Consumer display technology has evolved into an alphabet soup of words beginning with the letters “LED” at some point.
We’ll give a quick rundown of the most prevalent initialisms used in the realm of TV, PC, and laptop displays in this condensed guide. We’ll concentrate on how each technology affects anticipated image quality to keep things simple. We have everything you need, whether you’re searching for a convenient reminder for the next time you go shopping or a brief, easily readable guide to share with curious friends and family.
Most likely, a liquid crystal display is where you are reading this (LCD). Any display type that makes use of liquid crystals is referred to as a “LCD,” including TN, IPS, and VA (which we’ll discuss in a moment). An LCD can be used in anything from a digital watch to a dated calculator. However, a screen’s performance cannot be determined by its basic “LCD” label. You need further details, such as the panel’s backlight type, which is often either LED or the more expensive Mini LED.
Plasma and cathode ray tube (CRT) displays were long ago supplanted by LCDs as the standard consumer display technology. Cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) backlights were frequently seen in LCDs in the past, however most LCD displays currently employ LED backlights (more on that below).
TN vs. IPS vs. VA
The three most common varieties of LCD displays used in laptops, monitors, and TVs are TN, IPS, and VA. Their approaches to using liquid crystals are all different. We’ll keep it simple here by concentrating on the distinctions you may expect to see in real life, even if each could merit its own post.
Twisted nematic displays are renowned for their low cost and high refresh rates. To allow light to get through, their liquid crystals are twisted 90 degrees.
In general, TN panels are less expensive than IPS and VA displays.
Although more expensive IPS and VA are coming up, TN displays are more easily capable of achieving high refresh rates and quick response times. It’s important to note that the Asus ROG Swift 500 Hz Gaming Display, which will reportedly be the fastest monitor on the market, achieves its refresh rate ostensibly through a “E-TN” panel with allegedly 60 percent faster response times than ordinary TN. TN is still the technology pushing the limits of refresh rates, even though you can get a super-fast IPS (up to 360 Hz) or VA monitor.
- TN reproduces colours less accurately than IPS and VA.
- Additionally, TN has narrower viewing angles than IPS and VA, making it more difficult to see the image from above or at an angle.
In-plane switching displays use liquid crystals that are parallel to the glass layers and are renowned for their wide viewing angles and vivid colours. To allow light to pass, the crystals rotate in parallel.
- In comparison to VA and TN screens, IPS panels offer wider viewing angles.
- IPS has larger, deeper colour gamuts than competitors, especially TN.
- Over the past few years, IPS displays, particularly monitors, have grown in popularity.
- A fast IPS panel costs significantly more than a TN panel with a same refresh rate.
- IPS displays are frequently more expensive than VA ones.
Displays with vertical alignment are renowned for their vibrant contrast. Their liquid crystals tilt and are perpendicular to the glass substrates, permitting light to pass through.
Contrast, which is frequently regarded as the most crucial aspect of image quality, is where VA panels truly shine. Contrast ratios on VA monitors are frequently 3,000:1, while those on IPS displays are typically 1,000:1. The new IPS Black screens, which debuted this year, promise to increase contrast from standard IPS monitors to up to 2,000:1. When we tested the Dell UltraSharp U2723QE with IPS Black, the difference was clear.
While not always, VA displays are frequently less expensive than comparable IPS choices.
In general, VA monitors cost more than TN monitors.
Although there are many VA displays available, IPS has started to become increasingly popular.
Though not all LCDs are LEDs, all LCDs are also LCDs. Because of this, TN, VA, or IPS displays are frequently referred to as “LCD-LED” displays. A quick reminder: Some businesses use the terminology interchangeably, so don’t be confused if you see “W-LED” instead of just “LED” (the “W” stands for “white”).
Light-emitting diodes, which are tiny semiconductors that resemble lightbulbs, are used in LED displays to emit the light that passes through glass substrates and liquid crystals to generate images.
The LEDs are positioned around the panel’s edges in a less expensive “edge-lit” LED display. For more even lighting, full-array LED backlights disperse the LEDs throughout the display.
Because the abbreviation “QLED” resembles “OLED,” a distinct type of display, the marketing phrase can be confusing. The “Q” stands for “quantum dot,” and a QLED display is actually a sort of LED panel that Samsung utilises in its TVs. According to Samsung, quantum dots enable TVs to produce images that are more vibrant than those possible on regular LED panels. Not to be confused with OLED panels, these are still LED displays and won’t provide nearly as much contrast.
LED displays with local dimming
Because they give users more control over how much brightness is present in various areas of an image, LED displays with backlights that support local dimming are popular for HDR content. Because the image is divided into zones, the display can show various brightness levels in each zone. When used properly, the technique significantly boosts contrast for HDR content, resulting in more nuanced and detailed images.
On an LED display, HDR can be used without local dimming, also known as global dimming, so that the entire image has the same brightness level. However, your HDR movie or game will appear exactly the same as it would on an SDR screen.
Local dimming is a less expensive approach than OLED or regular LED to increase contrast, although pictures can exhibit blooming, sometimes known as “the halo effect.” This happens when light from a brilliant portion of an image leaks into an adjacent dark area, making, for example, the black levels around white letters appear grayer.
That gets us to the Mini LED LED display subcategory. All Mini LED displays are LCDs since they all use LED technology. Mini LED displays are covered by everything we’ve discussed so far.
The size of the light-emitting diodes utilised in their backlights determines how LED displays and Mini LED displays differ from one another. Mini LEDs are roughly half as big as regular LEDs. This enables businesses to use more LEDs in their displays. It is simpler to generate more local dimming zones for better contrast when there are more LEDs present.
Compared to regular LED displays, mini LED monitors can provide significantly more contrast. For a lot less money than OLED, a high-contrast VA screen plus a Mini LED backlight can produce contrast gains that many users would consider just slightly worse than OLED.
Mini LED screens are often brighter than OLED choices, just like LED displays in general.
not subject to burn-in like OLED.
Compared to LED monitors, mini LED displays are more expensive and uncommon. But recently, some less expensive Mini LED choices with different quality have emerged as a result of the growth of OLED.
In terms of image quality that improves contrast, Mini LED is two levels below OLED and one step below Micro LED (which is practically impossible to get in a consumer display).