quickly the monitor can change the pixels on the screen.IPS panels offer more vibrant and accurate colour representation than TN panels. This is due to their better precision in how the light is passed through the LCD crystals.A TN panel can’t match an IPS for colour accuracy but they do win in refresh rate, although some of the more expensive IPS panels can match a TN. You will see these in Gaming monitors, with a hefty price tag. When does response time matter? Anything with fast moving images (some games, watching sport etc).
The difference between the brightest whites and the darkest blacksTN panels loose out here again to IPS offering higher contrast ratios. Higher contrast we generally associate with better image quality, it’s not entirely accurate but it’s maybe the easiest to tell the difference on.
So which one for an office PC?If the user is doing any design based work where colours on the screen need to be as close to what may be printed as possible, or if the user will have multiple monitors off-centre and doesn’t want the image to degrade, or just wants a vibrant and generally great viewing experience, then an IPS panel in monitor will give you that.Otherwise a TN panel is perfectly acceptable for general office use and is better for your budget.