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Monday, 30 November 2009


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I couldn't agree more, Steve. Apple's glaringly arrogant design decision with gloss-only screens seems like one of those brain farts that will be used as a case study in some busyness schools for years. This past summer I updated my 17" MacBook Pro to the latest whizzer and, fortunately, was able to order it with a matte screen (for an extra charge?!!). Frankly, the newest matte screens are actually quite an improvement on those of earlier years, featuring slightly more saturated color and less of an apparent diffusion.

I have to believe that the Apple will soon gloss-over this era of glossy-only screens. (I just made a note on my Newton of that prediction.) So I hope the screen replacement guys don't spend all their opportunistic loot.

Thanks for this posting. I hate the glossy screen on my Macbook Pro 15", but there were no options at the time, and i couldn't wait to buy my first laptop. I had read about this TechRestore replacement screen, but your comments give me the sense that i should just go ahead and 'fix' this glare problem. I'll have this machine for a few more years, and each time i see my own hideous reflection, i lose a bit more self-esteem.

This is *extremely* useful information, and not what I expected to find at TOP this morning. Many thanks!

I wish you could send in an Imac to have them upgrade the screen. I'd really like the new quad core 27" model but there is no way I'm going to be using a screen with that much glare.

You know, I keep hearing this complaint about the glossy screens - usually from fellow photographers. I just purchased the 27" iMac for use at home/Home Office design and photo work. For me, the brightness and sharpness of the image, which is a combination of the LED backlight and the glossy screen, are wonderful. Blacks are more accurate, I discern more detail in the highlights and it is easier on my old eyes!
The bit of glare on the screen is not even close to being like the best "flat screen" CRT from past years. If you had one of those you were feeling pretty good and those were quite glossy and slightly curved to boot!
Here is the other side of the Glossy/Matte argument: a matte surface will tend change from any sort of light, ambient or direct. This is going to cause dark tones to appear lighter, colors to appear less saturated, focus to appear softer. On the other hand a glossy screen will not respond to lights except to reflect ones that are in a direct line with your sight. The studio photographers out there who know how to light reflective vs matte surfaces get how this works perfectly.
Sure, it would be best to have an choice, but I say that the glossy screen is much better choice in the end.

One cannot help but feel that Apple has slowly been abandoning the core users that have sustained the company all these years — those of us who work in the pro imaging fields (film, photography, design, etc.).

A good option to bear in mind.

Last week I bought a new MacBook Pro from a proper Apple store. I had previously wondered exactly the same thing, anti-glare or not anti-glare screen, for my serious amateur photography work.
One of the advantages of going to a real shop(TM) is they had a 17" anti-glare and 15" glare immediately side by side, and with the lid slightly down and keyboard backlights on, it was *blindingly* obvious: with the glassy shiny screen, all you see is a reflection of the keyboard lights and yourself but for the same angles of incidence, the anti-glare screen actually still shows the desktop. I'd gone into the shop thinking "save £40" but I came out deeply glad to have spent it.

Now, there is one problem: the Pantone Huey doesn't seem to like the anti-glare screen much; both attempts to calibrate it have resulted in an orange-to-blue tint gradient vertically down the screen, I know not why. However, I'm reasonably content with my MacOS X standard calibration, once I displayed a black&white photo in the background whilst calibrating it, so the Huey can wait a while.

For more info on this thread check Rob Galbraiths at for 2 postings with lots of tests and comparions and the current state of Apple products.




Well, I just retired my G4 iBook and got a 21.5 inch iMac! The improved ergonomics are a great benefit and the big screen makes editing a pleasure. Perhaps I'm fortunate but the shiny screen isn't an issue. Where I have my desk in the study there are no bothersome reflections. Meanwhile the G4 laptop is on standby power charge awaiting future use. I'm not giving it to my wife who uses a PC laptop - she might find out how good the Mac is and want to take over!

I have a Dell 12" XPS with the same problem. In a dark room, playing a DVD, it's awesome, but for web browsing, it's annoying—for photo editing, useless. Maybe I should check these guys out.

I'm assuming the matte screen might be most useful in a laptop, as featured in the post, since a laptop is by nature portable and used in many situations. Presumably an iMac would be static and could be sited where reflections weren't so much of a problem.

After all, we did used to make do with CRT screens, all of which were glass, as Gregory pointed out.


there has to be some kind of stick on material you can put on glossy screens??

I'm still using my G4 12" Powerbook, I'd like to buy a 13" Macbook Pro, but I certainly won't be buying one with a glossy screen. I hate them.

My workplace recently bought a new Mac screen for our designers and ran into this problem. If you have any light behind you at all, the glare is very distracting. Interestingly, what the Apple folks told them was that the new screens were "greener" to make, which is why they were standardizing on them. Is that bogus, does anyone know?

I think we're leading parallel lives, Steve. I've been struggling with the same issue on Windows laptops, and could only find peace with older discontinued models that still had a matte screen. I'm now using the last matte screened Windows laptop available in Hong Kong. When this one needs replacing, it might just be the time that I change to Mac - the availability of the matte screen being the only reason I need for the change.

The first laptop I bought ten years ago had a perfect LCD for Photoshop. And the next two after that one were quite okay too. But then about three years ago the laptop industry took a nasty turn for the worse.

Where on Earth did all the ergonomics crusaders disappear to? Modern laptops are an ergonomic nightmare - Macs included.

My local Apple store handily displayed a nonglare screen MacBook Pro you could compare to the standard model. One look made my decision. As the Apple tech, who was also a photographer, pointed out the nonglare model seems to have truer color rendition and a more natural contrast rendering of images. They even stocked the high spec model with the nonglare, but I wanted the middle priced one. Found it was stocked at B&H. Could not be happier. The $50 extra was worth it and was more than recouped by purchasing at B&H.

Dear folks,

This seems to be the month of the iMac [ smile ]. Last week of October, a week after the new Mac models were announced, our PC had a stroke (personally, I think it died of shame when it saw the new iMacs). We impatiently waited two weeks and snagged a quad-core 27 inch iMac as soon as they showed up at the Apple Store.

Paula and I both really hate the glossy screen. And, yes, I can arrange things in our office to avoid direct light behind us. But there's only so much one can do that way, and the reality is that that screen is SO shiny that it picks up any brighter ambiently-lit areas behind you. Of which I see no way to have none of, with a window off to one side, even with the shades drawn. Short of blackout curtains on the windows or hanging a black bedsheet behind me, this screen is a problem. It's one I can live with, or we wouldn't have gotten this machine, but it's not something I'm happy about.

I also have a 23 inch Apple Cinema display with a matte screen, that's hooked up to my MacBook Pro. I find it LOTS easier to use for critical photo work or even just for casual movie watching. Yes, if the ambient light level is really high, scattering from the screen starts to diminish detail in the blacks, and that's bothersome and interferes with work. But when the ambient light level gets that high, random background reflections off the glossy iMac screen become REALLY intrusive.

I am glad for Gregory's sake that this isn't a problem for him. It definitely is for me.

As for comparisons to CRTs, we had a 21 inch RasterOps display running exactly where the iMac is right now, up until about four months ago, when it finally gave up the ghost. It produced nowhere as high a level of annoying reflections as the iMac does.

Good CRTs usually had anti-reflection coatings on the front surface. The iMac doesn't.

Yes, the problem is much worse with laptop where you have zero control over your background environment when you're moving around. The problem is, nonetheless, pretty severe with a fixed machine.

I am really, really considering the bedsheet option.

Otherwise I love the machine. Sweet.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

with the glassy shiny screen, all you see is...yourself

Precisely, just as Steve Jobs intended :-)

I just replaced my old 17" MacBook Pro anti-glare with a unibody one - forced into paying the premium just to get the matte screen. I have to say that the 17" is a beautiful creature, but no one ever seems to comment about the sharp angled edges on the unibody keyboard base, quite hard on the wrists during a long typing session. The old MBPro had much softer lines.

When it came to replacing my 2006 iMac 24 though I had no choice, a new glossy screen iMac that seems designed to overheat or a Mac Pro plus a monitor of my choice. I've ended up building my own Hack Pro for around one-third the cost and it works superbly.

I'm full of a cold so I've quarantined myself today. Passed some time this morning by watching a film on my 40 inch Samsung which has a piano black finish. So I'm watching Solaris which is imho a good scifi flick and during the odd dark scene a blurry male figure appears in a pink bath robe. It's not George Clooney, it's a reflection of yours truly. This is obviously quite a distraction for me. But her robe ( well I say her robe I really mean her dearly departed mothers) is much warmer than mine (that's my story and I'm sticking to it) and I'm battling a bad cold here, so what ya gonna do?. Still, bursting out laughing and sneezing in unison during a serious scene is not ideal. Damn reflective TV screen!

Upstairs on my Ezio now and about to do some soft proofing so I've changed in to a little black number...

I will worry about the new glossy screens once I figure out what to do about the vertical lines (now 4, including one straight down the middle) that have appeared on the screen of my iMac G5 desktop, now out of warranty.

Laptop design has sadly taken a turn for the worse in the last few years, and Apple's switch to glossy screens is emblematic of that. Walk into any local electronics store, and you'll see not only glossy screens, but glossy cases, keyboards and everything else. It's truly hideous, in my opinion. At least Apple has had the good sense to stick with 16:10 displays, instead of the 16:9 ones that most PC manufacturers are now using. Call me old fashioned, but I like to do more than watch movies on my computer.

@Craig Norris: I believe Dell and Lenovo both still make laptops with matte screens. Dell calls them "anti-glare" displays-- their Latitude line still has them.

a simple, cheaper solution http://store.apple.com/au/product/TV183LL/A?mco=MTQ1MTM2NTA

I have a lot of Macs; some with the matte screen, some with the glossy. I just don't have a problem with the glossy.

And you'd think if anyone would have a problem with it, I would in my last office with all these windows around me.

No problem with the glossy screen here on both my 24" iMac and my Mac Book. I do photography on the iMac and have never experienced problems. I do not have a light source behind me as I sit at the computer which has a lot to do about the problem itself.

Mike C

I have no problem with my glossy MacBook Pro. It seems to be a bummer that the anti-glare screen costs extra but it bears mention that whenever a mass production device is made differently from the others on the line this increases the production costs (no matter what company is making it) and that is passed on the customer who asked for that change as it should be. If you want something different than the others, be prepared to pay for that difference.

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