For a long time it seemed as though display innovation was stuck in a rut, at least in the PC space. For several years a top of the line monitor was a 30-inch display with a 2560x1600 resolution. Not anymore. Display makers have been stepping up their game. That includes Panasonic, which has developed a new type of In-Plane Switching (IPS) liquid crystal panel with a contrast ratio of over 1,000,000:1 and peak brightness of 1,000 nits.
You've probably seen higher contrast ratio numbers before, but those are dynamic ratings, not static or native numbers. Somewhat simplified, a contrast ratio measures the difference between a display's brightest and darkest image, going from white to black. The problem is there doesn't exist a standard way to measure this, so display makers can easily fudge the numbers.
On top of that, there are two contrast ratios. A native measurement reflects what the display technology can do. Most displays top out at 1,000:1. A dynamic contrast ratio factors in display technologies that supplement the underlying technology. For example, a display might increase or decrease its light output to create brighter and darker images, and a dynamic contrast ratio is a measurement of this.
What makes Panasonic's new panel so intriguing is that the 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio is static, not dynamic. That's about 600 times higher than conventional displays. It achieves this by integrating newly developed light-modulating cells that allow per-pixel control of backlight intensity.
"This achieves a faithful and high-grade video display, ranging from dazzling light to pitch-black," Panasonic says.
Panasonic envisions its new panel being used in professional grade High Dynamic Range (HDR) monitors for broadcasting stations and video production studios. The technology could also find its way to medical monitors and automotive displays. There's no mention of it being used in the consumer space, but that's how these things go—they start up high and trickle down into the mainstream as technologies mature and costs come down.
We're getting ahead of ourselves, though .Panasonic said it will begin sample shipments in January 2017.