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Dell’s new UltraSharp 4K monitors are “IPS Black”—what does that mean?


Dell's UltraSharp U3223QE is a 31.5-inch IPS Black monitor.
Enlarge / Dell’s UltraSharp U3223QE is a 31.5-inch IPS Black monitor.

Dell

Dell announced two new models in its popular UltraSharp monitor lineup on Thursday. The displays have been a favorite of office workers, creatives, and—because of their USB-C connectivity—Mac users. Now, LG Display is introducing what it’s calling “IPS Black,” which will come to Dell’s lineup in the UltraSharp 32 (U3223QE) and 27 (U2723QE) 4K USB-C Hub Monitors.

What is IPS Black, and should we expect it to give the monitors an edge over the competition?

First, what is IPS?

To understand IPS Black, a new type of IPS panel, it helps to have a basic understanding of IPS, or in-plane switching. IPS is one of the three types of LED panels in PC monitors and TVs, alongside VA (vertical alignment) and TN (twisted nematic).

The three technologies work a bit differently, resulting in various pros and cons. IPS panels have better viewing angles, meaning it’s easier to see the on-screen image when looking at it from a side angle. They’re also known for their exceptional color reproduction, especially when compared to TN panels.

Simply put, IPS panels have liquid crystals aligned parallel to the glass surfaces sandwiching them. When an electric charge is applied, the crystals rotate; they maintain a parallel position but allow light to come through and create an image. The technology differs from the liquid crystals in a TN panel, which twist to 90 degrees to allow light through. TN panels have historically maintained faster refresh rates and response times, but we’re seeing IPS catch up in expensive gaming monitors.

IPS screens also differ from VA panels, which deliver better contrast ratios. VA panels have liquid crystals perpendicular to the glass substrates and tilt to let light pass through. As noted by monitor company ViewSonic, this makes them better at blocking unneeded backlight, resulting in deeper blacks and higher contrast ratios.

So what’s IPS Black?

Just as QD-OLED promises to bring better performance to OLED screens, IPS Black is a new type of IPS that claims to provide better contrast than standard IPS monitors can produce.

LG Display announced IPS Black in January but hasn’t shared much information about how the technology works. At the time, LG Display said the panels have a black level that is “35 percent deeper than existing IPS products,” and it promised that the displays would deliver “extreme clarity and precise color accuracy.”

The U3223QE and U2723QE UltraSharp monitors are the first IPS Black monitors available. Dell says the displays have a contrast ratio of 2,000:1—meaning that a black image looks 2,000 times darker than a white one. That’s two times greater than what most IPS monitors offer. For comparison, the UltraSharp 30 U3023E— also announced Thursday—uses a standard IPS panel and has a contrast ratio of 1,000:1. (All three monitors have been listed for a while, as reported by sites like Tom’s Hardware, but Dell is making its first formal announcement today.)

Dell's new UltraSharp U3023E is a 16:10 2560x1600 IPS monitor<strong>. </strong>
Enlarge / Dell’s new UltraSharp U3023E is a 16:10 2560×1600 IPS monitor

Dell

Further, the 31.5-inch and 27-inch IPS Black monitors each claim to cover 98 percent of the DCI-P3 color space and 100 percent of sRGB. For comparison, the 27-inch UltraSharp U2720Q, which has a high contrast ratio for an IPS monitor (1,300:1), covers 95 percent of DCI-P3 and 99 percent of sRGB.

LG Display’s IPS Black announcement also said the tech “significantly lowers the level of blue light.” Dell doesn’t say that its new UltraSharps have any low blue light-fighting advantage beyond its hardware-based ComfortView Plus, which the company introduced in 2020.

Dell says you can expect this type of performance.
Enlarge / Dell says you can expect this type of performance.

LG Display also said IPS Black panels would allow for “a nearly borderless design.” Considering the IPS Black-based UltraSharps continue the series’ use of teeny-tiny bezels, we’d say that checks out.

Dell won’t be the only company to use IPS Black technology. LG Display sells to various companies, and LG plans to release its own IPS Black monitors. There’s still no word on if there will be IPS Black TVs.



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