What are they? IPS stands for In-Plane Switching and is a type of LCD (liquid-crystal display) screen. Most affordable monitors, laptops and smartphones now use IPS panels, because they offer a huge improvement in color quality and viewing angles over previous flat screen technologies, such as TN (Twisted Nemonic) and VA (Vertical Alignment). However, IPS screens aren’t as good at displaying contrast as OLED screens, which tend to be more expensive.
How do IPS Monitor work?
The key difference with IPS screens is how they are lit. IPS technology uses a bright light situated behind the pixels. The color of each pixel is changed to let through just the right amount of light, so your eyes see the whole picture on screen made up of thousands of pixels.
To become black, the pixels need to block this light. This is the main weakness of IPS as some light will usually leak through. This is why contrast is improved by more expensive OLED screens, where each pixel has its own light that can be switched off to display a perfect black.
What are the specs?
The key thing to look out for on an IPS screen is the refresh rate – the length of time it takes for an individual pixel to change color. Older and cheaper IPS screens might have a response rate of five milliseconds (5 ms), while newer, higher-priced models may get this down to 1ms.
If you’re using the monitor for games and home entertainment, opt for a low response rate. You won’t notice a 5ms response time when you’re using Windows, but it can cause ‘ghosting’ – leaving a ghostly image behind – in a fast-moving game or video.
Can I change it later?
If you’re using a desktop PC you can always switch your monitor, but laptops and mobile phones are stuck with the screen they come with.