TFT LCD vs IPS LCD: What is the Difference?

TFT LCD vs IPS LCD: What is the Difference

Some of the most popular gadget-related queries on the internet are based on TFT LCD vs IPS LCD and other related phrases. Some tech reviewers have also highlighted the difference between the two in their articles or videos. What exactly is the difference between the two?

A Look Into the TFT LCD vs IPS LCD Discussion

Comparison and Difference

For starters, the inquiry does not make sense from a technical perspective. It is important to stress the fact that it is impossible to compare a TFT LCD against an IPS LCD.

A thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal display is a specific variant of LCD technology that is based primarily on thin-film transistor or TFT technology. A TFT is a particular type of field-effect transistor or FET characterized by a thin transistor relative to the plane of the device. Note that a FET controls the flow of current in a semiconductor.

The defining characteristic of TFT LCDs is that they are also considered active matrix LCDs in which individual pixels are attached to individual transistors to allow individual switching and active addressing of the pixel state from an on or off state.

On the other hand, an IPS LCD or an in-plane switching liquid-crystal display is actually a type of a TFT LCD. It is a more specific LCD technology that involves placing a layer of liquid crystals between two glass surfaces and aligning the specific liquid crystal molecules parallel to these two surfaces in-plane or in predetermined directions.

An in-plane switching LCD fundamentally uses a thin-film transistor to allow the individual switching and active addressing of the individual pixels. It is interesting to note that the first IPS LCD introduced in 1996 was called Super TFT LCD.

More Suitable Comparison

Nevertheless, the better alternative to the TFT LCD vs IPS LCD inquiry and discussion is to compare each against better and more relevant display technologies.

The direct counterpart of a TFT LCD is passive matrix LCD technology. A passive matrix display controls and addresses segments of pixels rather than individual pixels. It is also referred to as direct-driven display technology.

It is also important to note that thin-film transistors are also used in other display technologies such as OLED displays or AMOLED displays. OLEDs are one of the primary display technologies used in mid-range to flagship-grade consumer electronic devices. They are based on organic light-emitting diodes while LCDs are based on liquid crystals.

OLEDs are also compared to IPS LCDs. In-plane switching LCDs are also used in several mid-range to flagship-grade devices. The Liquid Retina brand of displays used by Apple is based on in-plane switching LCD technology.

The closest rivals of IPS LCDs are other TFT LCD technologies such as twisted nematic or TN LCDs and vertical alignment LCDs. In-plane switching is the superior technology among the three. However, newer technologies have emerged. These include plane-to-line switching or PLS LCD and advanced hyper-viewing angle or AHVA.

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