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Apple quietly switches iPod nano 5G screens to TFT

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Thursday, September 10, 2009
News Categories: iPod nano

Quietly mentioned in Apple’s tech specs for the fifth-generation iPod nano is the fact that the new models use a TFT (thin film transistor) display as opposed to the standard LCD used in past models. TFT displays are a different variant on LCD technology, that can under some circumstances improve or decrease image quality; Wikipedia notes that depending on the type of TFT screen technology chosen, viewing angles and colors can be mediocre—a problem with early technology—or dramatically more impressive, with high contrast ratios, strong black depth, and faster refresh rates. By comparison, Apple lists the display in the fourth-generation iPod nano as a color LCD with LED backlight. It is unclear what, if any, affect the change in screen technologies will have on the quality of the iPod nano’s screen.

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TFT is a type of LCD display, not a different technology- I’d be surprised if the older generations didn’t use one as well. TFT is also the best type of display, what we used to call “active matrix”.  The only other display used in these portable devices is OLED and those are newer and mroe expensive.

Posted by Nick on September 10, 2009 at 11:06 AM (PDT)


As the article said, “TFT displays are a different variant on LCD technology.” Apple’s tech specs pages are specifically calling out the new iPod nano’s displays as TFT, by comparison with the iPod classic, listed as “2.5-inch (diagonal) color LCD with LED backlight,” and the prior iPod nano, which was listed as “2-inch (diagonal) color LCD with LED backlight.”

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on September 10, 2009 at 11:20 AM (PDT)


As far as I can tell, all active matrix LCD displays are TFT, and the backlight technology is indpendent of the display technology.  While there is a difference between the different types of TFT technology (S-IPS, PVA, etc), and LED vs CCFL backlighting, the best color LCD’s are always TFT.  Passive matrix color displays fell out of favor long ago- I’m not sure it’s even possible to get a color display that isn’t TFT.  So I think you guys are reading too deeply into the announcement.

Posted by Nick on September 12, 2009 at 12:24 PM (PDT)


The screen is different. It’s brighter and now dithers more. Read the review for the details.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on September 12, 2009 at 2:01 PM (PDT)


Sure.  It’s clearly a different display, the resolution has changed.  I’m just saying that it’s not because it’s a TFT display.  The old one was TFT also.

Posted by Nick on September 13, 2009 at 1:28 PM (PDT)

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