You can’t ignore color gamut when shopping for a liquid-crystal display (LCD). LCDs support a variety of different colors. They feature subpixels with color filters that, when illuminated by the backlighting system, result in colored images. But some LCDs are able to produce a wider range of colors than others.

What Is Color Gamut?

The term “color gamut” refers to the range of visible colors a given display is capable of producing. Displays can have a narrow color gamut, or they can have a wide color gamut. Displays with a narrow color gamut, of course, are capable of producing fewer visible colors than their counterparts with a wide color gamut.

Why Color Gamut Is Important

Color gamut is important because of its impact on image quality. All displays work by producing images out of pixels. LCDs are displays that leverage liquid pixels to produce images. Whether it’s a computer monitor, TV, human machine interface (HMI) or a touchscreen, the LCD will feature liquid pixels. A backlighting system will illuminate these liquid pixels to produce colored images. The LCD’s color gamut will determine the range of colors it’s capable of producing.

Color Gamut vs Contrast Ratio

Many people assume that color gamut and contrast ratio are the same, but this isn’t true. While they are both color-based specifications for displays, including LCDs, color gamut and contrast ratio refer to different things.

Color gamut is a specification for the range of colors a given display is capable of producing. Contrast ratio, on the other hand, is the difference between the brightest and darkest colors a display can produce. When shopping for an LCD, you may want to consider both of these specifications. A wide color gamut will result in more colors. A high contrast ratio, in comparison, will result in brighter white colors and darker black colors.

IPS LCDs and Color Gamut

When compared to other display technologies, LCDs typically offer a wider color gamut. But there are different types of LCDs. In-plane switching (IPS) is a specific type of LCD that’s capable of producing a particularly wide range of colors.

IPS LCDs involve the use of liquid pixels that are aligned in a parallel plane to the substrate on which they are placed. They apply an electrical charge to this substrate. Doing so forces the liquid pixels to change their orientation — a process known as switching. IPS is one of the two main LCD technologies, with the other being twisted nematic (TN).