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Glossy vs Matte Screens

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
O.K. people. I searched for reviews on the glossy screen issues. It seems that most people that respond do not own one. They are also comparing them to PC glossy screens that are pitiful at best. My interest is not in the macbook's screen, but rather in the 17" pro version. I own a world class audio and video studio. It is more important to me that it better represents a true to life color, rather than "cool looking" or exaggerated colors. Many of the people that have seen them in person and have given their opinion on these screens have seen them in a "Worst case scenario". In retail stores, the lighting is so, that everything looks bright and sparkly. Just look in a diamond or jewelry store sometime. Even the $69.00 diamond chip pendant looks like a million bucks. The glare and reflections are at their absolute worst. In the field of Graphics, Photography, and HD video, you would never have florescent lighting to determine any color or contrast editing. It produces the wrong color of light. I have now had the opportunity to own two fully loaded 17" mackbook pros, one with a matte screen, and one with a glossy screen, and here is my assessment:
The matte finish:
When I first got my 17" #1, this is what it came with. There was no choice yet. But upon using it for the first few minutes, I did notice a drastic difference in the contrast ratio from my last 17" powerbook. The screen was a bit brighter, but it almost seemed that the "Brightness" was turned up. I compared the two side by side. The colors were about the same, but the brighter screen on the intel version made them even nicer. The blacks looked pretty good on the Macbook pro, but were not as rich as on the Powerbook. Using the infamous "Look at it with the screen off" technique, I noticed that the Mackbook Pro's screen was frosty and had a green tint to it. On the Powerbook, the screen was deep black.
Although the Mackbook Pro had many "Pros" vs the Powerbook, I did feel that the screen was better suited for those working in glare conditions. Even more so than it's predecessor the Powerbook. A definite improvement in that situation. But for Video and such, I found it to be almost unusable for my type of work. But I must say, I would have adapted, and just compensated for the differences between what was "True" and what I was seeing on the Mackbook Pro.
The Glossy screen:
Since my main use was to be DVD and Film and Video, as well as Photos and graphic design, I ordered another, this time with the Glossy screen. I must admit, i was skeptical about this decision, but figured that I had the matte finish if it was not going to work.
First of all, the glare is absolutely not an issue, even outdoors where I do use it quite frequently. The brightness of the screen overpowers any thought of interfering with your view. And I am one, that when you can refocus your eyes, and see the lights or objects around you, that seriously bothers me.
The colors seemed to look about the same, but the contrast ratio was noticeably better. As well as the video black shots or letterbox bars on the screen. This was defiantly the choice for my work. But the real decision came when I saw how well the work that I had done, translated to other sets, projectors, and film. This was all very acceptable and a far better improvement to the matte finish, that made you want to overcompensate to achieve the same results in blacks. I also had a chance to compare the Glossy screen to that of a Glossy screen on my employee's new HP laptop. When I had grilled him on whether or not he had reflection issues with his, he said it never even bothered him. But upon comparing the two side by side, there was a noticeable quality difference. The mac was about 75% less reflective. I would not have found his to be useable at all. The image was much brighter and sharper on the Mackbook pro. Also, on the HP, the colors seemed to be exaggerated and over-saturated. Again this would not have ever worked for me.
Summary:
Both screens are good. Apple is not making a bad screen. I would have been happy with either, but since the choice is here, the glossy worked best for me. Glare was never an issue on the Mackbook Pro as some are making it out to be. If Video is not your primary use of this computer, and you are in extreme lighting situations all of the time at work, then the matte is a good choice. I had trusted Apple when I ordered the Glossy, because I do not live close enough to an Apple store to have seen one for myself. I figured that time and time again they have proven to me that their quality and design are always quite a bit more impressive than others. Time and time again, I have gained the envy of PC users when they have seen my previous Mac portable screens, and immediately noticed how much sharper, and brighter and better they looked than theirs. What they did with their version of a glossy screen was no different this time around. They did not merely grab from HP's or Dell's supply chain and put it the Macs.8)
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post #2 of 20
Thanks for this detailed review. It has helped allay some of my last reservations of buying a MacBook soon.
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post #3 of 20
Thanks for the review. I am planning on buying one and i have only seen it in stores and still liked it.

I read somewhere that apple was waiting to switch because the quality was bad but when good ones came out, they did the switch.
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post #4 of 20
If any of you guys are concerned about the glossy displays you should check out the latest TUAW podcast. They put that worry to bed!
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post #5 of 20
Great review!!

As a happy MacBook owner I agree with everything you say I've been using this screen for over a week and its fantastic, I have not had any problems being able to see the screen clearly

Again great review
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post #6 of 20
i've only had one 'incident' where my screen was a little hard to read and that was at the local coffee shop and the sun was coming up and shining directly through the window. Even then it wasn't too bad. It just looks fabulous.
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post #7 of 20
Shortly after I bought my MacBook, I had the opinion that the screen was so bright compared to my previous 'book, the glare wasn't an issue. Now that I've used it more, particularly when sitting next to a window, I've decided the glare can be pretty annoying. I see reflections of my face and my shirt (if it's a light colored shirt). Given a choice, I'd go for the non-gloss. Unfortunatly MacBook buyers don't have that choice.
post #8 of 20
I've been going back and forth on this issue. I'd get a MacBook Pro so I'd have the option. Since I'm not a designer and the unit isn't over-the-top glossy I'd consider it, but I'm a programmer so I don't know if I'd want to BBEdit with it for long periods of time.

That said, I use desktops at home and at the office, so perhaps a glossy MacBook Pro will be good for the times I use it. I didn't hate the MacBook's I played with at the Apple Store.
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post #9 of 20
I'd imagine they went with glossy for the MB because it's cheaper...
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post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by slughead
I'd imagine they went with glossy for the MB because it's cheaper...

I don't believe that that is the reason. The success of the "Shiny" ipods, and nanos is a very appealing look. When a consumer is walking by the computer displays, their eye is caught on the "Shiny" sharp, rich look that the glossy screen has to offer. By contrast, it makes the matte finish look dull and unexciting. As a similar analogy, speaker companies have used a similar tactic. When choosing a speaker at an electronics store, one switches from speaker set to speaker set. The manufacturers will make some speakers with exaggerated high end, or exaggerated low end, but when switching back to the speaker set that has a more "True" sound, it will appear dull and uninteresting. This appeal is what gives the mac another "cool" entity in its line up. They took the time to make the glossy not just cool, but very useable, unlike the PC market. I believe that it is not cheaper, but it is cheaper NOT to have too many choices on the models. This allows a heftier inventory, keeps the cost of manufacturing and suppliers down and prevents retailers from not moving one sku more than another (As with the old colored imacs and ibooks). With the significant improvements Apple made to the glossy screen concept, and needing to choose only one, I believe the choice was simple.
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post #11 of 20
So based on that analogy, MacBook buyers are dumb consumers who buy shiny things. MacBook Pro buyers must be wiser and more discriminating since Apple has given them a choice.
post #12 of 20
The glossy screen offers very accurate color. The black level in normal light is stronger, which is part of what renders the screen so 'bold' looking.

Glossy coating does NOT 'change' the color somehow. What it does is allow the light from the LCD panel to travel through without being dispersed and blurred by an anti-glare coating.
post #13 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by iDave
So based on that analogy, MacBook buyers are dumb consumers who buy shiny things. MacBook Pro buyers must be wiser and more discriminating since Apple has given them a choice.

Would you like that in aluminum or alumninum?
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post #14 of 20
Quote:
Glossy coating does NOT 'change' the color somehow. What it does is allow the light from the LCD panel to travel through without being dispersed and blurred by an anti-glare coating.

The problem for people where color is important is that any glare corrupts interpretation of the image.

I agree though the Macbook glossy screen is better than most PC screens. I played trailers from Apple.com with lots of blacks and pointed the screen at lights and the outdoor window. Of course a bright soft source like the sky will produce more glare, but under normal viewing circumstances wasn't bad at all.
post #15 of 20
I love the glossy screen of my MacBook!
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by TenoBell
The problem for people where color is important is that any glare corrupts interpretation of the image.

I agree though the Macbook glossy screen is better than most PC screens. I played trailers from Apple.com with lots of blacks and pointed the screen at lights and the outdoor window. Of course a bright soft source like the sky will produce more glare, but under normal viewing circumstances wasn't bad at all.

The ONLY time you'll see significant glare on these machines is when you have very strong back or angular light. Most of the time people working with detailed color will (should?) work from an area with controlled lighting. And I mean, be honest, a matte screen that washes out in strong light can't be that much better than a glossy that generates reflection. Choose your poison.

I do not like PC glossies, but I've become rather fond of the MacBook's. I'm using it in a sunlit living room right now and there's not even the least hint that it IS a glossy screen. No reflections at all. Better than my CRT upstairs.
post #17 of 20
I'm entertained by the number of people who are defending glossy displays now that Apple has adopted them. Before Apple adopted glossy screens, Mac aficionados ridiculed glossy PCs.

There is glare! If you think there's not, you're deluding yourself. Whether or not you can live with the glare for the perceived benefit of increased contrast and color saturation is a personal choice; a choice I wish I could have made when I bought my MacBook. Sadly I had none.

With the heat and the glare of this MacBook, I'll eventually replace it with something else. Hopefully it'll be a future cool, non-glare portable from Apple. Otherwise I might just go back to a G3 iBook. Can you tell I'm beginning to regret my purchase?
post #18 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by iDave
I'm entertained by the number of people who are defending glossy displays now that Apple has adopted them. Before Apple adopted glossy screens, Mac aficionados ridiculed glossy PCs.

There is glare! If you think there's not, you're deluding yourself. Whether or not you can live with the glare for the perceived benefit of increased contrast and color saturation is a personal choice; a choice I wish I could have made when I bought my MacBook. Sadly I had none.

With the heat and the glare of this MacBook, I'll eventually replace it with something else. Hopefully it'll be a future cool, non-glare portable from Apple. Otherwise I might just go back to a G3 iBook. Can you tell I'm beginning to regret my purchase?

I think you're assuming too much. I've used PCs for years, and this is the first Mac I've had to myself since the Quadra 660av. It's been widely remarked that Apple's glossy is superior to its PC counterparts in terms of reduced reflectivity, and it's true. It's also true that, as glossy as it may be, it's does NOT produce as much glare as a CRT.

I'm not saying that there are no faults with it, just that the noise people are causing about it is disproportional to the problem.

I won't presume to draw conclusions on your behalf if you do the same. =)
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally posted by gloss
I won't presume to draw conclusions on your behalf if you do the same. =)

Nothing personal was intended. I said "the number of people." It may be true that Apple's chosen display is somewhat better than some PC displays. I've used my boss' Sony Vaio and would consider it about the same as my MacBook, pretty glaring.

I'm just disappointed. I waited a long time to replace my G3 iBook because I wanted a much brighter display. Now that MacBooks are nice and bright, they're also glossy. For me, it's an unfortunate turn of events. When I use mine in the evening, it's alright. During the day when the room is bright, I don't like it and would much rather have non-glare.

Perhaps one day soon, advances will be made in non-glare displays and we can have the best of both worlds.
post #20 of 20
Fair enough, fair enough. Sorry for misinterpreting.
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