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MVA Matrices

The MVA technology (Multidomain Vertical Alignment) was developed by Fujitsu in 1998 as a compromise between TN+Film and IPS technologies. On the one hand, MVA provided a full response time of 25 milliseconds (that was impossible with IPS then and not easily achievable with TN), and on the other hand, MVA matrices have viewing angles of 160..170 degrees, and thus can compete with IPS in that parameter. Besides that, MVA provides for a much higher contrast ratio than TN or IPS.

MVA’s precursor, the single-domain VA technology, had been developed by Fujitsu two years earlier. Small viewing angles were its main disadvantage. Take a look at the figure below – a half-open pixel is on the right. If you look at such a pixel from above, everything will be all right: the crystals will be at an angle of 45 degrees to your line of sight and the pixel will look gray as it should. But if you look at it from the right, you’ll see the same crystals under a right angle, which is going to appear as white color. A look from the left would mean your line of sight being parallel to the crystals – you’ll see black color. Thus, VA matrices didn’t just have small viewing angles – the specific effect from a high viewing angle also depended on which side you have deflected your head to.

This problem was solved by dividing each pixel into domains which worked synchronously. Crystals in the domains are oriented differently, so if one domain lets light pass through, the neighboring domain will have the crystals at an angle and will shutter the light (of course, save for the display of white color, in which case all the crystals are placed almost in parallel to the matrix plane). Like with IPS matrices, an inactive pixel doesn’t pass light through, so defective pixels look as black dots on MVA matrices.

For a few years analysts were forecasting a bright future and a big portion of the market for MVA matrices: TN matrices should have been ousted into the low-end market sector as they were originally cheaper than MVA ones, while expensive S-IPS matrices should have reigned in the top-end sector, leaving the market’s mainstream to the MVA technology. Those forecasts never came true, though. Besides the above-described effect from the onslaught of cheap 16msec TN matrices, MVA matrices were rather too expensive for their responsiveness. No, I’m not mistaken: despite all the claims about an excellent (by the standards of that time) response time of 25 milliseconds, MVA matrices proved to be among the slowest. The trick is in the measurement method, like it nearly always is with the response time characteristic. Here’s a graph:

This depressing picture is true for every MVA matrix – the response time grows dramatically when there’s a smaller difference between the pixel’s initial and final states. Thus, such matrices are practically unsuitable for dynamic games, i.e. for home use. Of course, “suitability” is a subjective category, and some people may be quite satisfied with the image produced by an MVA matrix, but they are objectively slower than TN as well as IPS matrices anyway.

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