When we choose the monitor, we consider many factors – size, resolution, color depth, and other characteristics. But there is one more feature that we also need to consider – the panel. There are two popular panel types – IPS and PLS. How do they differ? Which one is better? Below, we will try to find it out.
How does the IPS panel work?
IPS (In-Plane Switching) panels are a type of LCD panel that offers superior viewing angles and color reproduction compared to other panel types. Because of the way IPS panels are constructed, light passing through them is distributed more evenly than on other types of LCD panels, which means that images look consistent no matter what angle you’re looking at them from. This is especially important for multi-monitor setups or for people who like to watch TV while lying in bed.
IPS panels also offer better color reproduction than other panel types. This is because they use white LEDs backlighting instead of cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFLs), which can produce a bluish tint. Some people find this undesirable, but others prefer the more natural look that it gives to images.
Advantages of IPS panels:
- Consistent image quality at all viewing angles
- Better color reproduction than other panel types
Disadvantages of IPS panels:
- Often more expensive than other panel types
- Slightly slower response time
How does the PLS panel work?
PLS (Plane-Line Switching) panels are a type of LCD panel that is very similar to IPS panels in terms of performance. The main difference between the two is that PLS panels use a different pixel arrangement, which allows for slightly higher pixel densities. This results in a slightly sharper image.
PLS panels also offer good viewing angles and color reproduction, making them a good choice for people who want high-quality visuals from their monitor.
Advantages of PLC panels:
- Similar functionality to IPS panels at a lower price
Disadvantages of PLS panels:
- Slightly slower response time than IPS panels
- Lower resolution support than IPS panels
The first thing we should know about the panels is their manufacturers (in many cases, it says a lot about the product's quality). So, PLS panels are produced only by Samsung, the world's leading maker of televisions, mobile phones, and other electronic gadgets. As for the IPS panels, a large range of companies are dedicated to manufacturing them (such as LG, Innolux, and AUO).
Another big difference between the two panels is their resolutions (some would say that this is where many people get confused). Most affordable models have only 1366x768 pixels while higher-end ones may feature Full HD or 4K resolution which creates a sharper image. Higher resolution means a higher price, but the image looks much better.
Sharpness and viewing angles
As we already mentioned, PLS panels offer a sharper picture than IPS ones because they have a different pixel arrangement. The pixels of PLS panels are closer to each other than those on IPS screens, which means that you can fit more of them into the same area. Moreover, LG claims that their PLS screen offers 178-degree viewing angles as well as 99% coverage of the sRGB color gamut (which is considered standard for most monitors).
It should be noted, however, that this performance is strongly influenced by the manufacturer's implementation. One can still find products with poor viewing angles and color accuracy on sale (even from reputable brands like Samsung and Dell), so it is important to do your research.
The second thing we should consider about the panel is its characteristics and performance. Let's start with PLS panels. Compared to IPS, they provide 10 percent more brightness, greater angles of viewing, higher contrast, and better quality of the picture. Besides, the PLS panel beats IPS with less energy use (around 15 percent) and the ability to have responsive panels.
As for IPS, it is often much slower when testing the response time (how fast each pixel can "switch" between black and white). Furthermore, its viewing angles are not as good as those of PLS.
If you think that the IPS panel cannot beat PLS, you are wrong. The high-cost IPS panels offer better picture quality than budget-friendly PLS. And vice versa – the expensive PLS provides a more excellent image than low-cost IPS.
For those who work with graphics and colors, the IPS panel can serve as a good choice. It comes with a high contrast ratio, plus it offers uniform and exact colors for any picture. The other great benefit of the IPS panel is its viewing angle of 178 degrees. Thanks to it, you can enjoy the same quantity of colors, even when you look at it from aside.
Now let's speak about variations. PLS does not have many variations. As for IPS, it has several types. In fact, all of them do not have many differences between other. They can differ by some characteristics, like the quality of color, brightness, or performance. When it comes to defining which IPS variation is better, there is no concrete answer. Here, there is only one thing that matters – the quality of a specific panel. The manufacturer does not play any role at all.
The first variation of IPS is S-IPS. It has great viewing angles, but it does not have good color reproduction. And the next one is H-IPS (or AH-IPS), which has a high response time and high power consumption. As for e-IPS, there are a few differences between this type of panel and H-IPS. The main difference is that e-IPS was developed to work on devices with low energy consumption, so manufacturers use them in laptops or notebooks.
As for AS-IPS, it has an average response time very similar to H-IPS. It provides more accurate colors than its predecessor, without increasing its price significantly.
Let's move further by looking at two types of PLS panels – N- and H-PLS. The first one, N-PLS, is a low-cost panel that provides good viewing angles and color reproduction. It also has a fast response time, making it great for gaming monitors. The second type, H-PLS, offers the best viewing angles and color quality but comes with a high price tag.
If you like to play games, there is one more factor that you need to consider – the response time. It indicates a time during which the pixels transition from one grey shade to the other one. So, as for the response time, it is almost the same for both PLS and IPS. It is about 5 milliseconds.
Response time is important because the lower it is, the less lag you'll experience between what you see on-screen and what's happening in the game. However, a low response time isn't always the best thing – it can often lead to motion blur and ghosting.
Let's look at the energy economy. Typically, IPS panels are more power-consuming than PLS ones. However, there are some exceptions to this rule (for example, Lenovo ThinkPad T430u ultrabook that has an IPS panel). The difference is about 20 percent.
The fact is that the modern IPS panels consume less energy than they did once upon a time. For example, back in 2010/2011, this number was around 40W while now it reaches only 25W to 30W.
Even though IPS panels consume less power nowadays, manufacturers still offer low-energy PLS models due to their ability to reduce the price of the product significantly. That's why there are laptops with PLS screens available for under $200.
One more thing we need to cover in this comparison is input lag. It refers to the time after a monitor receives a signal from a computer and before it updates. This delay results in blur-free images, which decreases your responsiveness during games. The problem with IPS panels is that their input lag has been measured at around 10-25 ms (which is quite high), while PLS displays usually provide much faster responsiveness. In other words, you will have a competitive advantage if you PLS panel instead of an IPS one.
The last thing that we should consider when choosing the best panel type is its price. PLS, and IPS panels are sold at a similar price (around $300 per piece). So, if you do not care about the additional features of one of them, go with the most economic choice. And still – it does not affect the picture quality of your monitor in any way!
Is it bad for your eyes?
Some people think that IPS or PLS panels are bad for your eyes because they emit blue light. However, this is not true. The blue light that is emitted from these monitors is actually very low, and it will not cause any damage to your eyesight.
Which one is better for work?
If you are looking for a panel type that is good for work, IPS panels are the best choice. They come with great viewing angles and accurate colors, which is perfect for any type of design work.
PLS panels are not as good for work as IPS panels are, because they do not offer the same level of accuracy and viewing angles. However, if you are looking for a panel that is good for gaming or watching movies, PLS panels are a better choice than IPS.
Which one is better for gaming?
Gaming monitors are marketed as models that have very fast response time and high refresh rates. For this reason, most people think that PLS panels are better than IPS panels when it comes to playing video games.
However, only the response time of 5 milliseconds is more or less the same for both panel types. And while some people prefer a fast refresh rate and low input lag so that they could play any game perfectly on their monitor, there are also gamers who do not care about these features at all.
Therefore, if you like watching movies and playing simple games with your family more than spending hours in front of your computer to play advanced games with friends on a competitive level, go with an IPS panel because it is great for watching movies and playing casual games. If you are a hardcore gamer, then you should definitely get a monitor with a PLS panel.
Which one is more durable?
In general, IPS panels are more durable than PLS panels. This is because their structures are very similar. Both of these panel types have a thin film transistor placed over the glass, which makes them more fragile.
Tips on how to choose a good monitor:
- Go for a monitor that has an IPS or PLS panel.
- Make sure the response time is low.
- Check the price tag.
- Consider your needs and preferences.
- Do not forget to check the viewing angles!
- Choose a monitor according to your budget.
When it comes to choosing the best monitor, there are many factors you need to consider. But if you want the best picture quality possible, then you should go for a monitor with an IPS or PLS panel. Both of these panel types offer great viewing angles and accurate colors, so you can be sure that whatever you're looking at will look good.
Honestly, when looking for a new screen, the panel type does not play a significant role. Here, you should make a choice by your eye. It means that before buying, you should look at the monitor and decide whether its brightness, color scheme, picture quality, and other characteristics are suitable for you.
Only after that, you should look at the manufacturer, price, and other features. And also, when making a choice, think about the purpose for which you will use your new monitor.