LCD technology has been around for a significant amount of time. However, it has been in the past 10 years or so that LCD technology has really taken off, making advances by leaps and bounds. Despite these advances, some LCD technologies still have weaknesses. One of these weaknesses is banding.
TFT: Passive Matrix vs Active Matrix
These days, all LCD panels are TFT panels. However, before the current crop of TFT types, the battle was between active matrix and passive matrix. Passive matrix consumed less power, but also had poor colour and clarity. Active matrix won, and the battle moved on to newer types of active matrix.
Current TFT Technology
Twisted Nematic, In Plane Switching and Vertical Alignment are the three main types pf LCD technology in use today. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. IPS and VA displays have better viewing angles, and display a broad range of colours. However, they have a slower pixel response time. TN panels have the fastest pixel response times, but suffer from having less of a colour range.
VA and IPS Panels
Most all VA and IPS panels out today will tout being 8 bit. What this actually means is that they are 8 bits per colour, or 24-bit colour panels. This means that each pixel on the screen can represent one of 16.7 million colours. Twenty-four-bit colour is also known as Truecolor.
TN panels are the cheapest panels on the market. They also tout the quickest pixel response times, as quick as two milliseconds. But this comes at a cost. TN panels are only 6 bits per colour, or 18-bit colour overall. This means each pixel can only display one out of 262,144 colours. Some TN panels use dithering as a means to reproduce the missing colours, but this is generally a poor method of colour reproduction.
Banding is what happens when an LCD is unable to reproduce all of the colours in a given image. This is common with TN panels since they only use 6 bits per colour. Banding is most noticeable on colour gradients. A Truecolor panel will display a smooth transition of colour, where the lesser panel will show a gradient, but with noticeable bands in between areas of colour.
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