What is an IPS Screen?

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Today: IPS Panels

IPS (In Plane Switching) is a technology developed by Hitachi in 1996 intended to remedy limited viewing angles and poor colour reproduction of TN (Twisted Nematic) LCD screens. This technology has been slow to get a foothold due to significantly higher production costs than standard TN displays.

In a traditional TN LCD panel, each crystal molecule is aligned perpendicular to the surface of the screen and anchored at one end to a glass substrate inside the screen. On this glass substrate is a transistor that sends a signal through the crystal causing it to untwist incrementally. This means that the more it untwists, the farther away from the glass substrate is travels. The now stretched out crystal molecules block light from their neighbors at wide viewing angles causing a loss in contrast and brightness.

IPS solves this problem by aligning the crystals parallel to the surface of the screen. In this setup, the signal is applied between the ends of the crystal, removing the need to anchor them. The free-floating crystal is now able to be more accurately positioned. This flattened alignment of the crystals means a drastic improvement in the viewing angle of the screen.

Because signal is applied to both ends of the crystal molecule, each pixel in the screen now requires two transistors as opposed to the single transistor in the TN display. This not only increases power consumption but it also means that more of the transparent area of the screen is going to be blocked. More blocked surface area means a more powerful backlight will be required to reach equal brightness to a standard TN screen.

Since their inception in 1996, IPS screens have been plagued by slow response time, meaning moving images would blur and streak. Moving into the current era, basic IPS screens have been superseded by S-IPS (Super-IPS), AS-IPS, and Pro-IPS. These advancements not only address problems with response time, but also improve the screens contrast ratio and the glass substrates transmittance allowing for more efficient backlights.

Until recently, this technology was only found in high-end monitors used mostly in the professional sector. Now these IPS screens are being implemented into laptops, net-books, and tablets like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer TF101 and the Apple iPad2

** All Photos from Hitachi.co.jp

K.Russell – Progizmo

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