Before the LCD displays arrived, the choice of a monitor has been fairly easy. With CRTs you had screen size, refresh rates and price and you could be fairly sure that you didn’t have to worry about anything more. With LCDs, it is a different matter and this guide aims at helping you understand what the marketing gibberish means and what you really need to look for.The choice of panel technology
The panel technology is very important because they have different advantages. Depending on what you want to use your LCD for, you have to choose the panel technology. For general word editing, there are no big differences but for movies, gaming and graphic work there are big differences. It should be very easy to see if you can compare the different panel types at a shop (I recommend an Apple store if you want to see an IPS).
IPS: S-IPS, H-IPS etc. are improved versions of the basic IPS technology, but it boils down to just marketing speak because they can be seen as different generations of IPS technology (one replaces the other). This technology is optimized for graphic work like image editing, website design etc. and it is excellent for those tasks as well. But it doesn’t do as good in movies as the VA technology because of the weaker black values. NEC did manage to do a very fast IPS 20” Widescreen that is excellent for gaming but generally these displays are the slowest of the 3.
VA: PVA and MVA are basically they same and often you see other letters added but that again is marketing speak. This is the technology for good all-round displays that excel at movies.
TN: Also called TN + film, but there are no TN panels without film left. The only application where they are better than VA or IPS displays is gaming, because the fastest displays are from this category. The biggest drawback are the bad viewing angles, which means that colors change fast depending on the angle you look at them. Additionally, they have a limited color range which makes them useless for graphic work. If you go for the TN tech because price is a constraint and not for gaming think about saving up for a cheap VA LCD first.
Unfortunately, today manufacturers try to hide the panel technology, mostly because they are using cheap TN panels. To find out which panel technology a monitor has you can check the databases at digitalversus.com and prad.de, linked below.