Passive-matrix is an LCD technology that uses a grid of vertical and horizontal wires to display an image on the screen. Each pixel is controlled by an intersection of two wires in the grid. By altering the electrical charge at a given intersection, the color and brightness of the corresponding pixel can be changed.

While passive-matrix displays are relatively simple and inexpensive to produce, they have a few drawbacks. Since the charge of two wires (both vertical and horizontal) must be altered in order to change a single pixel, the response time of passive-matrix displays is relatively slow. This means fast movement on a passive-matrix display may appear blurry or faded, since the electrical charges cannot keep up with the motion. On some passive-matrix displays, you may experience "ghosting" if you move the cursor quickly across the screen.

Since passive-matrix monitors do not display fast motion well, most modern flat screen displays use active-matrix technology. Instead of managing pixels through intersections of wires, active-matrix displays control each pixel using individual capacitors. This allows pixels to change brightness and color states much more rapidly. While most of today's computer monitors and flat screen televisions have active-matrix screens, passive-matrix displays are still used in some smaller devices, since they are less expensive to produce.

Updated March 18, 2011 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

Which of the following technologies might be used in an LCD display?

Correct! Incorrect!     View the TFT definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of Passive-Matrix on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.