Difference Between LED Display, Panel and Monitor
An LED display is just the same as LED Panel, it is flat panel display that uses light emitting diodes as pixels. In other words, light emitting diodes are individually placed in an array. Since they are very bright, LED displays are often used outdoors as billboards and store signs. In last few years they are commonly used in public transport vehicles or as destination signs.
An LED Monitor on the other hand is computer monitor with liquid crystals, just like LCD, but instead of cold cathode fluorescent lamps, LEDs use light emitting diodes as backlight source. There are different types of LED displays and I will explain them but let's see first how LED monitors work.
How LED Monitors Work?
An LED monitor is actually an LCD monitor. Only difference is backlight used for illumination. While LCD use cold cathode fluorescent lamps (CCFL), LED monitors use light emitting diodes (LED) as source of backlight. They are more energy efficient and thinner than monitors with CCFL. Although marketing companies made a lot of noise when LEDs were introduced, compared to LCDs they don’t provide much quality improvement.
LED monitors are composed from two parts:
- Liquid crystal display
- Light source at the back of the screen
Light diffuser is placed between light source and liquid crystal display in order to make the source of light more uniform across the whole screen.
Only difference between types of LED monitors is in light source that is placed at the back of the screen. Therefore, we have 3 different types of LED monitors:
- Direct Lit
- Edge Lit
- Full Array
Different Monitor Panel Types
You are familiar that monitors come in various sizes and resolutions. Some of them have glossy screen while others are with matte screen surface. Also, monitors can with features like 3D capabilities or 120Hz refresh rate. While we all look at the specifications and say: “WoooW!” but we forget one fundamental difference between all of them - type of the panel!
We may divide all monitors in three groups by the type of panel that they have:
- TN (Twisted Nematic) Panels
- VA (Vertical Alignment) Panels
- IPS (In-Plane Switching), PLS (Plane to Line Switching) and AHVA (Advanced Hyper-Viewing Angle) Panels
Matte or Glossy Screens
More often than not, manufacturing companies misrepresent their product and they are poorly understood by consumers. One monitor attribute is discussed by users pretty often - screen surface. Unlike CRT monitors from the past, modern monitors are not restricted by reflective glass surface.
Source of this side by side comparison of Matte and Glossy display is laptopscreen.com
Matte screen have outer polarizing layer that is coarsened with mechanical and chemical processing. Very often manufacturers use multilayer sputtering or several passes of deep coating followed by surface treatment with chemicals. I will not get into production methods in this article as we are more interested in end results.
Matte screen finish is created to diffuse ambient light instead of reflecting it back to the viewer. Outer surface is something like a mirror. Since glare is reduced we often call this as anti-glare. This optical property has its drawback since this surface works both ways - light emitted from the monitor is also affected.
- Reduced glare improves visibility
- Potentially less eyestrain
- Dust and dirt less visible
- Reduced contrast and color vibrancy
- Reduction of sharpness
- More difficult to clean
Glossy screen has smooth outer polarising layer. Rather than defusing, their surface tend to reflect back ambient light causing unwanted glare and reflection. On a positive side, light emitted from the monitor is not interfered by finishing process so colors appear to be richer and more vibrant.
Latest computer monitors are treated with anti reflective chemical coating that absorbs ambient light. Therefore, you may see that manufacturers call their models: Dell TrueBright, HP BrightView, Sony Xbrite, ASUS ColorShine, etc. By knowing this, you will understand what method is used to reduce glaring.
No matter what technology is behind creating anti reflecting coating, glossy screens tend to reflect ambient light. In order to compensate this, user's push brightness of their monitor to the maximum. Even though reflection of ambient light is reduced, anti reflecting coating can not eliminate this effect.
- Reduced reflection in certain conditions
- Easier cleaning
- Better aesthetic appeal
- Cleaner image
- Direct light causes reflection
- Strong ambient light causes reflection
- Potentially increased eyestrain
- Dust and dirt more visible
LED Monitor Features and Connections (Ports)
When you take a look at names of LED monitors, from the name you will recognize panel type and what kind of coating was used in production. We have covered that in previous sections. Now, when shopping for LED monitor you will find yourself looking at all kind of specifications, additional features and connections. Now I will list what you need to understand, so pay close attention.
I will start with connections. LED monitors are typically produced with few different connections for connection with your PC or console. Most common connections or ports are:
- Audio In/Out
Important Note: for connecting HDMI devices pay attenting on HDMI rating of your monitor. For example, HDMI 1.2 supports up to 1080p resolution, HDMI 1.3 support up to 1600p. For 4K resolution you need monitor with HDMI 2.0 port. Display port 1.2 and newer supports 4K resolution.
When searching for LED monitor, if you want to make sure that you have bought right one for your money - you need to pay attention to following features and specifications. Once you know what you need, you will know exactly what to look. Most common features or specifications:
- Panel Size - panel size is measured from corner to corner (diagonally). We have 19, 21, 25, 27 inch monitors, etc.
- Aspect Ratio - ratio of the image in relation to the height vs width of the monitor. Most common aspects are 4:3 and 16:9
- Response Time - time needed for pixel to change color from white to black and white again. Effectively, time needed for pixel to change color from one to another.
- Contrast Ration - difference between brightest white and darkest black. Look for static contrast at least 1000:1.
Brightness - brightest white that can be displayed measured in cd/m2.
- Viewing Angles - typically displayed as 170/160 (170 degree horizontal, 160 degree vertical viewing). IPS have best viewing angle offering 178/178 degrees.
- Refresh Rate - typically between 60-75 Hz, modern monitors with 120Hz. Even if your panel is more than 60Hz, if you connect it to DVI it will be capped at 60Hz.
- Color Depth - how many colors it can produce, most common is 16.2 million colors (8-bit), 1.07 billion (10-bit) monitors.
- Pixel Pitch - distance between pixels. Tighter pixels produce sharper image.
Considering that there is so much to tell about OLED and Ultra HD monitors, I will let that for another article. Please, make sure to check other articles on my site as well as I will do my best to explain you want to know in plain language. If you think that something is not true in my text, please send me an email and I will check my sources once more.
I`m really interested in knowing what you have t say about LED monitors. Since it is a bit complicated for me to put comments here on site feel free to send me an email. I will edit this page adding you thoughts, observations or anything you have said.