R.I.P. Apple matte screen displays

R.I.P. Apple matte screen displays

Summary: The thing that bums me out the most about yesterday's MacBook announcements is Apple's move to all-glossy displays. I'll make no bones about it – I loathe glossy displays – especially on a notebook computer.


R.I.P. Apple matte screen displays

The thing that bums me out the most about yesterday's MacBook announcements is Apple's move to all-glossy displays. I'll make no bones about it – I loathe glossy displays – especially on a notebook computer.

Apple will spin it that blacks look darker and colors are more saturated, blah, blah, blah. It's a load of garbage. How are we expected to read the screen when the glare is practically blinding? (Don't even get me started on fingerprints).

Notebook computers are designed to be used in different locations, and like you I frequently use my matte-screen MBP outside. The glare from a glossy display (especially on a sunny day or if you're wearing a white shirt) makes the computer more difficult to use outdoors, or even in a car. Apple's choice of fashion over function is completely unacceptable and it needs to offer a matte-screen option if they're going to win me back.

You can see the awful, mirror-like glare for yourself in the new MacBook video that Apple posted (screen shot above). I thought that they'd try to hide it but it's almost like they've gone out of their way to promote the glare on the screen. It's horrible!

I first wrote about my disdain for glossy displays back in January with the announcement of the MacBook Air. What started as an option on the MacBook Pro, became the only choice on the MacBook. Then the iMac. The MacBook Air. Now Apple's gone 100 percent glossy across their entire line (as I warned they would several times): notebooks, desktops and monitors. Bah! If you need a notebook and detest glossy as much as I do, the only remaining options are the leftover white MacBooks for US$999 or the old MBP17.

Related: Does the glossy screen of the new iMac suck? Death to the glossy display!

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Topics: Apple, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

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  • are glossy screens brighter?

    I can't use my MBP (matte screen) outside because I can't make the screen bright enough. I'm curious how bad the glossy screens really are outside.
    • 6 of 1 half a dozen of the other.

      I actually find the ludicrous straw man argument of not
      being able to use a glossy screen outside simply funny
      because I have issues with reading and seeing my matte
      screen outside due to brightness issues, specular
      reflections and increase flare.

      Basically, they both suck eggs when used outside but for different reasons. In general, I find my sisters glossy
      MacBook easier to use outside compared to my MBP Matte.

      So it really is 6 of one and half a dozen of the other. My
      guess is glossy outsells matte by a HUGE margin and this
      is why matte simply is not an option anymore.
  • It sure is spin - and a lot of it!

    "Apple will spin it that blacks look darker and colors are more saturated"

    It sure will - all of the objects in the reflection will have this benefit, making it more difficult to see what's on the screen. This is quite the spin.

    Notebooks should be matte, period. They're supposed to be devices you can take anywhere, including outdoors. There's no reason for this at all.

    For desktop displays, that's fine because indoors has more controlled lighting. But for notebooks, there's no way any of them should be sold with a glossy display.

    They might as well save some money: Take out the LCD and replace with a mirror. Nobody will notice.
    • Matte screens no more readable outside than Glossy.

      At least not in my experience. I find both fail miserably
      outside with a slight edge to glossy.

      Color calibration of Glossy is the single biggest issue with
      them IMO.
    • i dunno

      i've never had a notebook (i've had both matte and glossy, mac and windows) that looked good outside. i concur with the commenter who said they both stink outside.
  • RE: R.I.P. Apple matte screen displays

    Jason, I agree with you. But the culprit may possibly go beyond fashion. I'm wondering if all the whining and blackmail (gee, did I say that?) by Greenpeace about arsenic in LCD displays is forcing companies like Apple to go to glossy displays. Have you looked into this?

    Don't get me wrong - arsenic is not cool. But could it be possible that by going green, we might be going glossy, like it or not?

    My hope is that I'm completely and utterly wrong. Seriously. But I hope too, that Apple and other manufacturers hear us loud and clear, and come up with a solution for matte screens that also is good for the planet.
    • Amen

      Amen to Jason, and good point Mr_Incredible.

      I sometimes use a 3M privacy filter on my MacBook, which
      has both a glossy and matte side. So if you use the matte
      side, you can reduce the glare.

      However, it fits well with my MacBook because the polycarbonate MacBook has a small frame around the
      screen. The privacy filter fits perfectly inside the frame. But
      based on the pictures, it seems like the new MacBook /
      MacBook Pro may have a flush screen - like the aluminum
      iMac. If so, any kind of aftermarket filter will not fit as
    • I just bought a brand new Lenovo X200 with mat

      I can use the thing at medium brightness in a very bright room. I couldn't use the Sony FW that I returned to the store because of the glare.
  • Jobs has decided for you that matte sucks

    Why are you all complaining? Lord Jobs has decided that matte sucks so... logically... matte sucks. Don't complain. Don't buy from the competition that let's you decide what is best. Keep buying from the company that restricts choice. :)
  • RE: R.I.P. Apple matte screen displays

    I was looking forward to spending ??3000 at Apple this morning. It's still in my pocket. I hate reflection-induced headaches and I need matte screens for work. It's a real shame that fantastic products have been crippled by a fatally vainglorious and completely avoidable flaw.
  • The stupidest design idea, ever!

    Both for PCs and Macs. It doesnt' matter, MATTE is BETTER than any of the registered names offered by 24 manufacturers, including Apple, Toshiba, Sony, etc.: AveraBrite, BrightView, ClearView, Color Shine, Crystal View, SuperFine, CrystalBrite, CineCrystal, Diamond Brite, Diamond View, DuraBrite, Fine Bright, Glare, GlassView, Glossy, NeoV Optical Filter, Optic10 Toughened Optical Glass, OptiClear, SuperShine, Super Clear Glare Type, TruBrite, Clear SuperView, TrueLife, Ultrabright, VibrantView,
    Vybrio, XBRITE, X-black, Clear Bright, Clear Photo LCD?
  • RE: R.I.P. Apple matte screen displays

    Totally agree...
    I would have bought the MBP today... but not until there is a solution to deal with the gloss screen reflections. I am a normal power user that refuses to work in the dark.

    Apple.... Please reconsider.

    At this point I can't in good recommend the notebook or display product.

    Ref: 15 year long time graphics professional committed to the Mac work flow.... or maybe not.
  • RE: R.I.P. Apple matte screen displays

    The new screen is real GLASS. I suspect it can be treated with something to make it less glossy, sounds like a business opportunity for someone, send in your machine, get it back with a matte screen in a couple of days....
  • I returned my Sony FW laptop for this very reason!


    I simply couldn't see ANYTHING in a room with windows.
    This is NUTS. I will never buy a laptop with gloss again.
    • Did you try a dark room, George?


      hasta la Vista, bah-bie
    • Totally agree

      I live in a studio apartment with big windows. When it is sunny out unless I close the drapes I cannot see a glossy screen at all. However, with matte finish screens it doesn't make a difference whether it is bright out or not. I like having the light and I like being able to see the screen in both cases. Count me as one who hates these glossy screens. I returned my LCD monitor for another one for just that reason.
  • It won't just be the laptops, soon enough...

    Give it some time, but with the introduction of a new set of
    Cinema Displays, the revamped 17 inch MacBook Pro, and a
    new AppleTV, everything will be completely glossy on the
    display front.
  • RE: R.I.P. Apple matte screen displays

    I got my MacBookPro with an glossy display on whim that one time that I did see a glossy display had sharper images and better color contrast. However, having used it for nearly two years I see several draw backs on the glossy display:
    1) Glare. I under the right conditions I have don't have problems but most of the the the glare is a real pain.
    2) Fingerprints and other junk on the screen. Glossy screen really shows anything and I mean anything on the face of the screen and under the right conditions everything I see all anything that is on the screen (ie fingerprints, dust, etc).
    3) Cleaning. You need to clean the display alot more than the matte display. You need to clean the display differently than the matte display since any left over moisture will show on the display as an streak.

    I wish that Apple will allow people have an choice on display type. This one of the few issues that I believe that Apple MUST allow people to have choice on.
  • go to any commercial art store...

    and buy a can of matte fixative. Or if you're worried that'll ruin your laptop, you can use the anti-glare spray they use for studio photography. In either case, you can spray a piece of mylar to see if you like it. Total cost: about $10: $7 for the spray and $3 for the mylar.
    Or get some frosted Contac(R) adhesive film. Or airbrushing frisket. Cheezuz, people, you're supposed to be the creative ones!! Act like it!!!
  • It's NOT glare

    The glossy screens do not suffer from glare. Glare comes
    from bright light sources. I think you are complaining about

    Having said that, I've used my original MBP (glossy) for 2.5
    years without a complaint. I prefer the deeper color
    saturation and deeper blacks.