Buying Guide: How To Choose The Perfect Display For Your Laptop

by | Jul 2, 2018

Introduction

Personally speaking, I always feel display quality is the second most important factor to be taken into consideration while purchasing a laptop after the processors.

After all, the display is what we stare at all day, right?

Generally, people are only concerned about the size and the resolution leaving everything aside.

But is it enough?

This article would go in depth about the various types of displays found on laptops in the market and what exactly you must look for in display department while buying a laptop.

We hope to give you a rough idea of the advantages and disadvantages of these displays.

Grab a cup of coffee, sit tight and read!

What is a Display?

A display, in simple words, is an output medium for electronic devices.

In the case of laptops, it exhibits the output from the processor that arise as a result of processing inputs given by the user.

There are different ways to display the output of an electronic device.

Some of them are LCDs, Cathode ray tubes, LEDs etc.

These displays are made up of tiny dots called pixels. A laptop display is comprised of millions of such pixels.

Screen resolution is the count of pixels that a panel can display horizontally as well as vertically.

More the number of pixels, sharper and better will be your display. The pixel per inch count is determined by the combination of screen resolution and the screen size.

The quality of a display not only depends on the resolution factor but also with its colour accuracy.

The bit depth of a display is defined as the number of bits used to describe a colour. The three primary colours are red, green and blue. Rest of the colours are produced by mixing these colours.

More the number of colours a panel can output, better will be the colour accuracy.

Passive Matrix and Active Matrix Display

Passive matrix display is a story of the past.

Yet, before discussing the active matrix displays, let’s wrap our head around it a bit.

Passive matrix display consisted of a grid of horizontal and vertical conductors comprised of Indium Tin Oxide (ITO). The voltage difference at the intersection of these grids, in simple terms, creates a pixel.

Since the response time of these displays were painfully slow and the contrast ratio was less, Active matrix displays replaced them from the market.

Now, what is an active matrix display?

These displays consist of liquid crystals that change their molecular structure allowing lights of certain wavelengths to pass through.

When combined with a colour filter, active matrix display exhibits faster response times as well as better colour and contrast levels.

Screen Size Conundrum

Now we’re free falling from the nerd hill back to the basics. Brace yourselves!

What screen size should you go for while purchasing a laptop?

Well, that entirely depends upon your use-case.

If you are looking for a desktop replacement, the laptop should feature a larger display. If portability is your priority, smaller displays would suit you perfectly.

For easy understanding, we’ve made a table for you to decide which is what.

Screen sizeUse – case scenario
17” and higherDesktop replacement laptops
15” – 17”Lightweight and portable laptops
13.3” – 15”Ultraportable devices

From the table above, you might’ve gotten a hint about the display size that might suit you.

It isn’t over yet.

There are a number of display types around.

What’s the best one for you? Let’s see.

The most commonly seen displays in the case of laptops are the TN and IPS displays.

TN Displays

TN panels are the cheapest type of displays among the bunch.

They are mostly used in entry-level laptops and budget laptops available in the market.

This type of display contains twisted nematic liquid crystals sandwiched between two polarized glasses.

These displays exhibit below par colour reproduction and viewing angles

IPS Displays

IPS displays offer wide viewing angles, thanks to the In-Plane Switching behaviour of the liquid crystals used.

IPS displays are found on both budget as well as premium laptops.

They have superior image quality, colour output and contrast to give a better experience.

IPS PanelTN Panel
Viewing anglesgreatpoor
Colour reproductionexcellentpoor
Response timefastfast
Contrastgooddecent
Refresh rategoodexcellent

We can conclude that the IPS panels offer wide viewing angles as well as colour reproduction when compared with the TN panels.

The refresh rates are great in TN panels but with the advancement of technologies in the industry, there are a number of laptops priced under Rs. 50,000 that feature great IPS panels with refresh rates similar to that of the TN panels.

The HP Envy 13-ad079TU is one such laptop that comes with a price tag of Rs.49,990

Resolution

The resolution, in layman terms, is the number of pixels or dots that a panel is capable of displaying.

The displays these days commonly comes in various resolutions such as :

1. HD ready ( 1366*768 Pixels )
2. Full HD ( 1920* 1080 Pixels )
3. 4K ( 3840*2160 Pixels )

In reality, more the number of pixels doesn’t necessarily mean that the clarity of the panel will be higher.

It is the pixel per inch ( ppi ) measure that determines the clarity.

Most of the entry level budget laptops priced under Rs.20,000 comes with an HD display.

Don’t be fooled by the tag though. A display with 1920 x 1080 pixels will always be referred to as a full HD panel and not as an HD panel.

Anti Glare Coating

Displays are often very reflective. They bounce of much of the light that hits the surface.

This makes viewing them under a bright light source a stressful experience.

If you’re using your laptop inside a building, this won’t matter much as the light source can be controlled.

If you’re the one frequenting outdoors using your laptop on the go, having an anti-glare display will definitely help.

Anti-glare panels reflect much lesser light and reduce the stress on your eyes significantly.

Conclusion

Summarizing this entire post, we now know that the display is not just about its size or its resolution, but much more.

Even at this point, remember that the specs on paper won’t always convert to the real life performance.

Two displays with same specifications from two different manufacturers might show a significant difference in quality and colour reproduction.

Walking into a physical store and checking out in person is the only reliable method to zero in on the best display you can get with the money in hand.