Display panel technology: TN, IPS, and MVA/PVA explained

TN, IPS and MVA are all thin film transistor (TFT) panel types currently available the South African market. However, while they all perform the same basic function, each has its own pros and cons. Below are the different panel types’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as recommended application.

TN panels

Commonly found in PC monitors, the TN panel is a popular choice among manufacturers who aim products at the 15” – 27” market. They exhibit poor viewing angle, great response times and decent colour reproduction. They are popular among gamers due to their relatively cheap price tag and great response times. It is also popular with the general consumer who doesn’t see a point in paying far more for the same size screen.

IPS panels

IPS panels are used in higher-end PC monitors, and in some televisions from manufacturers such as Panasonic, Toshiba and Hitatchi. IPS panels command a higher price tag; in some cases four times more than a monitor with a TN panel of the same size.

They exhibit excellent colour reproduction,  great viewing angles, average black colour depth and average response times. They are often used in colour critical applications, such as image post processing, which also benefit from the higher resolution IPS often employs.

They are unpopular among gamers due to a common misconception that the response time of IPS panels leads to “ghosting” or deteriorated image quality. While this may be possible in some cases where extremely high frames per second are required, many argue that in most games these effects are unnoticeable.

MVA/PVA panels

VA panels are often used in televisions, and have been described as a compromise between TN and IPS panels. Used in Samsung and Sony televisions, these panels exhibit a mix of good viewing angle, good colour reproduction, good response time, and excellent black colour depth along with very good contrast. As a compromise, these panels work well for televisions, and increasingly, PC users in South Africa.

With PC’s holding more of a multimedia presence now than in the past, MVA/PVA panels have a large appeal to the South African market for their specifications as well as their price. For users who aim for a 32”+ screen, they are often the only choice.

So which is best?

This comes down to your application, though the only real specialist panel type is IPS, hence it’s large price tag. For general users, there is little difference between TN and MVA/PVA panels unless you’re in a specialised field (such as league gaming, or part of a home theatre enthusiast club).

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Display panel technology: TN, IPS, and MVA/PVA explained