Dell’s new UltraSharp 4K monitors are ‘IPS Black’ — what does that mean?
Dell on Thursday announced two new models in its popular line of UltraSharp monitors. The displays are a favorite of office workers, creatives and, due to 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 monitors an edge over the competition?
First of all, 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 three types of LED panels in PC monitors and televisions, alongside VA (vertical alignment) and TN (twisted nematic).
The three technologies work a bit differently, resulting in various advantages and disadvantages. IPS panels have better viewing angles, which means it’s easier to see the image on the screen when viewing it from a side angle. They are 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 that sandwich them. When an electric charge is applied, the crystals spin; they maintain a parallel position but let light through and create an image. The technology differs from liquid crystals in a TN panel, which twist 90 degrees to let light through. TN panels have historically maintained faster refresh rates and response times, but we see IPS catching up in expensive gaming monitors.
IPS screens also differ from VA panels, which offer better contrast ratios. VA panels have liquid crystals perpendicular to the glass substrates and tilt to let light through. As noted by monitor company ViewSonic, this makes them more effective at blocking out unnecessary backlighting, resulting in deeper blacks and higher contrast ratios.
So what is IPS Black?
Just as QD-OLED promises to bring better performance to OLED displays, IPS Black is a new type of IPS that claims to offer better contrast than standard IPS monitors can produce.
LG Display announced IPS Black in January but didn’t share much information about how the technology works. At the time, LG Display said the panels had a “35% deeper black level than existing IPS products,” and it promised the displays would deliver “extreme clarity and pinpoint color accuracy.”
The U3223QE and U2723QE UltraSharp monitors are the first IPS Black monitors available. Dell claims the screens have a 2,000:1 contrast ratio, which means a black image looks 2,000 times darker than a white image. That’s twice what most IPS monitors offer. For comparison, the UltraSharp 30 U3023E – also announced on Thursday – uses a standard IPS panel and has a 1,000:1 contrast ratio. (All three monitors have been listed for a while, as reported by sites like Tom’s Hardware, but Dell is making its first official announcement today.)
Additionally, the 31.5-inch and 27-inch IPS Black monitors each claim to cover 98% of the DCI-P3 color space and 100% of sRGB. For comparison, the 27-inch UltraSharp U2720Q, which has a high contrast ratio for an IPS monitor (1300:1), covers 95% DCI-P3 and 99% sRGB.
LG Display’s IPS Black ad also said the technology “significantly reduces the level of blue light”. Dell isn’t saying its new UltraSharps have any edge in fighting low blue light beyond its hardware-based ComfortView Plus, which the company introduced in 2020.
LG Display also claimed that the IPS Black panels would enable “nearly borderless design”. Considering the IPS Black-based UltraSharps continue the series’ use of tiny bezels, we’d say that checks out.
Dell won’t be the only company using IPS Black technology. LG Display sells to various companies and LG plans to launch its own IPS Black monitors. It’s still unclear if there will be IPS Black TVs.
As for Dell’s recently announced UltraSharps, all three claim to achieve 400 nits of brightness and 60Hz refresh rate. The 27-inch IPS Black monitor has an MSRP of $725, but Dell already has it. on sale for $625. For comparison, Dell’s 27-inch U2720Q, with a standard IPS panel, is currently $590. The 32-inch IPS Black monitor has an MSRP of $1,150 but is currently discounted to $920. And the non-IPS Black U3023E has an MSRP of $1,050 but costs $785 at the time of writing.