With an expected decline in LCD monitor sales growth in the coming year, manufacturers are reacting to the trend by offering better differentiated models in the mainstream 21" to 25" range. A couple of weeks ago Dell quietly pushed out a new 24-inch UltraSharp monitor that uses an IPS panel and that with a few trade-offs shaves off over $200 in respect to the U2410, which is aimed at professional users.

Dell also offers a budget 23-inch IPS monitor that for a short timespan could be bought for a mere $250 (currently ~$305). Other taiwanese manufacturers are joining the party as well. Mitsubishi, AOC and Viewsonic are already offering or expected to offer 23-inch IPS monitors this year. According to Digitimes, increased interest in IPS panels is in part explained by the demand of the Apple iPad 2 and the promise of wide viewing angles.

Compared to monitors using twisted nematic (TN) panels, the IPS equivalents are about $35 more expensive to make, and that number goes up as the screen size increases. In addition, monitors using IPS panels are usually aimed at feature-conscious consumers who demand enhanced connectivity in the form of integrated USB hubs and extra video inputs, which ultimately drives prices up.

The Tech Report also points out an interesting fact: TN displays tipically offer six bits per color channel which is at a disadvantage to IPS' 8-bit color output, which should result in better color reproduction. However most recently a new crop of cheaper "6-bit + A-FRC" (Advanced Frame Rate Control) IPS panels are making it to market. In fact, the aforementioned UltraSharp U2311H monitor is one of those monitors, though it's been received with raving reviews so far.

For a while the desktop monitor landscape looked grim, with most manufacturers focused on marketing fast response times, and later on offering large screen sizes for attractive prices. This came to be at the expense of color reproduction and viewing angles. The latter is typical of budget laptops, however the desktop market also seemed to be contaminated with this trend, hopefully this is finally coming to an end.