Comparing LCD types found in TVs

LCD stands for "liquid crystal display". There are two types of LCD panels used in LED-backlit TVs today: In Plane Switching (IPS) and Vertical Alignment (VA). While they are both Liquid Crystal Display types, there are many differences between the performance of these two technologies.


What it is: LED TV with an In-Plane Switching type panel.

Who should buy it: People with a wide living room who might watch the TV while sitting at an angle.


What it is: LED TV with a Vertically Aligned type panel.

Who should buy it: Those looking for good picture quality in a dark room, and who don't have a need for wider viewing angles.

Viewing angle ~36 ° ~20 °
Contrast ~1000:1 >3000:1
Black Uniformity Poor Good

We will compare over the course of this article the main differentiations between the two: contrast, viewing angle, and black uniformity.

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Viewing angle

(IPS) Sony X850D

Viewing Angle: 36 °

(VA) Samsung KS8000

Viewing Angle: 20 °

Viewing angle refers to the angle at which you can watch the TV without seeing a noticeable drop in picture quality. Some types of LCDs do this better than others.

IPS TVs are a clear winner here. This is one of their advantages over other types of LCD. Most VA TVs will have a sizable degradation in quality by 20° to the side, the way it can be seen is a dramatic loss of saturation. IPS TVs will lose luminosity instead. They generally go until around 36° before losing half their brightness, but we have seen some go over 50°. The narrow viewing angle of VA type TVs is also problematic when the TV is used as a PC monitor from up close since the edges of the display will end up losing picture quality.

Winner: IPS

Learn more about viewing angle


Contrast: 1248 : 1
Contrast: 6906 : 1

Contrast is the most important factor in picture quality. While neither of these LCD technologies will achieve the black levels of OLED, some are better than others.

VA technology is far beyond IPS panels when it comes to contrast. Blacks are far darker, and it shows. When in a dark environment, blacks will appear gray on IPS TVs, substantially diminishing the experience. VA contrast ratios usually range from 3000:1 to 6000:1, IPS are more in the surrounding of 1000:1. Because of this, VA LCDs will always top our Movie ratings, only surpassed by OLEDs. This only impairs the dark room performance, though, since the difference is far less visible in a bright environment.

Winner: VA

Learn more about contrast ratio

Black uniformity

Std. Dev.: 1.792 %
Std. Dev.: 0.534 %

While neither technologies are inherently worse at it, almost every IPS type panel we've tested have been made by LG. These all come with the same flaw of having lesser than average black uniformity. VA panels tend to perform better on average in this metric when compared to IPS ones, in fact, IPS TVs dominate the bottom of our lists.

There's an additional type of clouding present on IPS TVs. It appears when you are off-angle vertically, this is what we call "IPS Glow." It is very similar visually to standard black uniformity issues, but it will normally have a yellow tint.

Winner: VA

Learn about black uniformity

Technical Differences

Liquid crystal displays (LCD) function by having, as the name suggest, liquid crystals in the little colored packets that form the pixels. These crystals react and change position when charged with electricity, and they block more or less light depending on their position.

IPS displays have their crystals aligned horizontally at all times. When charged, they only rotate to allow light out. VA displays have their crystals aligned vertically. When they are charged, they move to a horizontal position allowing light through, similar to IPS. When current isn't sent through them, however, their vertical alignment blocks light far more efficiently, thus creating better blacks and giving better contrast.

You can also find PLS type displays. These are fundamentally the same as IPS, except made by Samsung. They tend to have excellent response times but are otherwise no different. When you compare the pixels visually, IPS will look like chevrons; VA will look like very straight rectangles and PLS will look like round edged capsules.


Neither technology is inherently superior to the other, they both serve different purposes. In general, IPS TVs will have a wide viewing angle suitable for use in a bright living room for sports or TV shows. They also benefit PC monitor use, since edges darken with a low viewing angle. VA TVs will instead have better contrast rendering them better for use in a dark, home-theater type of environment. Choosing between the two is a series of trade-offs and qualities, so pick depending on your usage as neither are the absolute best.

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Questions & Answers

My current usage is watching movies, tv and sports in a kind of well lit room, and price being similar which is better: the Vizio M60-D1 or the Samsung 60KU6300?
The M60-D1 is better in a well lit room. It has wide viewing angles thanks to its IPS panel, so people sitting off to the side of the TV can still have good picture quality; wheras the KU6300 has worse viewing angles due to its VA panel. The M60-D1 is also a 120 Hz TV, which provides smoother motion when motion interpolation is enabled.

One disadvantage of the M60-D1 is that it has a lower peak brightness than the KU6300, so if there is a lot of bright light reflected in the screen, such as from a window without curtains shining on the screen, then the KU6300 becomes a better choice.
Hello, I recently purchased a Vizio P55-C1 (the only one in the P series that has an IPS panel). Should I have gone with the Vizio M55-D0 (the cheaper model but it has a VA panel)? I was hoping you guys could do a test on the IPS panel in the Vizio 55" P series since it is the only IPS panel in the series it would be very interesting to see the results of the top of the line Vizio IPS panel and what contrast it can achieve.
We only review one model in a series, we have too many other TVs to test. The best contrast ratio of an IPS TV we have ever tested was 1418:1, so we don't expect the Vizio P55-C1 to be any better.

Your P55-C1 is best in a bright room or if people will be often sitting to the side of the TV and viewing it on an angle, because of its IPS panel's good viewing angles and good peak brightness. If you are viewing the TV from straight on in a dim room, the M55-D0 is the best if you can afford it; if not the P50-C1 is best if you watch a lot of HDR content and the M55-D0 is best if you don't.

I am a bit unclear as to how 'viewing angles' are measured. Is the angle measured from the center of the TV to viewers eyes to the perpendicular or is it the angle measured from the far edge of the TV which would be greater? A picture would be worth at least a couple of hundred words in this case ;)
Viewing angle is measured away from perpendicular, as shown in this diagram.
I plan to use a 55" strictly to display photography. It will be in a well lit room with a lot of windows. It will be viewed at an angle at least 1/2 of the time depending on where in the room the person is standing. Is IPS the way to go? I've got the option of getting a good deal on a LG 55UH7650 that Costco sells. I'm also considering a Sony IPS but they seem to be more expensive. What would be your recommendation assuming around $700 price point? Thanks!
An IPS TV is definitely what you're looking for. The LG 55UH7650 seems like the best option for 700$. Note that if you are displaying photos larger than 7 megapixels the UH7650 will be less accurate than other 4K TVs because of its RGBW pixel structure. A Sony XBR55X700D or LG 55UH7700 would be better, but you're unlikely to find them for $700.
I'm planning to buy a 75 inch TV for our basement. It is a walkout with windows and has a decent amount of light. This will be mixed usage with 50% TV and sports during the day and 50% movie viewing at night. The room is longer than wide but still has some off center viewing - probably 30-40 degrees off center. I'd like to stay in a budget range of 3-4K. I've been looking at the Sony X940D and X900E. I have also been looking at the LG 75SJ8570. I know the LG is an IPS panel and won't have the black levels the Sony has but it will support HDR10 as well as Dolby Vision and other HDR formats. Any advice for me?
The Samsung KS9000 75" is your best choice if you can find it in stock, otherwise go with the Sony X940D. We haven't tested the X940D or SJ8570 yet so we don't know how they will perform, but we expect the X940D to be similar to the X930D but with better local dimming, and we expect the SJ8570 to be similar to the UH8500. The KS9000 has a better anti-reflective coating and better grey uniformity than the X930D, and has similar performance in most other areas. And although the UH8500 has a much better viewing angle than the KS9000 and X930D, it performs worse in most other areas, including peak brightness, that combined outweigh the better viewing angle.

Dolby Vision support isn't really an important factor when choosing a TV because all content that supports Dolby Vision also supports HDR10, and both Dolby Vision and HDR10 exceed the capabilities of current TVs.

Are the VA panels found in pc monitors same as what we see in TVs or are they better or worse?
VA panels found in PC monitors are largely quite similar in behavior, so they will have fairly narrow viewing angles but much better contrast and blacks. Every panel is different though, so more specific aspects will differ from model to model.
Is S-PVA panel's contrast as good as VA or these are completely different technologies?
S-PVA is simply a variant of VA, and their contrast should be about the same (3000+:1)

I've read a lot of your guides and looked at comparisons based on various important factors, but still haven't found a clear answer. I am looking to buy a lower budget TV ($550-650 range) for use outdoors under a Gazebo by the pool. Would like 55"+ size. Limiting the price because being outdoors I know it may only last a few years (though I do live in SoCal so good weather and it will be protected from rain/elements). Since it's outdoors brightness is important and since it's for not only from seating all around the 12x12 Gazebo but also from the pool, viewing angles do come into play as well. We have a home theater with an OLED for "serious" movie/tv/sports watching. This is an outdoor TV by the pool so a way to watch a football game while floating around or a have a fun pool + movie night. Have been looking at the TCL 6 Series 55" 55R617 because it seems to be hands down the best bang for your buck in my price range. BUT it isn't IPS, of course, though it probably beats every other IPS TV in the same price range in every other aspect. Wondering what your recommendation would be - are there other IPS or non-IPS TV's you would suggest over the TCL 6 Series in my price range for this purpose?

Thank you for contacting us.

The TCL 6-series (R617) is a very good TV and definitely a "bang for your buck". However, for the usage you are planning what matters most is viewing angles and it's an area the R617 performs poorly. As you very accurately say your intended usage requires an IPS panel. Therefore taking into account all that you mentioned we would suggest the Sony X720E. It is in your price range, it shows SDR content failrly bright for the outdoor enviromnent, has great viewing angles, handles reflections decently and we think it will keep you happy for most of your intended usage.

Let us know what you decided!

In 2016, about a year ago as of writing, Panasonic announced a new IPS type panel that they claim boasts a one million to one contrast ratio. Do you know anything about this, as there does not seem to have been any news on it since then.
Panasonic claimed to do this by adding a layer underneath the IPS panel that controlled the amount of light transmitted on a pixel-by-pixel level; you can think of it like a second LCD layer that's black and white. Unfortunately this might hurt the viewing angle of the display and may be costly to manufacture.
When selecting a tv for PC monitor use the most popular option seems to be VA Panels such as X900E, why is that?
Generally for PC monitor use IPS panels will perform better, such as our top 40"-43" recommendation the Sony X720E. This is because people generally sit closer when using a PC monitor and so the angle to the sides of the screen is increased. On VA panels this causes the edges to be non-uniform and washed-out. Unfortunately though, there are few IPS TVs which perform well (many of LG's lineup have RGBW pixel structures which causes text to appear jagged, we haven't tested any IPS TVs with good local dimming, etc). As a result, some people prefer the better picture quality of the X900E with low input lag and excellent motion handling, even if it means the sides are non-uniform.
Great info on this site! I'm looking into getting an LG 32MU59. Boasts 10-bit color reproduction, so nice for video graphics work. It's a VA monitor... you seem to indicate that if I'll be sitting close to it, the sides might fade a bit. How far would it need to be for me to enjoy those uniform blacks?
While we didn't test the 32MU59-B, we expect it to be similar to the 32UD59-B. You would want to be at least 2-3' away from the monitor. Colors would not be much of an issue, but closer than 2-3' and the edges would be visibly darker than the rest of the screen.
I'm having an exceptionally hard time deciding between a few TV's that are all great. I'm looking at either the 55" Vizio P series or the 55"/60" Samsung KS8000 as I know the prices are starting to drop for spring. My concern is the IPS screen of the Vizio vs. the VA screen of the Samsung. I watch a lot of movies usually in darker settings but I also enjoy gaming; my living room gets a fair amount of light in the evening as well. The light leaks on the edge lit KS8000 really bothers me as does the vertical blooming, but the brightness and quantum dot technology of their VA panel is hard to beat. The Vizio 55" is a 120hz panel if my information is accurate and should also support 1080p@120hz should I want to use it as a monitor which is a huge plus. I'm upgrading from a now 6 year old Vizio that has a true 120hz IPS panel and it still looks fantastic and blacks and uniformity are actually fairly good (CCFL). My other newer Vizio with what I believe is an edge lit VA panel looks like utter garbage. Would moving to the newer IPS Vizio be on par with my current experience? I also understand that the VA panels don't produce very good reds, leaning on the orange side. I have considered the 65" VA Vizio P if the price drops enough, but I'm concerned it will simply be overkill in my living room. Your website has been a exemplary source of information.
We haven't tested the IPS version, so I cannot comment on its specific performance. If you're already used to an IPS display, the Vizio should be an improvement over your current TV. While watching movies, turning on the local dimming should greatly help the very limited IPS contrast ratio. Even when comparing both VA versions, the Vizio P will come out top because of its feature set. If your main usage is going be PC use, the Vizio P will be a better choice.
I am trying to decide between a 75" Sony X850E (which I believe has an IPS panel) and a 65" Sony X900E with a VA Panel. I understand that the X900E is a better TV overall but the real trade-off for me is bigger size & viewing angle vs. better contrast? There is ample amount of space and lighting options in the living room with a couch in front of the TV and two couches on either sides. The common usage will primarily be TV shows and occasional movies (not necessarily HDR). Any advice for me?
The 75" X850E does indeed have an IPS panel. If your center couch is further than 9.5 ft from the TV, *or* if people often view the TV from the side couches, the 75" X850E is best because of the larger size and better viewing angle. If your couch is 9.5 ft or less from the TV, *and* the side couches are rarely used, the 65" X900E is best because of the better picture quality in front.
When do you post your 2018 best TV for PC monitor ratings?
Our Best TVs For PC Monitors article is updated continually, and now has the best 2017 TVs. New 2018 models start to be available around March, and as we test them we'll add any that are good as PC monitors to the article.
I just got an XRB65x750D and have been looking for another for my parents. Yet it’s sold out everywhere and doesn’t look like it will be available for a while yet. Concerning your review of the Sony X850E which states viewing angle degrades rapidly, yet your advice above recommending the X850E for off angle viewing I’m confused. I would guess that the majority of your reviews state the TV in question suffers from off angle degradation. I would guess that my X750D has a more matte screen than the X850E which is why the X750D review says it’s good for off angle. I wonder if rtings reviews might be over exaggerating this off center image quality aspect, inadvertently? I was beginning to think that the TV’s that had ‘deteriorates GREATLY at an angle were VA panels and the TV’s to clearly avoid for wider rooms. Yet the X850E has that ‘Greatly’ adverb, and yet is being suggested for wider viewing rooms. Can you clarify this please?
This is due to Sony changing the LCD Type used in their X850 Series of TVs in 2017. The model used in the article is actually a Sony X850D from 2016 which did use an IPS Panel at the time (see our review).
Trying to decide between the following Sony 85" X850D, Samsung UN82NU8000 and LG86SJ9570. A sizable investment, I was wondering which one gives the best picture quality and overall viewing experience. Thank you.
The best TV for your usage will depend on your room requirements. The older Sony X850D offers worse picture quality than the NU8000 and SJ9570 but at the same price as the UN82NU8000. If you have a large room with large viewing angles the SJ9570 would be the better choice. It is an IPS style panel, so while it has a worse contrast ratio (blacks will appear gray in a dark room), it has a better viewing angle. If you will be sitting directly in front of the TV then the Samsung NU8000 would be the better choice. While we haven't reviewed the NU8000 or the SJ9570 we expect them to perform similarly to the MU8000 and the SJ9500 from last year.
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