Laptop Screens – Glossy versus Matte

   Posted April 21, 2008 by David Kirk in Technology reviews

My father will soon be purchasing a laptop. Like most people considering buying a new laptop, he will have to decide if he should get a glossy or matte screen. I will discuss and contrast the two screen types and conclude by describing my personal experience with the two types.


The discussions between glossy and matte laptop screens are almost as heated as Apple versus Microsoft and XBox versus PlayStation. Many people considering purchasing a laptop are frustrated by the matter.

Glossy screens have a reflective coating underneath the screen. This reflective nature gives higher degrees of brightness and contrast. Colors really seem to “pop” with glossy screens. However, due to their reflective nature, the view on a glossy screen will frequently be polluted by glare from other light sources.

With matte screens the user can almost visualize darkness between individual white pixels. To many people they perceive this as a “grainy” appearance. Glare is greatly decreased, at the cost of reduction in contrast and brightness. Subtle degrees of saturation are better perceived with the matte screens.

For some people the higher brightness and contrast of the glossy screen actually causes eye strain. Other people find that the lower, diffusing contrast with a matte screen is more likely to cause issues. Improving backlight technology is balancing out the brightness and contrast issues on both sides of the argument.

Complicating the issue more is that fact that some manufacturers are using glossy displays to hide cheaper LCDs. In the right conditions, glossy displays hide many, but not all, weaknesses in substandard LCD screens. This is why many inexpensive laptops now come standard with glossy screens.

In a dark, glare-free room, the glossy screen will look better than the matte screen. However, most people do not always use laptops in ideal conditions. Fingerprints and smudges also show up on glossy screens more than matte.

My first laptop had a matte screen. Back then I am not sure I knew I had an option. For my second lappie, I purchased the glossy screen because the images and video in the demo room looked the best. However, after day-to-day use, I eventually decided that matte was best for me.

I use my laptop everywhere. Frequently this includes bright lighting conditions that cause high glare situations. With my matte screen glare is never an issue. Do glossy screens look better? In perfect conditions they do indeed. However, matte screens offer me much more flexibility. Plus, with my glossy screen I was constantly having to clean it to remove fingerprints and smudges. With the matte they are barely noticeable.

Obviously in the end it is a personal choice. Hopefully this article has helped to express the arguments on both sides.

Good luck with your laptop purchase.

 

About David Kirk

David Kirk is one of the original founders of tech-recipes and is currently serving as editor-in-chief. Not only has he been crafting tutorials for over ten years, but in his other life he also enjoys taking care of critically ill patients as an ICU physician.
View more articles by David Kirk

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