TN panels good enough after all?

Started May 16, 2009 | Discussions thread
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TN panels good enough after all?
May 16, 2009

Well, after a couple of years with a so-so laptop panel, a couple months with a truly bad (for photo editing) Dell standard TN LCD, and again years with my wife's old CRT, I am looking forward to finally get a new LCD for photo editing. After some searching and reading the current favorites still seem to be s-IPS or at least newer PVA technologies. Dell had the 2209WA on offer for not too much $ so I thought this will be it, I am not going to pay much more than this for my purposes.

Then some things got me thinking.

Firstly my wife's new Acer standard TN widescreen 20" does not bad at all. Running Lagom's LCD test battery it does a lot better than my CRT (ahem). The colors are not quite as saturated but contrast range is way better for instance.

Then I noticed that the only two IPS monitors I could actually see in action in store (LG L2000CP and Philips 240PW9EB; Dell of course has to be bought sight unseen), looked unremarkable to me in terms of image quality - a bit greyish in the colors, yet not in the "natural" way, and somehow undersaturated. Quite unlike the "wow" effect I had when I first saw an Eizo. But I am not going to pay for an Eizo, not even for a NEC.

Then I saw some better spec'd Philips TN panels in store (190B9CB and 220BW9CB), the viewing angle was given as 175/170 as compared to most of their TN models wich are given as 160/160 and they are marketed to business. Those two monitors were also a bit more expensive than the other TNs by Philips. Well I actually really liked these monitors' color presentation and contrast, it seemed natural, and the viewing angle truly was better than usual, for instance i could not see the usual "negative" inversion many TN panels have. Unfortunately this store did not have the IPS Philips up there side by side.

Finally I read through PRAD's review of the Dell 2207WA and a consumer grade level 22" Philips, the 220CW9FB. While the Dell made the overall "very good" grade and the Philips just a "satisfactory", if you parse the review carefully the Dell was not all roses and the Philips quite respectable, depending on criteria. For instance the Philips seemed (to my reading) better in sRGB accuracy once calibrated correctly.

Now my dilemma: The Philips 22" widescreen is 20% cheaper than the Dell but at this point it's not about the price: I am simply unsure whether I'll actually like the Dell better or for that matter whether it actually "is" better for my purposes.

So here my questions: could it be that the better technology TN panels (say Philips 220BW9CB) now rival the cheaper kinds of IPS panel (say Dell 2007WA)? Does anybody own or have a comment on the mentioned Philips models? Basically what to do, follow the conventional wisdom and shoot for IPS no matter what or be daring and follow my gut feeling that TN must not always be inferior, in fact, could do better than IPS in some aspects?

Background on me: 30+ years photography, much of it slides, now digital. But I rarely print, if I do I go to labs that mess it up anyway, and most of my current photos are displayed on screen (also on LCD TV where they look really good) in some way. I know what "good" is, I think. But then, there's also "good enough". And I am cheap. I mostly want to avoid bad mistakes in editing, and I want to be able to clearly see (and correct) artefacts / noise etc of digital production, because I also sell photos with a certain royalty free website. They reject photos with artefacts, which I just can't see on my CRT anymore. But none ever came back for bad color...

Sorry for the long rambling.

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