For years now In-plane switching (IPS) panels have been the go-to choice for anyone who cares about image quality. There’s other options, such as Twisted Nematic (TN) and Vertical Alignment (VA), but neither of these panels can match IPS in color reproduction and off-axis viewing angles. IPS panels also offer better contrast than TN panels. Despite its superiority, IPS isn’t perfect, and can give off a bit of “glow” when viewed from the side. They also offer less contrast than VA panels. Plus, OLED monitors are finally coming to the PC world and nothing can compete with their “perfect” blacks. There is a new type of panel technology though, and it’s called IPS Black. It’s made by LG Display but is appearing in two new monitors from Dell. It attempts to bolster IPS’s strengths, and fend off competition from OLED and mini-LED.
As its name implies, the main advantage of IPS black is darker blacks, which leads to improved contrast. Almost every IPS panel on the market has a contrast ratio of 1000:1, but IPS Black doubles it to 2,000:1. Dell claims this allows for 35 percent darker blacks. The company is offering two 4K monitors with this technology; the 27″ U2723QE at $780 and the 31.5″ U3223QE at $1,150. Both monitors have similar specs. Because these are productivity-focused monitors they are limited to 60Hz refresh rates. Despite their improved contrast they only boast an HDR400 rating, which is not uncommon for an IPS panel. Their 400 nits of brightness is also pedestrian. They do however cover 98% of the DCI-P3 RGB color space, which is better than most IPS panels.
LG actually announced this technology last year, but has yet to come to market with its first monitors. Interestingly, LG’s version features a Nano IPS panel, unlike Dell’s more traditional monitor. LG’s Nano IPS technology uses a layer on nano particles on the LED backlight that allow it to absorb more light. This helps it produce a wider range of colors. It’s notable that both Nano IPS and IPS Black monitors are capable of the same 98 percent DCI-P3 coverage.
Overall this new technology sounds pretty interesting. LED panels are still much cheaper to produce than OLED, although these Dell monitors aren’t exactly cheap. However, if you’ve been eyeballing that new Alienware OLED gaming monitor, they’re not quite as expensive. They’re also in different markets, as the Dell monitor is all about the remote worker as it’s a USB-C hub essentially. This lets you daisy chain two monitors together as external displays for your laptop. Still, we’re hopeful this technology will come to gaming monitors. Since Dell owns Alienware, maybe the two of them can share some panels.