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Laptops Screens, Glare or Matte? 663

An anonymous reader writes "This weekend I spent half a day surfing the web looking for a new laptop. I just want (to be able to switch to) 1650x1280, or at least ...x1024, and a *non*-Glossy Display . To my surprise I found out that many vendors leave me not that much choice: ...x800, and glossy, i.e., higher-reflective type screens seem to have become the promoted defaults. Should I give up on my non-glossy wishes, or should I start flaming vendors?" I still can't understand the glossy screens. They make my eyes hurt almost immediately in any sort of ambient light, and do nothing in low light. Glossy laptop screens are like TVs on the shelf in the store with their colors all whacked out to look brighter. Once you get them into the real world, you realize that the colors are just wrong.
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Laptops Screens, Glare or Matte?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:54AM (#23063494)
    The ThinkPad T61's still use a non-reflective screen, and are now available in wide screen models.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      My work computer has a glossy screen. I have to put a "roof" on it to block the glare of the flourescent lighting. WORSE: The stupid glossy material was scratched by the company's IT guru, so now all I see is a giant smudge on the bottom 1/8th of the screen --- unusuable.

      I still prefer CRTs. They may be "old fashioned" but at least they were scratch-proof (real glass, not plastic), could be easily cleaned (windex), and made brighter pictures.

      • by eck011219 ( 851729 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @12:15PM (#23064986)
        I had to switch away from CRTs because of eyestrain. The first laptop I had almost immediately stopped the eyestrain problems I'd been having, and going back to the CRT later when I was transferring files brought them back immediately.

        I have a glossy laptop screen now and love it. I haven't noticed any of the "blown out" color people are talking about. The only issue I have is that I have a window behind me, and for a couple hours a day the sun is in the right spot to cause some reflection in the corner of my screen.

        Mostly I just ignore it -- it makes me feel like an ambassador from Slashdot to the outside, sun-drenched world. We takes our self-importance where we can gets it, right?
      • by uncoveror ( 570620 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @03:49PM (#23068374) Homepage
        Glossy screens are among the worst things ever to happen to computing. I can't see what is on them, only reflections of every window, lamp and anything remotely shiny behind me. I have a Lenovo 3000 N100 laptop with one of those damn things, and wish I could find an anti-glare filter to put over it. There are not words strong enough to express how I hate glossy screens that would be acceptable in mixed company. Everything that springs to mind is obscene. Whoever came up with these things should be drawn and quartered.
    • by csimicah ( 592121 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:58AM (#23063612)
      2nding the T61. We have trouble finding high-end laptops that don't come with subwoofers and Splinter Cell stickers; our new T61 fits the bill exactly and has a matte 1920x1200 screen.
      • by Cecil ( 37810 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:23AM (#23064026) Homepage
        I think those are technically T61p's. I just got a fully-loaded T61p with the 15.4" 1920x1200 widescreen a week ago and it is wonderful. I'm loving it so far.

        So I third the T61 recommendation.
      • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:24AM (#23064040) Homepage Journal
        MacBook Pro []. You can even run Windows on it. Doesn't come with Splinter Cell stickers or subwoofers. And they give you the option of glossy or matte.

        I mean, if you're willing to shell out the dough for a T61, you might as well get a MacBook Pro and at least have the option to run MacOS X.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:58AM (#23064686)
          Yeah, but at 6 bits per pixel, you may as well kill yourself.
        • by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @12:06PM (#23064830)
          Man someone suggests a mac gets modded up and a guy pointing out a flaw gets modded down. Of all the groups in /. Mac fangirls are the WORST at following the rules. There is no -1 disagree. I hate how things get slanted since maccies cant follow that.

          That said I find it hilarious that you compared it to the macbook pro. So I think you should really go compare them.

          First thing you will notice is that the most expensive t61 starts at around 900$ cheaper than the cheapest macbook (so its not a viable alternative). Next when you customize the lenovo so that it has the same specs as the macbook you are still 700$ cheaper than the mac. And that comes with vista which you will otherwise have to pay for.
          So please PLEASE at least read the stats and do a quick comparison before you speak. A product being 50% more expensive for the same specs is an EMBARRASSMENT. Don't brag about it.
          This post will get modded flamebait by a horde of angry mac users. Hopefully the message reaches atleast a few people.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @12:37PM (#23065412)
            I'm in total agreement that Mac fans tend to be some of the biggest trolls and jerks around, but I'm not sure how you got your numbers. I followed the links you provided and found the following:

            Entry-level Macbook Pro, all standard options: $1999

            Lenovo with: T8300 CPU, Vista Ultimate (feature-wise, it really is the most comparable to the Macboook since the Macbook ships with iLife '08 included), 2x1 DDR2, 160gb drive (the only 200gb drive on the Lenovo includes encryption and is /way/ more expensive due to that, so I figured I'd leave it off, but this does skew the price a bit more in favor of the Lenovo than a totally true comparison), Integrated Bluetooth, everything else default. Total: $1,621.20 (after $261.80 savings it claims).

            So the actual price difference is closer to 400, or maybe even 300 given the hard drive difference and the fact and the macbook has an integrated webcam which runs another $72 on the lenovo.

            So while there is a price difference and you definitely are paying a premium for the apple, it's not nearly as bad as you suggest.
            • by chiph ( 523845 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @02:14PM (#23067056)
              I went from a Thinkpad p-series to a Mac Book Pro, and am very happy. Mainly because of the performance increase of switching from a heavily-patched 5 year old OS to a new 64-bit Unix-based OS.

              But also, the hardware-software integration is much tighter, even when loading 64-bit Vista on it via Bootcamp. It's been said before: If you want a fast Windows machine, buy a Mac, and they're right.

              The one downside is that you just can't beat the keyboards on the Thinkpad line -- while the MBP has a good one, there's no comparison with the classic IBM/Lenovo keyboard.

              Chip H.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 14, 2008 @01:17PM (#23066088)
            ThinkPad T61 $1700 (vs. $2050 macbook, with only HDD upgrade)

            Vista Ultimate
            2GB RAM
            250GB Drive
            Intel Pro 3945ABG
            Lenovo Webcam

            A $350 difference... but you lose aesthetics (or gain business looks, depending on your POV), lose the integrated webcam, lose multi-touch, lose optical audio in/out, Firewire connectivity, lose MagSafe, and lose DVI out. (Note: I can't find information on the ThinkPad that suggests it has DVI or optical audio).

            Have I missed anything?
          • by InadequateCamel ( 515839 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @02:53PM (#23067642)
            Please don't lump us all in with those drooling troglodytes. Some of us switched platforms for good reasons and are perfectly honest about the flaws inherent to our system. I've convinced many friends/colleagues to switch but I've probably dissuaded just as many because there was no real tangible benefit to their switching.

            There's a lot of Mac hate out there too my friend. It's just that the neophytes who feel morally/socially superior because they have the same white laptop as every other person in the coffeeshop are much louder.

            (Disclaimer: I am writing this on a MacBook at a coffeeshop)

            P.S. If youget modded as flamebait it might have something to do with the "Mac fangirls" tone of your post.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jumpfroggy ( 233605 )
            I actually did the whole T61 vs. MacBook/Macbook Pro thing when I was looking for my laptop a couple months ago. I finally ended up going with the T61, since I couldn't justify the huge price difference (>$1000 difference for similar specs), and the fact that other than the style factor, they seemed equivalent.

            However, I've had my T61 for a couples months now, and I can say that the two computers are not equal at all. The first thing I noticed was the screen; it's horrible. If you compare a matt Macbo
    • by RedHelix ( 882676 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:14AM (#23063874)
      Just wipe it with some isopropyl alcohol, it'll tear the gloss right off. Disclaimer: Don't do this
  • Agreed- glossy sucks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Brandee07 ( 964634 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:54AM (#23063496)
    My newest laptop has a glossy screen for lack of a matte option, and while I don't hate it with a fiery passion, I do prefer the matte screen of my old computer. Unfortunately, Apple only offers matte options on MacBook Pros, and not MacBooks. =(
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I think most of it comes down to screen quality overall. While I prefer a non-glossy screen, I would much rather have a bright, quality glossy screen over a sub-par matte screen. I have two laptops, one glossy one matte and the matte screen has a far superior viewing angle which I enjoy because I use my laptops for watching movies on trips a lot and hate having to adjust the screen angle to see the picture.
      • by rwven ( 663186 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @12:00PM (#23064706)
        I think the thing is, vendors have started using more and more glossy screens because they hide a multitude of sins. You can use a craptacular LCD and have glossy coating on it and it looks halfway decent.

        Look at the latest iMacs as an example of this. Absolutely sub-par screen...and they coat it with glass so it hides how bad it is. It's something like a 400:1 contract ratio screen with many other vices.

        Not picking on apple here (i love macs), but it's just cheaper for companies in general to gloss coat a screen and sell you a lousy LCD.

        Obviously any serious graphic designers aren't going to stand for anything but a matte screen.
  • No doubt this is hugely a matter of personal preference, but after using a glossy screen for 3 years, my preference is definitely for glossy. True, one must get used to positioning the screen to avoid reflections, but this becomes automatic very quickly. The experience of a glossy screen is far easier on my eyes, and the higher contrast feels much more like reading on paper.

    For the record, I'm officially over the hill, and have used glasses all my adult life.
    • by jyoull ( 512280 ) <[jim] [at] []> on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:13AM (#23063854)
      *nod*. I don't wear glasses, and was recently "forced" into a glossy screen because the rest of this laptop was exactly what I wanted. I perceive it as brighter and cleaner than the several non-glossy displays that preceded it. This surprised me as I thought I'd hate it. But on the balance i am not at all unhappy, after an adjustment period of maybe a week or two. For a while I had both laptops and the "old one" seemed dim and less sharp. I agree with posters who have written that reading dark text on white has a sense of "text on paper" on the glossy screen, while the matte screens look like computer displays.

      Hey, anyone remember 16-color EGA? :)

    • by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:32AM (#23064184) Homepage
      Another big usage people are missing (no doubt because it doesn't occur to them/they don't get the opportunity) is working outdoors. It's amazing how thoroughly sunlight *destroys* any visibility on non-reflective screens; it's as if the screen wasn't turned on! Meanwhile, the glossy ones at least retain some visibility.
    • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @12:59PM (#23065796) Homepage Journal
      I think neither, really. I don't like how the rough matte treatment diffuses light, and I don't like how gloss reflects it.

      I really like smooth screens with an anti-glare surface. I see them on camera lenses and some of the better CRTs. Something like it is available as an optional coating on eyeglasses. It's a series of very thin coatings that's about the wavelength of the light, and it gradually steps up the index of refraction so light is more likely to pass through than be reflected. What very little reflection that remains might have a deep green, blue or purple color to it, if you can see it, because only the brightest lights reflect noticeably, even then, only marginally.

      I have not seen this sort of treatment on LCDs until I bought a camcorder last week, the flip-out panel has a treatment that looks like this. So I'm hopeful that the treatment is applied to computer screens soon.
  • Not an issue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:55AM (#23063526)
    I read all the bashing of glossy screens and even started to repeat the propaganda. But in reality, it doesn't matter. The glossy screens tend to have better contrast and be easier on my eyes, and glare isn't an issue in practice. You do tend to notice glare in a store, looking at a big row of laptops, but it's a total non-issue for me.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo ( 153816 )

      I cannot disagree more. The only time the additional glare of the glossy screen will not affect you is if you only use your laptop where there's no light, e.g., in your mom's basement. In fact, ANY time there is ANY light source brighter than the panel at your back, you will have glare. The problem is most serious on LCD displays because they have a limited viewing angle which often coincides with the glare.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        What you're saying is true of a matte screen, but not a glossy one.

        A glossy screen (like a mirror) reflects ambient light directionally, so the glare from a light source will be super-bad if the screen is aligned so that the glare is reflected into the user's eyes, but minimal otherwise. Matte screens reflect as much light but scatter it in all directions, so the worst-case glare is reduced but the best-case glare (in any particular environment) is increased.

        The matte screen also (to some degree) scatters
  • Insist on non-glare (Score:3, Informative)

    by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:55AM (#23063530)
    Glare-type displays have better colors unter some conditions (dark environment), but will often be pretty bad. Their primary advantage is that they are cheaper to manufacture.

    For the resolution, don't get something below your standards. If the product you want is really not available, then refuse to buy.
  • by Piata ( 927858 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:55AM (#23063536)

    I have a glossy laptop and a matte LCD. The problem with the matte screen is it can make things appear grainy.

    The glossy screen has a much sharper image but the reflections are annoying.

    That said, bad colour exists in both desktop LCD's and laptops. The only real deterrent for this is to spend a lot of money to get a colour accurate display.

  • HP (Score:2, Informative)

    by herbapet ( 142484 )
    The HP pro series, business lvl, has matte screens. That's what im using.
  • I feel your pain (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:55AM (#23063546)

    Even flat panel displays for desktops are jumping on the glossy bandwagon. I suspect it's because glossy models sell better. People see them on the shelves, "oooooh, shiny!" and buy them without regard for actual useability.

    I could be wrong, but I believe Thinkpads are still mostly, if not all, matte screns.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rnelsonee ( 98732 )
      Glossy screens like mine (or any TruLife, XBRITE, UltraBright, Brightview, etc.) have sharper images, more contrast, and a wider viewing angle than a typical matte screen. Sounds pretty usable to me.

      Look, the same light hits the screen no matter what type of screen it is, and some of that is going to get reflected back. The light can be diffused before it's bounced back, which means at any one point, you see less light from the object behind/above you, but you also see reflections from all over the room

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by node 3 ( 115640 )

      I suspect it's because glossy models sell better. People see them on the shelves, "oooooh, shiny!" and buy them without regard for actual useability.
      They sell better because they look better? Oh, the injustice of it all!
  • Toshiba M70 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rik Sweeney ( 471717 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:56AM (#23063558) Homepage
    My Toshiba M70 is ridiculously glarey (if there is such a word). On some web pages I have to tilt the screen back and forth until I find an angle that I can read the text at, otherwise everything's way too light.

    Now that I know I'll be avoiding any laptop with a screen that might be too shiny...
  • I like glossy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by erinacht ( 592019 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:56AM (#23063560) Homepage
    not much help to you, but I find the glossy screen on my MBP to be superior to it's non glossy counterpart. The only real problem I experience is fingermarks being tricky to simply rub off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SpryGuy ( 206254 )
      Get a micro-fiber cloth. It cleans the screens quickly and easily, without requiring any cleaning agent.

      Heck, I picked one up at the grocery store for cheap, and it works perfectly.
  • Get a MacBook Pro (Score:3, Informative)

    by cjsnell ( 5825 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:56AM (#23063564) Journal
    Available in non-glossy by order. Some Apple stores may even stock the non-glossy versions.
  • Who is going to argue with that? Just buy your machine from a trustworthy manufacturer, i.e. IBM/Lenovo. :]
  • Nearly every vendor offers some laptop models that have a non-reflective screen. Unfortunately you haven't given us much else to go on other than a couple of desired resolutions and non-glossy screens. First question is what is your budget? How high are you willing to go, since most of the non-glossy options are towards the higher end of the model ranges (i.e., professional-use machines). Also, do you have any other specific requirements? Non-integrated graphics? Processor type/speed?
  • by LehiNephi ( 695428 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:57AM (#23063594) Journal
    I'm a little ambivalent about the glossy vs matte issue, but I have a bigger issue with notebook screens: It's either very hard or relatively expensive to get a laptop with a 4:3 aspect ratio screen. Widescreens are good for two things: movies and (some) games. They're no good for web browsing or viewing documents. Anything less than 1920x1200 is too narrow to fit two windows comfortably side-by-side, and you sacrifice vertical resolution to get the widescreen.

    Unfortunately, it seems that the manufacturers have decided that normal-aspect-ratio screens, along with docking connectors, Windows XP, and optical drive slots that can take a secondary battery, are a feature that only business users might need. Accordingly, those features are only available on the drastically-more-expensive business market laptops.
    • by brunes69 ( 86786 )

      Anything less than 1920x1200 is too narrow to fit two windows comfortably side-by-side, and you sacrifice vertical resolution to get the widescreen.

      Er... so get a 1920x1200 laptop then?

      Both my current and previous Dells (D600 and D820) have been 1920x1200.

    • by dfghjk ( 711126 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:33AM (#23064196)
      "...and you sacrifice vertical resolution to get the widescreen."

      No you don't. A widescreen is created by taking a normal screen and adding width to it. A 4:3 version of that 1920x1200 screen you refer to is 1600x1200. There's no loss in vertical resolution at all.

      If you are comparing diagonal screen size then that's a different matter, but it's your failure to understand what's going on that's the problem. Widescreens do not inherently sacrifice vertical resolution.
      • by nmg196 ( 184961 ) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:51AM (#23064536)
        > A widescreen is created by taking a normal screen and adding width to it.
        > A 4:3 version of that 1920x1200 screen you refer to is 1600x1200.

        No no NO! - Look at the prices. At any given price point, you get LESS screen area for your money with widescreen monitors:

        Instead of 1280x960, you typically only get 1280x800 on a similarly priced wide-screen. Your screen is about the same width but you've lost an inch or two of vertical space! On laptops, this is even worse because it means you get black plastic strips where you would previously have had ACTUAL screen area. If they're going to be black bars when playing movies, I would far rather they were virtual black bars that were ONLY there when viewing movies, rather than physical plastic bars caused by the fact that they've shrunk the screen vertically to make the laptop look more modern! The Dell XPS series is a good example of this. A 4:3 screen would have fitted perfectly, but instead I've got two one inch black strips glued on where my screen should be.
  • Apple (Score:3, Informative)

    by Telvin_3d ( 855514 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:58AM (#23063600)
    Well, for what it is worth, the MacBook Pro line of Apple laptops have the free choice of glossy or matte displays. Not sure if that would be your cup of tea, but at least one vendor is giving the option.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by bugnuts ( 94678 )
      That is exactly what I came here to post. Here's a link to the specs. []

      It's only available on the macbook pro, but that's what the OP would need anyway, because of the screen size.

      I remember when my gf (no, really) called me from Apple to ask which screen to get and I insisted on the matte... she apparently had to hassle the "genius" there because she had already picked one out that included a glossy screen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by digerata ( 516939 )
      While I am now a Macbook Pro user, I came from Dell laptops and Dell also offers the option of matte or glossy. So I don't really think there is a problem here. Does anyone actually buy anything other than Dell or Apple? ;)
  • by eebra82 ( 907996 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @10:58AM (#23063620) Homepage
    Glossy screens look more attractive when sold in stores. I guess that's why so many manufacturers choose such screens over matte screens, simply because presentations look better. Furthermore, black looks better on glossy screens, which seems to be a huge selling-point with both TV sets and monitors nowadays.
    • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:19AM (#23063942)
      > Furthermore, black looks better on glossy screens I've heard this before (and not just on this topic). However I just can't bring myself to beleive it. For example, given that most people use their screens in normal ambient light (OK some gamers/video enthusiasts may turn the lights out, but most people don't - it's ones like ME I interested in). That means you always have reflections bouncing around. When you have a totally black screen, all you see are the reflections, not the "blackness".

      I did an experiment a while back and used the exposure meter on my DSLR to measure the difference in contrast between a normal picture and a "black" on a glossy screen. I got a contrast ratio of 80:1

      To put this on context, I was looking at LCD TVs claiming contrast ratios of well over 1000:1 - absolutely no way, in a normally lit room. Even 80:1 means that you don't get the full dynamic range of an 8-bit display and I blame a large part of this crappy contrast ratio on the reflections from the glossy screen.

  • Glaring mis-design (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DanQuixote ( 945427 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:00AM (#23063644)

    I bought a used big-screen last year. I quite liked it except for the glare.

    After a while I found a local plastics shop that could sell me a large enough sheet of the anti-reflective stuff used in framing. And I mounted it to the front of the TV myself. That completely solved the problem.

    You might be able to buy the laptop with all the other features you want, then go to your nearest framing shop and get their nice anti-glare "glass", and mount it to your display.

  • I couldn't agree more, and I didn't know that there were so many people that hate the glossy-display. I cannot stand it, it causes more glare than it reduces and matte is just a natural looking display.

    I ordered my laptop from Dell a few months before several of my friends ordered. Sometime in the spring of 2006, Dell decided to switch all over standardly to their "TrueLife" display. Thankfully I missed it.....but now it's very hard to find a cheap laptop without the new anti-glare shine.

  • Sometimes I find it relaxing to use my laptop on the back deck, however, if it's really sunny, I have to struggle with the screen because pretty much all I can see is myself in the extremely glossy toshiba screen. I'm not sure if the matte screens are any better, but in reality laptops probably aren't designed for bright outside use. The glossy screens remind me of the tube tvs, where if there was a window in the room, you lost part of your screen to glare. Much the same here. On the bright side, someti
  • by taharvey ( 625577 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:02AM (#23063680)
    If you use a glossy screen, you will realize that it is superior in most cases.

    With a matte screen, light from any vector to the user will create glare. WIth a Glossy screen, only light vector opposite to the user will create a reflection.

    Glossy screens have much higher contrast and brightness, meaning you are much more likely to see them in poor lighting conditions, and at least you have the choice to orient your screen so you don't have reflections. With a matte screen, no matter what you do, you will have glare - eating into your already reduced contrast and brightness.
    • Try an experiment (Score:5, Interesting)

      by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:30AM (#23064142)
      > Glossy screens have much higher contrast and brightness

      Get your digital camera and put it on auto-exposure. Position it so the image from your screen completely fills the camera's view (kinda difficult on a 16:9 screen, but do your best). Display what you reckon to be a "normally" bright image on the screen.

      Now measure the exposure time from your camera's light-meter.

      Turn the screen off, place the camera in the same position as before and check the readings from the camera's auto-exposure display.

      When I did this, the difference between my normally bright, ambient light image from the display and the light reflected off the display when it was turned off gave me a contrast ratio of 80 to 1

      This value doesn't even give you the full dynamic range from an 8-bit display (255 to 1), let alone the 1000+++ to 1 that LCD TV manufacturers claim. On my glossy screen I could see distinct reflections through the viewfinder and these are what gave the laughably bad contrast ratio. I'll never beleive manufacturers specifications again, and I'll never, never buy another glossy screen.

      Try this yourself, and see what results you get!

      • Re:Try an experiment (Score:4, Informative)

        by hankwang ( 413283 ) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @12:01PM (#23064732) Homepage

        Get your digital camera

        I have a website where you can upload your screen images and have it calculate with higher accuracy what the contrast ratio is: []. I tried this myself with dozens of screens (in a dark environment), and nearly all recent laptop screens have a contrast ratio of around 1:100 - 1:150 in a dark environment, a bit dependent on the viewing angle. Glossy or matte doesn't matter. I didn't check the effect of ambient light on the contrast ratio.

        This value doesn't even give you the full dynamic range from an 8-bit display (255 to 1),

        It doesn't work like that; the standard sRGB brightness-versus-pixel value response curve of a standard computer monitor means that officially, the brightness ratio between 1 and 255 "should" be more like 3000:1.

        let alone the 1000+++ to 1 that LCD TV manufacturers claim.

        I don't have much experience with LCD TVs, but if they are based on the same LCD panels as monitors (likely the case up to 24 inch), you won't get much better than about 800:1, unless the TV dims the backlight during dark scenes.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SEMW ( 967629 )
        The manufacturer quoted contrast ratio will be measured in a completely dark environment. The point is to measure the ratio of light emitted from a while pixel to a black pixel; not the amount of ambient light around the measuring equipment.
  • by Ohio Calvinist ( 895750 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:02AM (#23063684)
    I bought my MacBook Pro about 7 months ago, and when I did, the clerk asked me which I wanted, saying they had every configuration in that line with either option (though the store was sold out of glossy in the 15' 2GB/2.8GHz model at the time of purchases, which was OK since I wanted non-glossy.)

    I never really thought about it, but they said that glossy is popular for folks watching a lot of movies or gaming (I know I'm going to get some replys for insinuating that one can game on a Mac... ;)) on the device. The clerk said that for word processing, internet, and design work that most folks prefer the non-glossy one as the color can be misleading. I don't know if that is true (or why/why not), but sounds belivable.
    When I have spec'd Dell or HP for work, I've found that usually you have to search for non-glossy ones, and it is usually a seperate model number, not a selectable line-item option on a machine. I usually had to select the box I wanted based on the machine size/style/monitor, then customize the internal specs like CPU, RAM, disk.
    The Apple method (machine, then monitor) made more sense to me, but it isn't exactly a direct comparison to evaluate a retail and online experience.
  • by The Assistant ( 1162547 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:04AM (#23063722)
    Glossy is better for looking at scantily clad ladies. Makes them look like they do in them thar magazines!!!!! :)
  • by wodgy7 ( 850851 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:06AM (#23063748)
    This page has some good diagrams explaining what happens to light in "matte" (anti-glare) versus "glossy" (anti-reflective) screens: []

    With matte screens, emitted light is more diffuse, a disadvantage (less color accuracy, potentially more long-term eyestrain). With glossy screens on the other hand, you have the disadvantage of specular reflections, which some people may find distracting. At any rate, the conventional wisdom that glossy screens are just a fancy way to sell computers to unwitting masses is uninformed. There are engineering tradeoffs both ways. I personally find the diffuse light transmission of matte screens more tiring than specular reflections, but it obviously depends on the person.

  • by SpryGuy ( 206254 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:10AM (#23063804)
    My laptop has one (I had to choose it as an option), and it gives much richer colors and blacker blacks, and I don't have any problem reading it in any light at all. I'm not sure what problem people have with glossy screens, but I go out of my way to get them. When I got a wide-screen HD TV, I got one with a glossy screen (and got a huge boost in contrast by doing so at no extra cost).

    Maybe it takes some getting used to, and maybe there are some lighting situations that cause issues that I just never seem to run across, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Just my two cents.
  • Matte is better. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MaWeiTao ( 908546 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:24AM (#23064038)
    I've been told that the glossy screens are appealing to companies because they make for a more eye-catching presentation in stores. They tend to make colors appear more vibrant; I'm not sure why, and I guess most people are impressed by shiny things.

    I personally don't like them. I have one of the current iMacs at work with the glass screen. I happen to be sitting in a spot where reflection and clare is minimal, but even then I can see reflections of things around me in the screen.

    I have matte LCD screens at home which I much prefer. Obviously those have no issue with glare. And if I were to get a laptop no way in hell would I get one with a glossy screen. Given that they might be used anywhere it's going to be inevitable that there will be issues with glare.
  • Dell Latitudes (Score:5, Informative)

    by cyanics ( 168644 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:28AM (#23064110) Homepage Journal
    I have both a Dell d830 and d620 which have non-reflective screens. The D830's native resolution is 1920x1200. I think you haven't been looking around enough, there are plenty of options. However, you typically have to look towards the business-class models for non-reflective (corporate cubical farm) models.
  • by techdavis ( 939834 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:33AM (#23064192)
    I work at a WISP, and do a lot of field service on wireless bridges, at tower sites and on customer rooftops. I find the glossy screens all but useless. I need to throw a jacket over my head and the screen to use it. Totally useless in sunlight of any type - and I know I am not alone in needing a laptop outdoors and on the road. Give me a matte screen any day!
  • Sorry Sucker!!!!!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thogard ( 43403 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @11:39AM (#23064304) Homepage
    It turns out that most laptop demos to major fortune 500 companies don't involve the laptop being on.
    So stupid execs decide and shiny wins.

    So I'm guessing a class action suit involving anyone who wears glasses is about 3 years off.
  • by Wolfier ( 94144 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @01:52PM (#23066706)
    You can turn a glossy screen into matte by applying a $0.5 protective film.

    You cannot turn a matte screen into a glossy screen without replacing the entire screen.

    If laptop manufacturers start to ship matte protective films with their machines it'd be perfect. But it's not like I cannot go get one for less than $2.
  • by Skapare ( 16644 ) on Monday April 14, 2008 @02:42PM (#23067450) Homepage

    The grid of all those tiny little liquid crystal cells is where you need to focus to see the image clearly. In addition to that, you need some kind of cover over those cells to protect them. Thinner covers provide less protection than thicker covers. When the cover has a matte surface, a thicker cover increases the fuzziness caused by the matte surface. So a tradeoff is between fuzziness vs. physical protection. The glossy surface avoids the fuzziness and allows the eye to focus below the cover surface, right where the cells are. Glossy avoids that fuzziness vs. physical protection issue and allows a thicker cover to provide better protection.

    Glossy also works better in higher ambient light levels, except for the few cases where the reflection angle is at its worst.

    A laptop screen needs more physical protection than a desktop monitor screen. That favors choosing thicker glossy for the laptop when thin matte would otherwise be preferred for the desktop.

    A laptop is easier to move to a less problematic light environment than a desktop. That favors matte for the desktop when glossy would otherwise be usable.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde