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What is IPS Screens for Headrest Monitors

If you’ve been searching for the best headrest DVD player package for your vehicle, you’ve probably come across advertisements saying their headrest monitor has an IPS screen, but you don’t know what that means.  No worries, most people don’t and so allow us to give you a simple answer.

First, let’s take one step back to make sense of it all.  Nearly all headrest monitors on the market today have TFT LCD screens.  TFT stands for “Thin Film Transfer” and it’s simply a thin film used in liquid crystal displays (LCD) having a transistor at each pixel to control the pixel color.  TFT is also called “Active Matrix” because each pixel is active versus previous technologies that used a passive matrix approach.

One advantage of active matrix TFT screens is a rapid response rate offering quicker refresh rates and a clearer image.  This is good for watching movies or playing games with a lot of action or movement.

There are many types of TFT screens but we’re going to only focus on the 2 most popular types that you may see in a headrest monitor screen.  The first type of TFT screen is the TN (Twisted Nematic) type.  This is the extremely popular type of TFT technology where the LCD crystals are twisted and positioned at ninety degrees to one another, so no light passes through unless they’re activated and then untwist to allow light (and color) to pass through the filters.

The key advantage for TN TFT screens is their fast refresh rate.  However, the key disadvantage to TN TFT screen technology is lack of image quality when viewing the screen from the side.  The greater the angle of view, the less quality you’ll see in the image as the farther edges begin to darken.  In a nutshell this is technically due to the positioning of the pixels.

The newer technology called IPS which stands for “In Plane Switching” is also a TFT type of technology for LCD screens.  However, one difference with IPS panels is the position of the liquid crystal.  With IPS screens the crystals all line up to be parallel with the screen surface when “activated”.  Due to this parallel position, the image quality is much better from a wide viewing angle.  You won’t get the dark fading of the image like you see with TN TFT screens.

It’s important to note, that IPS TFT screens offer a much brighter image from wide viewing angles, the drawback is that IPS panels don’t have the quick refresh rates offered by TN TFT screens.  Therefore, when watching high action movies or playing highly active video games, it’s possible you’ll see a slight lag effect sometimes called ghosting.  One other drawback with IPS panels is the requirement for more energy use relative to TN panels.

Advantages of TN TFT Screens:

  • Quicker refresh rate
  • Less power consumption

Advantages of IPS TFT Screens:

  • Clearer picture from wider angles
  • Higher contrast with darker blacks

Should you buy a headrest monitor with TN or IPS TFT LCD Screens?

That’s a good question.  While I’m sure you’re wanting me to tell you one way or another, to be honest, the answer isn’t that black and white.

If you KNOW you’ll have little ones in the MIDDLE Seat in the back of your vehicle watching a headrest DVD player on the left or right side, then obviously the IPS panel offers a brighter and clearer picture for the middle seat.  However, because the seat and headrest are typically far enough from each other, most kids sitting in the middle seat won’t notice any quality fade on TN TFT screens simply because they’re not sitting at a wide angle to the screen.  They’re still within the 30 degree angle and so TN screens are still acceptable.

If your kids will be playing a lot of video games or watching movies with a ton of action, then maybe TN TFT screens will offer a slightly better viewing experience due to the faster refresh rates offered by TN screens.  However, as IPS panels continue to improve, so will their refresh rates.  Most people won’t notice the difference in refresh rates from TN to IPS.

Headrest DVD Players with IPS Panel Screens

One of the newest models from the leading headrest monitor company Autotain, the Autotain MEGA, is equipped with the advanced IPS panel.  

- Actual image of the Autotain MEGA from wide angle view showing off the IPS panel capability of viewing from the wide angles without image fade.

We hope this article helps you make a more informed decision on deciding the best headrest monitor for your needs. 

From our family to yours, thanks in advance for choosing OnFair!!


About OnFair

OnFair is the leading online provider and most passionate about offering only the best headrest DVD players on the market.  They work directly with factory engineers to design and develop the most advanced features and capabilities available and then offer them to you in their exclusive AUTOTAIN branded headrest monitor packages.

Because they've been doing this for over 11 years as a family business from Lincoln, Nebraska, some would argue they've earned their PHD in headrest DVD players as it'll be nearly impossible to find anyone more passionate and more experience with the product.

Want to know more about the OnFair story, check it out here.