The twisted nematic liquid crystal display (TN-LCD) is the leading technology for high performance flat panel displays. However, the region of high contrast for TN-LCD's is limited. Birefringent elements, of compensators, may be used to provide improved contrast at high viewing angles. The phenomenon of form birefringence has been used to design a compensator that can be fabricated by physical vapor deposition of silica and titania, two common coating materials. Improved viewing angle characteristics, particularly in the horizontal direction, have been demonstrated using the compensator. The 20:1 isocontrast region has been extended to +/- 50 degree(s) in displays incorporating the compensator, an improvement of 10 degree(s) or more relative to uncompensated displays. The compensator design includes integrated antireflection coatings to reduce glare. In this way, display legibility is maximized in the presence of both high and low ambient illumination.© (1994) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.