IPS vs FHD (Improve Your Viewing Experience)

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Anything less than a Full HD display is a relic of a bygone era. And IPS is responsible for so much scintillating beauty. That’s the word on the street, isn’t it? When you’re buying a new laptop, knowing the technology behind the display can have a huge impact on usability since working on a laptop is mostly a viewing experience. As you study spec sheets, terms like IPS and FHD can be a little confusing. In what follows, we’re going to look at IPS vs FHD technology to see what roles they play in enhancing your overall computing experience. But first…

What is an IPS Display?

An IPS display is an LCD display that features an IPS panel type.  Doesn’t explain a whole lot, does it? Well, let’s break it down then.

The LCD panel technology family consists of 4 main panel types: IPS, TN, VA, and OLED.  Each of these display panel types has its own distinctive set of pros and cons. They ultimately determine what the display can do and what use it’s best suited for.

The panel technology used in a display affects various aspects of screen performance including:

Since different panel technologies offer unique performance profiles, the best type of LCD display is subjective and according to personal preference.

Another reason for the varying opinions is because none of these display panel types will give “excellent” performance in all the screen aspects mentioned above.  That being said, let’s talk in more detail about IPS display panel technology.

An IPS or “In-Plane Switching” display utilizes liquid crystals positioned in a parallel configuration to produce rich colors.  Consequently, an IPS panel is defined by the shifting patterns of its liquid crystals.

IPS displays were designed to overcome the restrictions of TN (Twisted Nematic) panels when it comes to color performance.  This can be attributed to the ability of liquid crystals to shift horizontally, which creates improved viewing angles.

IPS Display Characteristics

Nowadays, IPS displays are generally the panel technology of choice for users who prioritize color accuracy and consistency, like video editors.  Such displays are truly exceptional if you’re looking for super-wide viewing angles with equally reliable color performance.

The wide 178-degree vertical and horizontal viewing angles offered by IPS displays help them deliver uniform color when viewed from different angles, such as the sides or the bottom.

Actually, the fact that colors on an IPS display won’t shift as dramatically as they do on a TN display when you look at the screen at an angle is a huge differentiator between both panel technologies.

As for color accuracy, IPS displays also deliver superior performance compared to TN and VA (Vertical Alignment) displays.  Even with the latest-gen VA panel technologies offering close performance specs, many pros still consider IPS displays to be the reigning technology in this aspect.

IPS displays can also deliver more displayable colors which helps enhance color accuracy.  This brings us to another significant characteristic of IPS displays; they can support advanced color space technologies such as Adobe RGB.

Variations of IPS displays include:

  • S-IPS
  • H-IPS
  • e-IPS
  • P-IPS
  • PLS (Plane-to-Line)

The variations are actually pretty similar, which is why they’re generally referred to as IPS type panels.  They all offer the same major advantages that you can expect from IPS displays in terms of outstanding color and ultra-wide viewing angles.

What Does ‘Wider Viewing Angles’ Means?

It’s 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.

Wide Viewing Angles

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

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 provides 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.

IPS Effects on Design Work

If your work involves graphic design, print, photography or video.  A laptop with an IPS display will give you:

  • a higher bit depth of 8- to 10-bit panel
  • better construction compared to cheaper TN panels, which means
  • more control over color accuracy due to it more linear response,
  • and a wider color gamut and contrast of colors and consistency across the range of viewing angles.

Of course, for with this type of work, no display will be absolutely perfect without color calibration.  And, since IPS panels are used in professional displays geared toward graphics professionals.  Laptops that support IPS technology also come with features like calibration presets and adjustments.

What is an FHD Display?

An FHD (Full High Definition) display, also known as Full HD or 1080p, is a highly common display resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels.  But what does this mean exactly?

To better explain what an FHD display is, let’s take a step back and talk about screen resolution.  The image on a screen (whether it’s for a laptop, a computer, or even a TV) is built up from thousands or millions of small square elements called pixels.

To create the image that you see on the display, the screen has to change the colors of these tiny pixels.  The term “resolution” refers to the number of pixels a screen can display horizontally and vertically, written in a width × height format.

So, if we take the FHD display as an example, we say it offers a display resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels.  This means that the screen can show 1920 pixels horizontally and 1080 pixels vertically.  As a rule of thumb, the more the pixels a laptop display has, the sharper the image will look.

A lot of today’s laptop screens, PC monitors, and TVs come in Full HD resolution.  And 1080p is the lowest resolution considered acceptable for gaming or a modern computing experience.

Gaming Resolution Standard Explored

While it’s true that gaming at higher resolutions of 1440p or 4K does offer a more realistic experience, they both demand a rather powerful graphics card.  Not an incredible amount of power from your laptop.  This isn’t always ideal, which is why gaming at 1080p is still very popular among gamers.

Another thing we should emphasize is that FHD isn’t related to a specific screen size either.   In fact, displays of different sizes can still have the same screen resolution; it’s important not to mix up the two concepts.

Additionally, don’t be tricked when you hear the term HD or “High Definition” without the “F” or the word “Full” ahead of it.  A plain HD resolution has less pixels than FHD at 1280 × 720 pixels or – more commonly – 1366 × 768 pixels, so it’s less sharp.

Neither HD nor FHD are considered particularly special or sharp by today’s standards where 1440p and 4K resolutions are becoming increasingly popular.  They’re deemed high definition because they were a step up from old-school Standard Definition (SD) 640 × 480 pixels resolution.

The Difference Between an IPS Display and an FHD Display

Taking in all this information together, we can conclude that an IPS display and an FHD display are two entirely different features of a laptop screen that are not under the exact same category of specifications.

On one hand, IPS is a panel technology that offers outstanding color consistency and accuracy, ultra-wide viewing angles, adequate response time for most users, and little to no color shift compared to other panel types.

On the other hand, FHD explains the resolution at which a laptop screen display’s images, valued at 1920 × 1080 pixels.

Considering both definitions, it’s then clear that you can use the terms IPS and FHD to describe the same display on a laptop.  Such a screen will be equipped with IPS panel technology while simultaneously featuring a resolution rated FHD.

Bottom line is, you can’t compare IPS and FHD because they’re essentially two different attributes of a display.  This means they can co-exist or not, depending on the specs you need from your laptop’s display.

In Summary

Alone, they won’t catapult your laptop to astronomical levels of performance. But these display technologies are often over-looked components of your overall computing experience. Which is understandable – especially when there are so many other attention-grabbing specs to consider. As you can see, however, after reviewing the differences between IPS and FHD technologies, they’re not really comparable after all. IPS displays are excellent when you long for wide viewing angles. While Full HD is the resolution standard you want for a sharp image and good color reproduction. But in a sea of amazing laptops, a machine with a great display will stand out like a Lamborghini in a parking lot of commuter cars.