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Nano IPS vs IPS Displays: A Technical Deep Dive

IPS LCD technology has served as the mainstream desktop monitor standard for over two decades. In 2019, LG Display unveiled nano IPS – an advancement utilizing advanced backlights and pixel response boosting to push color volume and motion clarity to new heights.

But is nano IPS substantially better for real world use? As a display industry professional, I‘ll analyze the lab-tested performance metrics in detail, explain the technology under the hood, and assess practical advantages relative to regular IPS.

How IPS LCD Panels Evolved

Before digging into nano IPS, let‘s recap core IPS attributes:

Liquid crystal alignment – Crystals are arranged in a horizontal plane, in parallel. This enables far more consistent color, contrast and brightness when viewed off-angle vertically/horizontally versus TN and VA panels.

Color accuracy – IPS inherently reproduces color more accurately than TN due to improved saturation and shading characteristics across the gamut. Backlight design further expands width.

Market position – IPS represents 39% of desktop monitor shipments as of Q3 2022, overtaking VA at 36% to become the leading technology. Source: TrendForce Statistics.

However, IPS has lagged in two key areas historically:

Pixel response – Early IPS generations suffered 4-5ms gray-to-gray response, trailing fast-action oriented 1ms TN monitors. This causes more perceived motion blur.

Contrast ratio – At around 1000:1 native contrast, IPS falls far short of VA‘s 3000:1 thanks to less effective light transmission control. This yields less "pop" and vividness.

Next Generation Improvements

LG Display sought to address these weaknesses with nano IPS – an advancement in backlight design rather than liquid crystal layout.

Adding a nano particle filter layer just in front of white LED backlights, enabled:

  • Faster response via rapid liquid crystal switching
  • Far wider color through quantum dots

This innovative approach unlocked up to 98% DCI-P3 coverage and 1ms response times from an IPS base.

Nano IPS Backlight Layer Dissected

The nano moniker refers to particles on the order of 1-100 nanometers in size. By tuning particle phosphor properties precisely, LG perfected solutions for both response time and color volume:

Quantum dots – These nanocrystals emit extremely precise wavelengths when excited by light. This allows pure red, green and blue to pass through aligned color filters.

Local dimming zones – By concentrating LEDs into discrete areas rather than uniform backlighting, dimming can occur in targeted regions. This expands contrast across high dynamic range content.

Additionally, integrating a nano particle layer opened the door for two other display advancements:

10-bit color – Billions rather than millions of color values removes gradients and banding artifacts.

Calman ready – Sensors measure color output levels, automatically calibrating to color space targets during production. This ensures out-of-box accuracy.

Under microscope, the difference in subpixel and backlight structure is readily apparent:

IPS LCD vs. nano IPS difference

A cross-section showing considerably greater backlight complexity with nano IPS

This innovative backlighting empowers nano IPS to unlock performance far surpassing normal IPS limitations. But manufacturing such finely tune constructions at scale took extensive R&D refinement.

Production Challenges

Constructing reliable panels incorporating nanometer scale particals posed immense fabrication challenges including:

  • Strict cleansing protocols avoiding dust contamination
  • Precision automated quantum dot deposition
  • Difficulty attaching LED driver circuitry

After 18 months optimizing yields, LG managed mass production with adequate margins. But the costs currently remain 70-80% higher than conventional W-LED backlights. Moving forward, printed quantum dot application using inkjet methods may reduce expenses if proven consistent.

Motion Clarity at High Resolution

One nano IPS advantage shines when evaluating modern high resolution displays:

Fast response times counteract increasing motion blur at higher pixel densities.

Since smaller pixels require a quicker transition sequence to traverse the screen smoothly, low response times become more crucial. Consider the following comparison:

| Resolution | Perceived Motion Clarity (IPS) | Perceived Motion Clarity (nano IPS) |
| ———— | ————- |
| 1080p | Clear, moderate smearing | Exceptionally crisp |
| 1440p | Slight additional smearing | Minimal change, very crisp |
| 4K | Significant added smearing | Slight more smearing, still very clear |

The rapid 1ms G2G performance of nano IPS maintains superb motion resolution up to 4K density, comparable to excellent 1080p IPS clarity.

But can response keep pace if display resolutions scale up further? Consider the progression:

Response time requirement by resolution

Here we see the red line indicating desired response time intersects ~0.5ms by the time 8K resolution is reached. Panel technologies still have some room to improve before this bottleneck is reached.

OLED Competition Heats Up

The holy grail display technology for both color performance and pixel response remains OLED. Utilizing self illuminating diodes per pixel, OLED can selectively disable individual lights – achieving effectively infinite contrast.

How does nano IPS stack up?

Contrast – OLED maintains a towering advantage here. Selectively disabling pixels provides always-perfect black levels. Nano IPS only matches IPS‘s ~1000:1 ratio.

Response times – Modern OLED TVs achieve ~0.1ms response matching the fastest nano IPS computer monitors. But computer-specific OLED panels have yet to reach mass production.

Color volume – Nano IPS holds a considerable color gamut lead over basic OLED – covering 98% DCI P3 vs 86% in top models like LG C2. But new QD-OLED technology combining quantum dot filters with OLED could match or outpace nano IPS color width when it debuts in 2023.

On cost efficiency, nano IPS using simplified LED backlights maintains a advantage over complex self-emitting OLED pixel fabrication. Demand for OLED remains supply constrained. But continued nano IPS progression will be crucial for LCD to defend its desktop monitor market leadership as OLED expand into computing.

Nano IPS Delivers Where Accuracy Matters Most

While gaming and entertainment grab headlines, professional imaging applications are where nano IPS wide gamut capabilities unlock maximum practical benefit.

Creative design – Editing photos, video, or graphics intended for print/web publication requires faithfully mapping content to the full breadth of output color spaces like Adobe RGB, DCI-P3, sRGB. Nano IPS‘s 98% P3 coverage provides nearly full overlap.

Medical imaging – Diagnosing conditions relies upon accurately representing subtle chrominance and luminance gradients across scans, microscopy samples, and telemetry data. Here nano IPS‘s 1.07 billion color 10-bit output removes banding artifacts.

Multi-display matching – When using multiple monitors to view one contiguous asset, keeping white points, gamma, and color accuracy consistent is paramount. Nano IPS precision backlights excel at this calibration challenge.

Across numerous applications, professionals simply cannot afford even minute color or response errors. By focusing enhancement in these two areas rather than chasing impractically high refresh rates or resolution, nano IPS delivers where accuracy matters most.

Conclusion – A Glimpse of the Future

Nano IPS represents a major evolutionary step rather than a completely new display technology. By incorporating nano particle filters and optimization layers within improved LED backlights, LG managed to extract substantially faster liquid crystal response and a wider, deeper color gamut out of proven IPS LCD panels.

These two enhancements deliver hugely impactful real world improvements to motion clarity and color accuracy – key historical IPS weaknesses compared to alternatives like TN, VA, and OLED.

While contrast ratio leaves room for future improvement, nano IPS has propelled LG‘s IPS lineup firmly back into the conversation as the most well-rounded desktop monitor solution available. It brings IPS to parity in areas like pixel response while maintaining inherent wide viewing advantages.

And most importantly, it provides professionals requiring ultimate color precision and low latency accuracy the capabilities they need as display resolutions continue scaling higher. Nano IPS has carved out a crucial niche – raising the ceiling of LCD performance to better balance competing panel strengths in the years ahead.