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Official Guide to LCD Displays

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Aug 20, 2012
Welcome to the official guide to understanding the LCD display. This guide will be cut and dry with important key features of each technology. Once you understand the basic's you'll well on your way to understanding LCD display types.

  • e-IPS, S-IPS/H-IPS/Super PLS panels are generally considered the best all around panel type
  • S-PVA/MVA/VA panels offer better color reproduction and viewing angles than TN panels, have slightly worse response times than TN or IPS, offer the best contrast ratios, may suffer from color shifting or input lag and have higher availability than IPS and Super PLS panels. Mid range, fair price.
  • TN panels are very cheap and have the fastest response times, but suffer from inferior color reproduction, contrast ratios and viewing angles. The majority of LCD monitors produced use TN panels. Low end, inexpensive.

Important Key features to look for
  • Viewing Angle
  • Pixel Pitch Smaller is better.
    + from 0.165 mm to 0.314 mm
  • Resolution
  • Screen size
  • Response Time (Anything > 16ms is ideal however hard-core gamers would like that number lower, > 8ms)
  • Display Colors
  • Brightness (what is a nit?) 1 nit is equal to 1 candela per square meter or cd/m²
    + LCD Monitors are from 150 nits to 700 nits - This is a personal preference
  • Aspect ratio (16:9 or 16:10)
  • Video Ports (VGA,DVI, HDMI, Display Port, Thunderbolt)
  • USB
  • Panel Type
  • Back light type
    + CFL (Compact Florescent)
    + LED (Light Emitting Diode)

Viewing Angle
You are probably thinking to yourself, "Viewing angle?, I sit right on front of it!" This is true in a single monitor setup, however you may upgrade your rig to support multiple displays, and viewing angle would be a key feature to look at for this type of setup. LCD's in general have limited viewing angles. A theoretical viewing angle of 180 degrees would mean that it is fully visible from any angle in front of the screen. A higher viewing angle is preferred over a lower angle unless you happen to want some security with your screen. Note that the viewing angles still may not translate fully to a good quality image but one that is viewable. Here is an example of a MVA panel.

Pixel Pitch
Also called line pitch, stripe pitch, phosphor pitch, or Dot pitch
This feature is key to the sharpness of the picture, and should be combined with resolution. Example: a 20" display with a native resolution of 1680 x 1050 will have pixel pitch of 0.258mm, however a larger screen at 22" with the same native resolution will have a pixel pitch of 0.282mm. Personally I would take the 20" display over the 22" because it offers a better quality image, but that's just me. Some would sacrifice image for a slightly larger screen. However, if you give me a 21.5" with 1920 x 1080, that will have a pixel pitch of 0.248mm, I'm taking it! Different strokes for different folks.. Here is a simple pixel size calculator I found on the Internet.. Gotta love Google!

This is another feature that should go along side with screen size plus aspect ratio. I like to find the highest resolution with what ever screen size you're interested in. Certain resolutions are designated to a certain screen size, such as a screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 will be a 24/24.1" with an aspect ration of 16:10. This would be a slight taller screen than a 16:9 with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. Also keep in mind if you're a gamer or will be you might want work around your video cards capability at its max resolution. If your video card works best @ 1680 x 1050, then find a screen that fits this task. LCD screens that say their native resolution is 1920 x 1080, may not display 1680 x 1050 as good as native in Windows. So if you plan on running 1680 x 1050 full time during games and or your desktop get a screen that has a native res of 1680 x 1050. In games its not that noticeable, but in Windows it sure is... It will have a fussy look to it.

Screen size
This is personal preference. Depending on what brand of monitor you like, the way it looks, the color of the bezel, etc... This may take longer than you think to pick out. Once you have all of the options in your head then you'll be able to narrow down. The most popular is a 23" display just so you know...

TN (Twisted Nematic) panels are the most widely used panel type in the manufacture of LCD monitors. TN panels are low cost and offer great response times, making them the ideal choice for fast paced gaming. The response times of current TN panels range from 2ms to 5ms GTG* (gray to gray). The viewing angles and contrast ratios of TN panels are the worst of any current LCD panel technology. However, many of you may not care about this, or may not even notice it.

The TN display is only 6-bit and is unable to display the full 16.7 million colors. It may be advertised as 16.2 Million colors and uses a dithering technique to simulate the color band. TN panels have become very popular with the average computer user because they are very inexpensive. If you paid >$200 for your LCD screen its most likely a TN panel.

* BTB is when the pixel (a single dot on the display) is switched off, on, off (BTB). However, GTG (gray to gray) is a measurement of slightly on, to slightly off, which makes no sense. If they measured BTB (black to black) those response times will be higher. These numbers are all for marketing to catch the customers eye.

PLEASE TRY NOT TO POST HERE UNTIL I'VE COMPLETED THE INFORMATION.. TY. If you are reading this, be sure to refresh as I'm updating it as much as I can.
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