By Steve Rosenblum
I've used Macs since 1985 or so and have long valued their intelligent design, thoughtful software integration, advanced OS, instant color management, and ease of use for photo editing. I even raised an Apple computer engineer! I am very knowledgeable about Windows-based computers, which I use extensively at work, but once I get home and turn on my Mac I heave a heartfelt sigh of relief.
In my humble opinion, Apple's one major misfire from a hardware standpoint in recent years has been their near-universal adoption of shiny, reflective monitor screens on both their laptop and iMac computer lines. These displays are absolute glare kings, so high in contrast and brightness that they are difficult to use for even semi-serious photo editing. I think Apple went to these screens because they make video and photos "pop," which probably helps them move computers in their brightly lit Apple Stores. However, they've been a disaster for us photographers.
I solved this problem for my desktop computer by buying a Mac Mini and the last-generation matte Apple Cinema Display. The Mini has plenty of horsepower for my style of photo editing, and the display is accurate and beautiful. Last year when I finally handed my trusty 13-inch G4 Powerbook over to my wife, I purchased one of the the 13-inch plastic-bodied Intel-based MacBooks. This computer does everything that I want it to do with speed and aplomb. But it has that cursed shiny screen! I put up with it for a year—not working on any photo files until I got home from vacation and could transfer files to my Mini—trying to find the one seat in a cafe without tremendous screen glare—scrunching down in my chair to find the one angle without reflections, etc. But last month I finally reached the end of my rope. I was going to sell the MacBook at a loss and buy a new 15-inch MacBook Pro, the one Apple laptop that you can order with an anti-glare screen from the online Apple Store.
Then, I came across an online story about a company called TechRestore that offers a service whereby you send them your shiny-screen laptop and they replace it with a matte screen display of equal specification and ship it back to you.
Intrigued, I Googled this and found that it won "Best in Show" at the 2009 Macworld Expo. Satisfied by what I found, I backed up my hard drive and shipped the MacBook off the TechRestore.
The cost for doing this swap for my Macbook was $169 with free ground shipping. They have a number of shipping options, all with a fair pricing structure.
I got the computer back a few weeks ago and it is exactly what I had hoped for: the MacBook that I wanted in the first place. The screen displays an accurate, beautiful image. I had no trouble calibrating it with my ColorEyes Display Pro. It displays a very usable range of grays for photo editing. Two thumbs up from me!
Before people start chiming in on this one, several observations:
1. Yes, Apple should just make this option available on all of its laptops.
2. If you are shopping for a new computer and want a Mac, you should just order the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Matte screen—the TechRestore swap is mostly worth considering if you already have a shiny-screen MacBook or MacBook Pro.
3. TechRestore claims that this modification will not nullify your AppleCare warranty except on the new screen, which they warranty themselves. They say they are a certified Apple repair shop and will handle it for you with Apple. I have not tried that out myself and cannot testify to its legitimacy.
4. Last, but not least, I have no connection, financial or otherwise, with these guys. Just a satisfied customer!