Fluvio Labenti

( flowing stream )

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Excellent colors on current IPS LCD monitors!


(Kicking off my English language posts with this one.)

My friends know I'm a home theater and audio enthusiast. You might also say an Audio/Video-quality freak :p If you have an LCD screen, I encourage you to calibrate it as best as you can using Lagom LCD monitor test images.

I've been using that same link for many years to calibrate my computer screens. That is not a pro (colorimeter based) calibration, but it can massively improve the image quality you are getting from your LCD display.

LCD screens used to suffer greatly from poor contrast ratios, poor color accuracy, and terrible viewing angles. Modern "fast" LCD panels (those with 2 ms or less response times, desirable for gaming applications) still suffer from this, because they are mostly still based on this so called TN (Twisted Nematic) technology. But there are newer LCD technologies at play, VA and IPS/PLS among them, which keeping aside response time, offer much better image quality in terms of contrast ratio, color accuracy, and viewing angles (as in image above.)

Recently I got a new relatively cheap Samsung PLS monitor. (PLS is Samsung's jargon for its own enhanced IPS implementation.) In spite of its relatively low price, it is clearly waaaaay ahead of a Samsung I purchased only about 4-5 years ago while still in Venezuela (pre-Dakazo times and back then not yet planning to emigrate.) After calibration, I watched carefully several testing scenes of my own choosing from Hero, Lord of the Rings, Matrix, Tangled, and Frozen. (Have not yet brought my dvds or blurays, but I have basically almost-free unlimited access to the huge video library in Bonn's Stadtbibliothek.) Skin tones, color saturation, and color accuracy overall remind me of my older Panasonic plasma which I used to calibrate with an AVIA calibration DVD, and was simply astounding. Only the blacks are not as good, but colors overall on the IPS panel are amazing, gorgeous! IPS/PLS panels are really very very good color accuracy-wise, particularly once calibrated.

For the record, IPS panels from LG and other brands I think are just as good and similarly priced. Chose the Samsung mostly out of familiarity and reliability experience with the brand, and curious about comparison with my older monitor. Also viewing angles to me seemed a bit better on the Samsung (more on this further down.)

OLEDs are not LCDs, they are based on a different technology, and they have the clear edge (even over plasma) with respect to blacks and contrast, arguably the most important factors in ultimate image quality --even more important than perfect color or ultra-high resolution. OLED is the most promising image display technology right now, but still too expensive, and they seem to be not as good color-accuracy-wise: the blue diodes seem to last less than the other diodes, which creates color issues over time. OLED panels also suffer from image burn, which is why there are still no OLED-based computer monitors in general, neither entry-level nor premium/pro-oriented.

My selection was narrowed down to sizes between 22" and 24", find that size-range optimal for typical viewing distances of 50-70 cm. Also full HD (1920x1080) resolution, 16:9 aspect ratio, and non-gaming monitors; didn't care about less than 1 or 2 ms response times, cared mostly about image quality, color and contrast-wise, and comfort/non-flickering (non PWM) feature. Did not want to purchase online because of fragility of monitors, so only monitors I could easily see and adjust in person on brick-stores. Had to have HDMI input(s), and at least audio output, but did not care about speakers on the monitor. My final selection was down to LG (22 or 24)MP57VQ-P, and Samsung S(22 or 24)E390H. After side-by-side comparison on stores, all playing the same video signal from HDMI inputs, without even touching them it seemed to me the Samsung 22" had slightly better viewing angles than the LGs, and surprisingly, even slightly better than the Samsung 24". Keep in mind that viewing angles is something you can't adjust playing with settings; it's something fixed given the panel's technology and construction. Settings-wise and color/contrast-wise they all seemed rather comparable overall. The LGs are VESA mount compatible, the Samsungs aren't, but even so I felt slightly inclined for the image quality on the Samsungs, in particular the 22" over the 24".

PS. Update 25.03.2016: Recently discovered a very good Computer Monitor rankings list compiled by Chip.de. Not surprisingly, at this time pretty much all their top monitors are IPS panels.

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