Matte iMac

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited January 2014
I've been looking into a good method to convert an iMac to a matte display.



First thing I have been looking at is simply applying a film to the iMac's outer glass, and I found several severe problems with this. The biggest problem is that the glass is too far from the panel to maintain a clear image when the film is applied. This results in a loss of focus. Another affect this causes is speckling, where the different colors of light end up being separated into little... umm specks. Matte projection TV's usually suffer from this.



I've been studying the build of a few different LCD displays I have lying around and I have some interesting observations about them.



Fist thing I immediately noticed was, that on all these displays the matte finish was simply a thin film applied directly to the glass. The film could be removed (not easily), thus making the display glossy. I'm guessing the matte finish is designed to protect the display and reinforce the glass. They use some very strong adhesive so I wouldn't recommend trying to remove it.



I'm guessing glossy displays also have a thin layer of film on them for reinforcement. Has anyone pulled the glass off their iMac and had a good look? I'm wondering if there is something on the glass. If not, maybe giving it a high quality matte finish would be fairly simple. Then the only hurdle would be replacing the glass bezel with something.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 69
    bdblackbdblack Posts: 146member
    Here is an example where I applied a matte film to a glossy display, directly onto the LCD panel itself. This is a 10 inch TN panel. Notice there is no loss of focus (this film has no adhesive backing so on some spots its a little blurry where its not contacting the glass)











    This is the iMac... very blurry with the film



  • Reply 2 of 69
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Given that the glass on the iMac can be lifted away from its magnets via the use of suction cups, might it be possible to apply a film to the back of the glass, putting it nearly in the same plane as the LCD panel itself and decreasing the blurriness?



    Excellent research/experimentation, by the way, very much appreciated.
  • Reply 3 of 69
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,232moderator
    Removing the glass should go a long way to fixing the glare:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy0o2WdrN3M



    You can see the difference immediately when it's removed and you can see the glare on the glass panel itself separate from the iMac. Ideally, a 3rd party manufacturer would just make a plastic sheet or something with a magnetic border to protect the screen.



    You can probably make one yourself.



    You can get cheap suction cups on eBay to remove the glass if you don't have one.
  • Reply 4 of 69
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    Removing the glass should go a long way to fixing the glare:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cy0o2WdrN3M



    You can see the difference immediately when it's removed and you can see the glare on the glass panel itself separate from the iMac. Ideally, a 3rd party manufacturer would just make a plastic sheet or something with a magnetic border to protect the screen.



    You can probably make one yourself.



    You can get cheap suction cups on eBay to remove the glass if you don't have one.



    Cool video. That's the '07 iMac, seems like I recall from the iFixit tear down (of the 27", at least) that they declared the LCD panel itself to be "very glossy" ("It's great for spying on those behind you, as well as watching movies").



    Hard to tell from the accompanying picture just how glossy that is:



  • Reply 5 of 69
    bdblackbdblack Posts: 146member
    I suspect that the thickness of the film itself is actually a factor in the quality of the picture. Thats why I'm curious to find out if the H-IPS panel in the aluminum iMac has a protective gloss coating or not. If someone has pulled the glass off their iMac and taken a close look at the frame around the LCD they might be able to see the edges of the film.



    If the glass of the LCD is fully exposed, then its really easy to just stick some matte film on there. If there is a coating then it would depend on the thickness of that coating. Even then maybe a high quality film would work.
  • Reply 6 of 69
    bdblackbdblack Posts: 146member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Cool video. That's the '07 iMac, seems like I recall from the iFixit tear down (of the 27", at least) that they declared the LCD panel itself to be "very glossy" ("It's great for spying on those behind you, as well as watching movies").



    Hard to tell from the accompanying picture just how glossy that is:







    Weird, cause that almost looks matte to me. They must have very soft lighting. The panel itself appears to be a fair bit less glossy then the outer glass. I don't see any edges where the film would be on the outside. If only I could get a high res photo.
  • Reply 7 of 69
    addaboxaddabox Posts: 12,660member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BDBLACK View Post


    Weird, cause that almost looks matte to me. the panel itself must be a fair bit less glossy then the outer glass. I don't see any edges where the film would be on the outside. If only I could get a high res photo.



    It does, doesn't it? But of course we don't know how they lit that shot; with the right lights and camera angle you could make the display with the glass still on look matte.
  • Reply 8 of 69
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BDBLACK View Post


    I've been looking into a good method to convert an iMac to a matte display.



    Hello first post here so bare with me. I too am in the "November" queue for a 27" quad core. I'm also a long time, mac based graphic artist so I'm familiar with the glossy or matte conflict.



    It might scare me to attempt this but has anyone else tried to replace the glass with something else. I recently framed an Illustration for a Silent Auction with "Museum Glass". Have you seen this stuff? Its pretty amazing. Surreal almost in that in a room with many bright lights it can look as if there is no glass at all. It makes you want to touch the framed piece because the clarity makes you think there is just no glass. The piece of glass I bought was 18" x 24" for about 50 bucks. It is treated on one side. Hard to tell but you can scratch an edge to see which side is treated. That side would face the art (or LED in this case). Of course I'd imagine it's thinner that the iMac glass so not as durable but I would think this stuff on a designer's iMac would be a dream. Its not "matte" but this stuff seems to all but eliminate glare.



    A little information about how Museum Glass works here: http://www.tru-vue.com/Tru-Vue/Products/33/



    I don't how you'd install this with bezel and other issues but I'd love to see if it would work. Any thoughts?
  • Reply 9 of 69
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pocotequila View Post


    Hello first post here so bare with me. I too am in the "November" queue for a 27" quad core. I'm also a long time, mac based graphic artist so I'm familiar with the glossy or matte conflict.



    It might scare me to attempt this but has anyone else tried to replace the glass with something else. I recently framed an Illustration for a Silent Auction with "Museum Glass". Have you seen this stuff? Its pretty amazing. Surreal almost in that in a room with many bright lights it can look as if there is no glass at all. It makes you want to touch the framed piece because the clarity makes you think there is just no glass. The piece of glass I bought was 18" x 24" for about 50 bucks. It is treated on one side. Hard to tell but you can scratch an edge to see which side is treated. That side would face the art (or LED in this case). Of course I'd imagine it's thinner that the iMac glass so not as durable but I would think this stuff on a designer's iMac would be a dream. Its not "matte" but this stuff seems to all but eliminate glare.



    A little information about how Museum Glass works here: http://www.tru-vue.com/Tru-Vue/Products/33/



    I don't how you'd install this with bezel and other issues but I'd love to see if it would work. Any thoughts?



    Thats a good idea, however I would have to wonder how it would preform over a backlit display. It appears that from its description this glass is designed to protect the material underneath from UV, while preventing reflections from outside light sources. I'd have to wonder what would happen if the light source was behind the glass.



    It appears from the description that both sides are coated, but only one side has a UV coating. Very interesting.



    The other challenge would be figuring out how to cut the glass with curved edges.



    Hey, there's a distributor right in my city.
  • Reply 10 of 69
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,232moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by addabox View Post


    Hard to tell from the accompanying picture just how glossy that is



    It doesn't look that bad when they tilt the display but they will have really diffused studio lighting:







    I've seen pictures of glossy panels on their own and they do have some reflections but most of the glare is from the glass, which is why the anti-glare MBP doesn't have the glass.



    The 2007 model had a glossy panel too. If you look at these images, you can see the reflection in the last image to the right of the panel:



    http://www.kodawarisan.com/imac_2007...07_mid_01.html



    but it doesn't look nearly as bad relative to the top ones with the glass in front. The anti-glare MBP has the glass removed and a coating on the panel, which is the ideal.



    It would be interesting if applying a matte coating to the inside of the glass as you suggested would work. So long as heat inside the machine didn't affect the adhesive.
  • Reply 11 of 69
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    It would be interesting if applying a matte coating to the inside of the glass as you suggested would work. So long as heat inside the machine didn't affect the adhesive.



    I don't think this would be a good idea guys, the point is to reduce reflections coming off of the outside of the glass. All this would do is reduce the picture quality while doing nothing to the reflective surface.
  • Reply 12 of 69
    bdblackbdblack Posts: 146member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    It doesn't look that bad when they tilt the display but they will have really diffused studio lighting:







    I've seen pictures of glossy panels on their own and they do have some reflections but most of the glare is from the glass, which is why the anti-glare MBP doesn't have the glass.



    The 2007 model had a glossy panel too. If you look at these images, you can see the reflection in the last image to the right of the panel:



    http://www.kodawarisan.com/imac_2007...07_mid_01.html



    but it doesn't look nearly as bad relative to the top ones with the glass in front. The anti-glare MBP has the glass removed and a coating on the panel, which is the ideal.



    It would be interesting if applying a matte coating to the inside of the glass as you suggested would work. So long as heat inside the machine didn't affect the adhesive.



    Most of the reflection comes from the outer glass. The inner glass will have some kind of protective coating which will absorb some of the reflection. If you look closely, at an angle at the iMac when its turned off you can see the reflection on the outer glass and reflection off the panel itself kinda like a double image.



    It would be pointless to have a matte display under the glass because you would be combining the disadvantages of matte with the disadvantages of glossy. Thats why my original thoughts were to remove the glass altogether and replace it with some sort of frame, and apply a matte film to the LCD itself. This museum glass looks like another interesting option too.
  • Reply 13 of 69
    vineavinea Posts: 5,585member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by pocotequila View Post


    I don't how you'd install this with bezel and other issues but I'd love to see if it would work. Any thoughts?



    Yes. Contact that company and talk to them about it. In this economy finding a new market is probably not a bad thing even assuming Apple eventually ships a matte version.
  • Reply 14 of 69
    bdblackbdblack Posts: 146member
    Ok, so just pulled my glass and I learned 2 very interesting things.



    1 Removing the glass reduces all reflection by at least %50 ... maybe %65 to %75



    2 The guide pins that are welded to the metal frame that go around the glass break of really easily... That was a good "oh f**k what did I just do" kinda moment :P



    I think its actually a good thing I found this out. It appears they are attached poorly. If I had not removed the glass that metal piece could have fallen into the computer at some point. I think loose metal bits are not good for computers.



    I think having the glass in front of glass doubles the reflection because light refracts off of each, and that combined light doubles the reflection you see. What I'm curious about is if adding anti-reflective glass would help cancel out the reflections underneath. At least I know for a fact it would be a noticeable improvement.
  • Reply 15 of 69
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by vinea View Post


    Yes. Contact that company and talk to them about it. In this economy finding a new market is probably not a bad thing even assuming Apple eventually ships a matte version.



    BDBLACK, you have a good point about the display being backlit so the Museum Glass may not work its magic the same way as its intended use. The obvious first step would be to simply hold the Museum Glass over the display. If it makes a noticeable difference then maybe it would be worth further and more significant efforts. I guess I could run over to the Apple Store and test a piece of the glass this way but alas, I'll probably just wait until (whenever in) November. Hopefully someone else here will beat me to it and have this all figured out by that time.
  • Reply 16 of 69
    here is a pic of the new 27" with the glass removed. Notice the reflection of his hand in lower right corner.



    http://s1.guide-images.ifixit.com/ig...up2klgwp6.huge
  • Reply 17 of 69
    First post here also. I'm working on this problem too for I also will be buying a new 27" iMac and really want to do something about that glossy screen. First off, BDBLACK - since you have the glass off yours already (and I know it one of the older models), but how thick is the glass? Try to be as accurate as possible. Also, BDBLACK - is the black border on the back of your glass just screen printed or painted on or is it a decal of some sort? Now for the magnets, is there anything else on the back of the glass (ie. metal strips. foil, etc.) that the magnets would adhere to? If not, is must be the iron content that is found naturally in the silica they use to make the glass. TruVue Museum Glass only comes in 2.5mm, so I don't think that thickness will work. Most of the non-reflective "Museum Glass" out there is coated on both sides. It is also made with a low iron content because it makes the glass clearer than regular float glass. Crystal clear, but still glossy glass is used many times on higher end aquariums. I think it is sold under the trade name of "Krystal", or something like that. I'm pretty sure Apple would want to use a crystal clear glass for their screens, but who knows when it comes to their bottom line. I'm hoping they do, because then the magnets would adhere to a glass with a lower content of iron. One way to tell is to look at the edge of the glass (greenish is regular float glass, blueish is the low iron "crystal-clear" glass. I have found a source for a thicker non-reflective Museum type glass, from another company. They are sending me a couple of samples in their thicker sizes. They will also cut the glass for me (and finish the edges) if I send them a template. Then all I would have to do is mask-off and paint a black border on the back of the glass. According to the spec. sheet for this glass, the coatings can be painted or screen printed onto. Before I do all this, I will need to try this low iron glass with the magnets to see if they will hold the glass and also lay this glass over a LCD panel to see how it looks.



    On another note, has anyone seen that YouTube video of the guy who takes his iMac glass cover off with a toilet plunger? It's pretty cool, all recorded with the iSight camera on the iMac. Take care!
  • Reply 18 of 69
    The back of the glass has a very thin steel frame around it that the magnets stick to. The black border appears to be painted on. The frame also has guides that center it onto the iMac and keep it from moving around. They look like tiny bullets, and they break off easily. The glass appears to be very thin. I don't think using thicker glass would be an issue.
  • Reply 19 of 69
    BDBLACK - Can you post a pic of the back of your glass (showing the steel frame)? That would be very helpful. Also, can you tell how the thin steel frame is adhered to the glass and if it is adhered onto the painted border. If it is on the black painted border, it is probably held on with a thin strip of 3M VHB (very high bond) double sided adhesive foam. Any other type of glue (ie. industrial super glue) would mess with the painted border and it would show from the front. If it is adhered with foam tape, there are ways to carefully remove the foam strip and all the remaining adhesive from the steel frame. Then, new strips can be added when you want to place the steel frame on the new non-reflective, Museum glass. Once again, can you give me a good approximate of the thickness of your glass. Is it similar to picture framing glass (just under 1/8") or double strength window glass (~5/32") . Thanks for all your help. Take care!



    Jim
  • Reply 20 of 69
    Forget the pic of the back of the glass panel. I found one online, so I have a good idea what I will be dealing with now. I'm pretty sure the metal bezel pieces are held on with industrial double faced tape/film. The trick will be to remove them without bending them. There are ways to do this safely. Removing all the adhesive residue from the metal bezel, attaching new adhesive strips and positioning them onto a new piece of glass will be a piece of cake. Other option would be to just purchase a replacement glass panel and remove the bezel from that one. Good idea if you purchased AppleCare and need to bring your Mac in for service. Just switch panels before you bring it in. Just need some confirmation on the thickness of the glass. Take care!
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