When shopping for a liquid-crystal display (LCD), you may come across TFT models. Short for “thin-film transistor,” they’ve become increasingly popular in recent years. Like other LCDs, TFT LCDs feature liquid pixels. TFT LCDs are unique, however, in several ways.

The Basics of TFT LCDs

A TFT LCD is a type of display device that’s characterized by the use of film-transistor transistors. Each individual pixel in a TFT LCD features a thin-film transistor attached to it.

Also known as active-matrix LCDs, TFT LCDs feature a thin-film transistor at each junction where the pixels intersects. Electricity is then funneled from two conductors to the appropriate pixels. The pixels that receive the electrical current are then activated, thereby producing the image. This is in stark contrast to passive-matrix LCDs, which don’t feature thin-film transistors attached to the pixels.

Types of TFT LCD Technology

It’s important to note that there are two primary types of TFT LCD technology: twisted nematic and in-plane switching. Twisted nematic TFT LCDs are among the oldest types of LCDs on the market. They only use six bits per red, green, blue channel, making their colors somewhat limited.

In comparison, in-plane switching TFT LCD is a newer type of display technology that was originally introduced in the mid-1990s by Hitachi. In-plane switching TFT LCDs live up to their namesake by featuring liquid pixels that can move parallel to the display’s plane rather than perpendicular to it.

Advantages of TFT LCDs

TFT LCDs offer several advantages over other types of LCDs, one of which is energy efficiency. Granted, some of the early model TFT LCDs weren’t particularly energy efficient. Over the years, however, manufacturers have improved and optimized TFT LCD technology so that it requires less energy to operate.

TFT LCDs are also relatively inexpensive. When compared to other types of LCDs, they typically cost less, making them an attractive choice for business owners who are on a tight budget.

Disadvantages of TFT LCDs

TFT LCDs require the use of a glass display panel, which restricts their utility for certain applications. If an LCD is intended to be used outdoors, for example, a glass display may prove ineffective.

The brightness of a TFT LCD is largely influenced by its backlight. LCDs don’t actually produce light. Rather, they require the use of a backlight, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs).