Computer monitor technology has long had a champion, and it’s called In-Plane Switching, or IPS. This display panel technology has often been praised because it is capable of fixing many issues found in cheaper TN panel monitors.
Yet IPS also comes at a price, and as the technology has filtered down to less expensive monitors, some disadvantages have been exaggerated. The decision to buy an IPS monitor for your next display is no longer as clear.
A common problem among LCD displays of every type, ghosting or blurring is essentially what it sounds like. It’s an image defect that causes objects moving on-screen to leave a unwanted trail behind. Both terms refer to the same problem.
Ghosting is a possible issue on almost all modern monitors and HDTVs, but it’s particularly prevalent on IPS panels. High-end displays usually do a good job of taming the problem through the use of high-quality panels and through the use of firmware features that compensate for blur.
In cheaper monitors these features may not be available, or are of much lower quality. Reviews mention this frequently, but you can see it yourself by visiting your local electronics retailer. Your sensitivity to this effect may vary, so it’s a good idea to check it out for yourself.
Not every cheap IPS monitor suffers from this effect equally. For example, the LG Flatron IPS226V has received some praise for its particularly good response times and lack of ghosting. It’s currently an exception, however – many other options, including other LG monitors, have been cited as having moderate to major ghosting issues.
Image Quality Isn’t Guaranteed
To most geeks, IPS panel means awesome. End of story. That’s not really the case though.
There is no disputing that a display using IPS will have some advantages over TN. A wider color gamut is usually available, and display angles are almost always significantly better. However, these two benefits are all you can count on. Everything else is up in the air. Backlight quality depends on the types of lighting elements used and their location. Colors are impacted by the display’s finish, the backlight, and other factors.
The details are where cheap IPS displays from companies like LG and ASUS tend to fall short. Take the LG Flatron D2342P as an example. Though equipped with an IPS panel, it falls short of the best TN monitors in image quality. LG made a big deal of its new IPS monitors at CES 2011, and I’m sure the first round of geeks who bought them thought they were getting an awesome deal – but it turns out it actually is possible to make IPS look inferior to TN.
Lack Of Features
When you stuff an expensive panel into a display that is supposed to sell for between $200 and $300, something has to give. And usually that something is connectivity, build quality, or both.
Take the ASUS ML239H as an example. For about $189.99 you can have IPS, but you can’t have DVI (you’ll need to use an adapter). You also only receive swivel and tilt adjustments, there’s no VESA mount support, and there are no built-in speakers.
There’s also a lot of backlight bleed. Remember what I was saying about quality?
To be fair, you don’t usually find height adjustment on cheap TN monitors, either. It is common to find at least three video inputs for that price, however. Speakers are also common. By going cheap in your quest for IPS, you’re sacrificing features that you may need more than you think.
When the latest wave of inexpensive monitors boasting IPS became available in 2011, I was hopeful that we were beginning to see a new revolution in inexpensive monitors. Instead, buyers received what they paid for – cheap displays. Sure, viewing angles were better, but that was the only consistent benefit. These inexpensive displays were often lacking in other areas.
If you want to buy IPS, you should do it right the first time. Remember, monitors tend to be a durable purchase. Usually they’ll last at least five years, and some kick around for ten or more. In addition, they are not quickly made obsolete. Save your pennies and buy a high-quality, expensive monitor instead of a budget model. You’ll thank yourself over the coming years.