In-Plane Switching (IPS) Technology was developed by Hitachi in 1996 to solve the limitations of the Twisted Nematic (TN) Thin Film Transistor (TFT) panels for Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs), which were created in the late 1980s.
LG developed its own version of IPS and introduced it to the market in 2007. The company is now the largest manufacturer of LCDs with IPS technology.
IPS is a type of TFT LCD or “active matrix” LCD. It re-arranges the liquid crystal molecules between the glass substrates so they are parallel rather than perpendicular with the glass plates (it changes the pixels from being horizontal to vertical to produce better looking images and video).
The result is crystal clear picture quality that delivers a comfortable user experience at every angle. You get better color fidelity. Better off-axis image quality. And better video quality.
What is IPS Technology?
- What is IPS Technology?
Limitations of the TN Breakthrough
LCDs have two polarized panels with a liquid crystal solution between them. Backlighting projects light through the layer of colorized liquid crystals to make an image visible.
But the quality of the images from this passive matrix LCD is poor. TFT was developed as an active matrix variant of LCD that improves images by enhancing color, contrast, black levels and the responsiveness of pixels. The two most common types of TFT LCDs are-IPS and TN panels.
TN technology turns the pixels horizontally when energized. But, since the pixels are horizontal. Unless the display is directly in front of you, the image will not be unclear. TN TFT LCDs were the only cost-effective technology for active matrix TFT LCDs in the late 1980s; which lasted throughout the 90s.
Not only does off-axis viewing produce unclear images. But the TN panel is notorious for low-quality color reproduction, and even inverting colors when the display is at extreme angles. One of a number of new technologies developed to address these issues in the mid-90s was-IPS.
Hitachi’s Improvements to IPS Technology
IPS technology corrects the flaws of TN technology by altering pixels to be parallel instead of perpendicular to the liquid crystal panel. This provides wider viewing angles. And higher quality color reproduction.
Hitachi then improved on IPS technology by working out how to interconnect the TFT array as a matrix to eliminate the inverted gray-scales and stray fields in between pixels.
The company took improvements one step further to optimize the shape of the electrodes. This increased viewing angles, and enhanced pixel refreshing times.
IPS panels with these improvements are referred to as Super IPS; which is what we’re used to today. The pixels for S-IPS are in the shape of a chevron, which work to widen the viewing angles.
What’s Meant By ‘Wider Viewing Angles’?
“Viewing Angle” is a display technology term describing the maximum angle at which a user can still see a display with acceptable visual performance. This angular range is the viewing cone, which is defined by a set of viewing positions.
When you sit in front of a laptop. You see every point of the display from a different direction. The Viewing Cone is the multitude of directions from which you can see the display without distortion.
OLED panorama displays are concave screens that attempt to enhance viewing angles by limiting factors that diminish the quality of the picture. The curved design of the display attempts to provide a wider “cone” of positions.
When shopping for a laptop, you might see expressions like, “Viewing Angle 178/178” or “178 degree Viewing Angles”. This simply means that if you look at the laptop display from a 178-degree angle on either side. The picture will still be crystal clear, without any degradation.
What’s the Difference Between ‘Pixel Response Time’, and Refresh Rates?
This won’t matter to you unless you’re watching movies or playing games.
Pixel Response Time refers to how fast a colored pixel on a liquid crystal display can go from active. To inactive. And back again. You will see this number referenced in milliseconds (ms). A lower response time means less ghosting of the image, which translates to better picture quality.
This is not to be confused with Refresh Rates, which tell you in how many Frames Per Second (FPS) the display can refresh an image. Another way to put it is-the number of times per second the display’s hardware can render the data that produces the image.
This number is measured in Hertz (Hz). A higher refresh rate means less screen flicker and ultimately less eyes strain. For gaming and watching videos. You want low Pixel Response Times, and high Refresh Rates. If you won’t be doing either. A 60 Hz display will be just fine.
Here’s a video from Tech Quickie to explain more about Monitor Response Times.
Clear Color Expression
If you work involves graphic design, print, photography or video. IPS technology is especially important to you. No display or monitor will be absolutely perfect without color calibration, of course.
But the most important attributes for this line of work seem to be color accuracy, the color gamut and contrast of colors, which is where IPS excels.
IPS panels delivers better color accuracy than other panels because of its more linear response. It has a higher bit depth of 8- to 10-bit panel. And it has better contrast and consistency across the range of viewing angles because of its construction.
Because displays and monitors that support IPS panels are better constructed than the cheaper TN panels. They can work with a wider array of colors; or gamut of colors.
Finally, contrast tends to be a function of panel technology. For which IPS displays are well suited.
Since IPS panels are used in professional displays and monitors geared toward graphics professionals. Laptops that support IPS also come with features like calibration presets and adjustments.
Advantages of IPS
- IPS panels can display consistently accurate color from all viewing angles because they are able to manage the light passing through the panels.
- Touchscreen devices benefit from IPS technology because the panels don’t lighten or show tailing when you press your finger on the display.
- IPS displays offer clearer images and a more stable response time than other screens.
Disadvantages of IPS
- IPS displays requires up to 15% more power to push than cheaper panel types.
- These displays can suffer from what’s known as ‘IPS Glow”. This is where the backlight of the IPS panel shines through when the display is viewed from a certain angle.
- Although IPS screens offer a more stable response time than less expensive panels. It takes a longer time to achieve.
Since Hitachi’s pioneering work on IPS technology, there have been many innovations in the world of displays and monitors. And they’re all designed to improve your viewing experience.
But they’re all derivatives of IPS technology. And at least for now, IPS technology will give you the most for the money you’ll spend.
Is there anything you feel we failed to add or mention about IPS technology? Please let us know in the comment section. We want to hear from you.