The PVA technology (Patterned Vertical Alignment) was developed by Samsung as an alternative to MVA. Well, it was not the only case when Samsung chose the same development strategy – there was the ACE technology, practically analogous to the ordinary IPS. However, I can’t say PVA is a copy of MVA developed by Samsung only to avoid paying licensing fees to Fujitsu. You are going to see below that the parameters and the development ways of PVA and MVA are so different that PVA can be truly regarded as an independent technology.
The liquid crystals in a PVA matrix have the same structure as in a MVA one – domains with varying orientation of the crystals allow keeping the same color, almost irrespective of the user’s line of sight. In fact, the viewing angles (as traditionally measured by the reduction of the contrast ratio to 10:1) are limited not by the matrix, but rather by the plastic framing around the screen.
Alas, there’s the same problem with PVA matrices as with MVA ones – their response time grows catastrophically when there’s a smaller difference between the initial and final states of the pixel.
No so long ago Samsung released the PVA-based SyncMaster 193P model with a full response time of 20msec, but it’s like with the 16msec MVA matrices – the matrix is really faster than its predecessors, but this improvement is negligible considering the above-illustrated correlation between the pixel’s initial and final states.
Color reproduction is not perfect, too, like with MVA matrices: when you are looking straight at the screen, the matrix “loses” some shades, which return after you deflect your line of sight from the perpendicular a little.
The contrast ratio parameter is really good with the PVA technology, though. First, PVA matrices are manufactured by Samsung alone, so there can’t be any variation in quality between different manufacturers. Second, Samsung is actively working to improve the contrast ratio and with some results already: monitors with PVA matrices (they mostly come from Samsung, too) typically have a contrast ratio of 600..800:1. Latest models – SyncMaster 910N and 910T – boasted a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and higher in our recent tests (the calibrator I use just couldn’t measure the level of black on the 910T model, so the contrast ratio was kind of “infinite”). Generally speaking, PVA matrices are the only matrix type today for which the declared contrast values are true (sometimes the real characteristic is even better than specified). In fact, only they can show you the really deep black color.
Overall, PVA matrices could be said to be an improved version of MVA. Without any new defects, save for those already present in the MVA technology, PVA matrices feature a better contrast ratio and a much more predictable production quality due to their being manufactured on the facilities of one manufacturer only.