Notebook and Laptop Screens: Matte vs Glossy and Macbook Pro vs Macbook Screens

A crash course in modern Mac notebook screens:

With the advent of the Macbook, Apple switched from a matte screen to glossy for the Macbook line. Many users welcome this change, as many people find that the colors are more saturated (blacks more black, etc), contrast may be higher (not always a good thing), and for things like movies and games, the screen may be more vibrant. The downside is that the glossy screens can double as a mirror in the wrong lighting (meaning anything other than indoors or with strong back lighting). Additionally, many designers, photographers, and other visual artists feel the glossy screens present unrealistic colors, overly contrasted images, and photographs cannot be accurately matched to the final print.

Options: glossy or matte?


Apple surely has their reasons for switching: perhaps it’s cheaper to produce, maybe typical consumers (vs professionals) prefer them in market testing. (many pc notebooks have switched to glossy).

The good news is that Macbook Pro users have the option to choose one or the other. If you’re a geek like me, you’ll do your homework before choosing something so important. Think about it; you drop 2 grand or more on a laptop with all the bells and whistles, but the screen is what you interact with for the rest of the life of the notebook. However, even doing the typical exhausting research doesn’t yield a clear answer. Visual artists tend to present passionate arguments for both sides.

As I currently use a beautiful 20″ iMac to edit my photographs, I’m more accustomed to the matte screen for photography. However, I’m typing this on a Macbook with the glossy screen right now in an outdoor cafe. I have a bright pane of windows surrounding me on all sides, and have no problems at all with the Macbook for general use.

Confusing conundrum: Macbook screen brighter than the Pro?

I was in the Apple store last night and did some basic comparisons. In all fairness, I was comparing the Macbook to the Macbook Pro instead of two Macbook Pros side by side. Adjusting the brightness to its fullest and bringing up the same desktop background, I noticed something peculiar. The Macbook was displaying details in shadows and darker areas that the Macbook Pro wasn’t even showing. I did this many times with multiple backgrounds. The Pro was a matte screen and was the core duo model not the core2 duo. Perhaps the core2 duo model’s screen has been updated to a higher output? I know the glossy screen tends to seem brighter, but this was a case where there was actually a very big difference in details showing up – and this concerns me as a photographer. Does anyone have experience with a Macbook Pro matte or glossy? Do you regret your decision one way or another? Have you had any problems with the reports of “graininess” in your screen?

Reality: How critical is all this?

Now, in all reality, a photographer / designer / visual artist probably shouldn’t be editing photos for production work on a laptop screen. There’s no laptop screen on the market that can compare with a pro level screen at this time. However, both Macs can easily output to another monitor, making the glossy/matte decision much less critical in many cases. On the flip side, not everyone can afford to get into a nice external monitor and most people will find no qualms editing photos on either of the screens.

To make matters more confusing, rumors have been circulating that Apple will be introducing LED lit screens into their notebooks sometime in the near future.

From AppleInsider:

While pricer than CCFLs, LED technology is more efficient at distributing lighting evenly across the entire display surface and offers an increase in color saturation. According to a white paper from Cree, a backlight solutions provider expected to provide its LED technology to Apple, LED-based backlights also consume less power, run cooler, and last longer than CCFLs.

For end users, the new technology translates into improved notebook battery life and displays that will maintain their initial levels of brightness longer into their respective life-cycles. Come this spring, LED-lit displays will also deliver a more vivid canvas for the various software user interface enhancements and animation techniques that will be included with Mac OS X Leopard.

To wrap things up, the computer’s processor may be the brains of a notebook, but the screen is certainly the beauty. It’s not something trivial to those who care about the quality their work presents. For road warriors, traveling artists and photographers, the notebook screen may be their only screen; often it needs to meet a number of demands under ever-changing environments. When deciding on a notebook, it’s not a time to make quick decisions; nor is it recommended to order something like a Macbook Pro in matte or glossy without actually seeing and comparing them first. (by the way, if you order a MBP it generally will be matte by default; in Indonesia you have to pay more for the glossy and they’re never on display). Whether one is better than the other ultimately boils down to personal preference and what your needs may be. Make the decision only after careful consideration; buyer’s remorse after spending two or three grand is not a pleasant thing.

  • This is where I bought my Macbook Pro:

    700 Southwest 5th Avenue, Suite #1035
    Portland, OR 97204
    (503) 222-3002

    Mon – Fri: 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
    Sat: 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
    Sun: 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

    They’re friendly. Give them a call. Speak to a real person. Ask questions. It couldn’t hurt. (Probably call in the morning when they’re not too busy with customers.)

  • JJ

    “To make matters more confusing, Apple has announced that they will be introducing LED lit screens into their notebooks sometime in the near future.”

    To make matter more confusing, you’re claiming things Apple NEVER announced. The rumor sites have discussed this, but not Apple.

  • Brandon

    JJ – Fair enough. I’ve altered the post to reflect your point.

  • maX

    Glossy won out here. I often marvel at the beautifly crisp picture on our black MacBook glossy screen. Everything is just better with this view. Late at night, watching a movie, worth the price of admission. iPhoto, iMovie, almost anything EYE, is just better.

  • Sebhelyesfarku

    Additionally C2D2 MacBook Pro screens have very poor viewing angles, irregular backlighting (bright stripe at bottom, dark corners etc.) and grainy coating; there are 100 posts threads on the support discussion forum about this. I’d wait for the next generation Pro laptops.

  • Brandon

    Lao – I may just give them a call, as the Indonesian reps tend to be much less aware of these topics; I’ve had many discussions with them on a number of subjects, but not always to my full satisfaction. Now, the phone bill calling from Indonesia could be a killer! πŸ˜‰

  • Brandon

    Sebhel – Are the poor viewing angles a problem with both glossy and matte? As I’ve mentioned, I haven’t had a chance to view a MBP c2d on display yet. However, some of the detail missing I had discussed was in reference to the bottom right and left corners of the screen – perhaps that’s what it was. Maybe the center of the screens would appear more similar? The graininess is also a concern.

    Any reliable predictions on when the next MBP may be released? If I had to guess I’d say by the middle of June, hopefully even earlier with the release of Leopard. I think Jobs won’t release it at the same time as the iPhone though; I think that’ll be his next ‘baby’ and he’ll want all attention focused on that.

  • Glider

    I actually just sold my black MacBook to switch to a matte MacBook Pro. I enjoyed the glossy screen, but for design work it just wasn’t cutting it. It looked nice, but as already stated I couldn’t calibrate it to match my print work. The matte MacBook Pro is like coming home. Plus the viewing angle on the glossy screen wasn’t as nice as my new MacBook Pro (core duo, not core 2 duo).

  • Swervette

    I have found that, no matter what refelction the glossy screen creates, the reflection of my big head in the screen is always big enough to block it out.

    Pictures that only show screen reflections do not take into account your own reflection.

  • Damir Romanik

    What Idiot came up with an idea that a mirror makes a good laptop screen, have they gone crazy or do they think we are stupid, I am deffinitely looking at a Mac for my next laptop at least they give us a choice, and for those suckers that want something glossy just cause its niiiice! but is totally unpractical, good luck to you SUCKERS! I’m keeping my old matt finish laptops till the marketing strategy changes again. HATE!!!! GLOSSSSSSSSSSS!

    Sack the person who came up with the stupid idea!!!!!!!!!

  • dagnabit

    Being in the market for a new laptop, I must concur with Damir’s astute elucidation.

  • laura

    highly agree with damir. glossy screens are distracting and annoying. yet besides a mac, it seems impossible to find a matte screened laptop in the current market. anyone know of where to find one?

  • Chelsea

    This post actually helped me out a lot, I’m looking into buying a Macbook Pro myself, and as a photographer, who cannot afford an external monitor at this time i found it really helpful reading about the difference between the 2 screens. It is, of course, very important to me and many others in digital photography to not take away from the natural beauty of a subject in the editing process and from what I’m hearing about the glossy screens, it sounds like photo editing is inaccurate, which would most definitely be a problem.

    I was advised to buy a glossy screen, however, reading this, I am beginning to second guess that.

  • Pierre

    Very informative article / posts. I admire the glossy for its clarity… but by reading everyone’s opinions, I do (just like Chelsea) begin to 2nd guess that glossy is the way to go πŸ™

    I think quite frankly, looking at it this way: –I have an 17″ LCD screen on my desktop computer at home. It serves its purpose, and its damn much more better quality than a big bulky CRT monitor (And thank god Laptops don’t have built-in CRT! :P). My eyes have been enjoying this type of screen and I don’t see anything to complain about it.–

    Now, with that said… I have to ask myself: –why would I want to select a glossy screen, that I have experienced maybe once or twice on previous systems (Windows mind you…), and ‘risk’ regretting it?–

    To top things off… sure enough, the reflectivity of glossy is what repels most consumers. On the other hand, some are not inclined to get the matte because of its colour deterioration from side angles…

    Ahem ahem… I repeat – “from side angles”… How often do you use your laptop at a 45-degree angle on the side? Wouldn’t that be a little hard to type on? So, given a bit of common sense… viewing angles should be a low factor in the list (at least for indoor use).

    So my summarized opinion is… I think matte deserves the most points. However, if anyone can attest that they’ve had successful experience designing/developing/using a glossy, NAMELY at night / dark environments… then KUDOS to glossy! That may be the right opinion that I need to hear (read) to convince me thats the type of screen I should be using for night-club DJ’ing. πŸ˜€

  • Moustafa

    I hate glossy screens it really sucks

    Also I prefer not only matte screens but also standard size 5:4 aspect ratio screen.

    They tell us it is wider, but actually it is less in height. it sucks

  • tito

    My concern is..what is better for my eyes.

    I know that glossy looks fancy and cool, but, I was in one mac shop today and really seen the reflections on glossy screen – it is a bit annoying.And i think that matte are more healthy.

    Anyone expert on that subject???

  • tito

    My concern is..what is better for my eyes.

    I know that glossy looks fancy and cool, but, I was in one mac shop today and really seen the reflections on glossy screen – it is a bit annoying.And i think that matte are more healthy.

    Anyone expert on that subject???

  • All my life ive used matte. Ive seen the glossy.. way too distracting. it may be pretty to people that dont have to use it everyday, but not worth it.

    matte it is. im off to order my new macbook pro…

  • I agree with most people here. I’ve always been using matte LCD screens and really, I wouldn’t want any more brightness or contrast that they already deliver. Glossy always hurts my eyes and looks overly bright to me. Not to mention the colors are plain weird.

  • Vijay

    hi all,
    After reading comments of everyone here, I want to an honest answer to whether you really have used a glossy display before putting in these opinions.
    Because in my guess, these comments are just based on personal assumption without actually using them.

  • noro

    thank God my card was declined today while purchasing MBP Glossy screen!!! I am definitely getting matt screen dude.

    funny thing is, until i read this post I had fantastic time using MB’s glossy screen, but now the contents seems blurry in my eyes :b

  • Bob Plato

    Thanks for a very helpful and interesting view. I am just back from DSE (in NZ) where I went to plonk down my good cash on a HP dv6820TX notebook that met all my specs wonderfully. But I took one look at it and was horrified. I don’t know where I’ve been for the last year, but I expected a nice matte screen like on the 67xx my son bought last year. Instead this MIRROR. Horrible horrible horrible. I want to use the notebook in a motorhome – lots of windows and light. I’m with Damir. What are they thinking? Did we ask for screens as shiny as they can make them? I’m just recoverng from the horror of what they’ve done to LCD TVs. Lovely matte screens, but now they go and surround it with as much shiny plastic as they can find. Samsung has a lovely LCD TV screen and a hideous black plastic surround. Anything other than a dark room and it’ll get every bit of reflection going and distract the eye. What are they thinking? And they’re all going the same way, like a herd of stupid things. Luckily I was able to get an end-of-line Sony as their new ones are doing the same thing. I thought that was bad enough until I saw this mirror-screen notebook today. In a year or two they’ll come up with new and improved notebook screens that are non-reflective and easy to see in normal light. The worst thing is that there doesn’t seem to be any choice as far as PC notebooks go. I might go and harrass HP anyway – but then I’ll end up having to buy one. Arrgghhhhhhhhhhh…

  • Stanley Leung

    I recently brought a Dell notebook with Duo cpu, delicated graphic card and 4G ram. The only thing I wished to get but couldn’t was the matte screen. Although the matte screen option was available on the advertisement in their US website, the Hong Kong Dell staff said the matte screen option is unavailable in Hong Kong.

    I have no choice but to order the glossy screen. And wish to be able to get used to it. But the more I try to get on with it the more I think the glossy thing is a very silly idea.

    More than 90 percent of the new notebooks on display in the stores of Hong Kong now have glossy screens. So there must be a lot of people prefering them. I had worked as a programmer for a living for more than 10 years in the past so I consider myself a knowledgeable computer user. My conclusion is that the computer market is controlled by people who cannot look deeper than the surface of any machinery. And what shines usually appeal to this kind of user…

  • vertikal

    glossy is easier to wipe down and much cheaper to manufacture, so it pervades in the consumer market.

    matte displays colors more suitable for print and publication, and reduces reflections so you can see more of your work.

    break down:

    -if you are an average user and enjoy VIEWING content on your laptop, glossy may be good, even preferable.

    -if you are a a graphic designer or photographer and you are CREATING or EDITING visual content on your laptop, you would be better off with the matte.

    >>this isn’t a summery of opinions, its fact based on 15 years of experience.<<

  • graham

    I’ve been privy (if you can call it that) to work with a few glossy laptops owned by co-workers and friends… they were PC’s of course, because these particular acquaintances are still under the lulling soporific hypnoses of MS and windows, and run with the non-thinking herd… and they were running Vista no less. Idiots.

    Anyway, despite their obvious inferiority, I forced myself to endure them for a bit, I paid particular attention to the screen and how it made things appear. Though I didn’t have my macbook pro (matte) with me at the time (which is now a $3400 paper weight due to a chai-tea incident) I was still able to pick out the issues.

    Glossy is, well glossy. It’s glitz and no substance, eye-popping and superficial and does not represent real colors, shades and tones. Granted the contrast is much more obvious, but it’s really too much because all the colors seem ridiculously over the top.

    I, like many of us, use my computer for just about everything – work, study, entertainment, blunt force weapon, sex partner… oh geez, ummm, I mean uhh, scratch that; I would never use it as a physical weapon. So yeah, among other things I am a photographer, and realism isn’t a preference, it’s a necessity. Glossy is the equivalent of the average kodak color film used by the consumer, ISO 100 through 400 or so – the colors are saturated and intentionally over pronounced (especially reds and greens), intended to attract the attention of joe schmoe during family vacations and such. You watch a movie or a powerpoint presentation and “whahoo!, look at them thar colors explodin’ on mah screen!” In low light its brilliant and flashy, and the representation of the image as true to life is imaginary. Without low light you can usually see the screen well enough… but I’m not in the market for well enough, I’m in it for near perfection.

    OK so point made right? well one drawback to matte has already been suggested; graininess. It’s not extraordinarily obvious, but I have noticed it from time to time… however I’m under the impression that with the advent of LED screens this will be much less of an issue. But the worst part is what happens to the screen when something gets on it. Matte is very sensitive, and just wiping it off when there is something hard on the screen, like cookie crumbs or even a speck of sand, can scratch it instantly. I know this from experience, which is why I always try to use compressed air to blow everything off before even considering wiping it. I know I know, scratches on a glossy screen can be very obvious, sometimes moreso than on matte, but A: the average user probably won’t notice it nearly as much as any of us professionals would, B: a glossy screen can be cleaned far easier, and C: a glossy screen can be replaced much easier than a matte, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. But I’ve found my matte to be very susceptible, and I’ve not liked the little scratches that it’s gotten along the way.

    There is a solution though… get a transparent screen cover that lays atop the current one (obviously a matte one). They usually come as adhesive sheets, but they are not meant to be all that permanent. THAT can always be removed and replaced anytime the need arises. A much cheaper solution than replacing the whole screen.

    Basically, in my humble opinion, glossy is for those who don’t care about true color, photo editing, etc…. its for movie watchers and frivolous net surfers addicted to You-tube, or maybe non-imaging students and professionals that just want something that pops out at them. Even then they’ll have to deal with glare and reflections, but that might only be for a small percentage of the time it’s used, so if they like it I say go nuts.

    But if you need as close to perfect as you can get, and don’t want to go blind from hues not found in nature, the path’o’wisdom leads indubitably to matte . Photographers and visual artists all seem to come to this conclusion, sometimes after going gloss for the “detail” only to find upon closer inspection it’s actually less detailed, and or inaccurate. But as our posting host said at first; compare them yourself, make sure that you don’t need gloss to correct for poor vision or being slightly color-blind, or whatever your particular needs might be. No one should take anyone’s opinion as gospel, only as a [potentially] reasonable starting point for their own investigations.

    quick!, someone run to the silverware drawer… get a spork, or plain old fork, and stab me with it; I’m done.

  • David Radford

    Damir Romanik, I totally agree with you. I HATE glossy screens. We’ve just had 30 years of glossy CRT screens – i.e. reflective screens. Reflective screens are very bad for your eyes, you are constantly having to (unconsciously) focus and refocus on the screen and not whatever is reflected in it, and it’s just unbelievable that so many companies are now bringing out these retarded screens because “they look nice in the showroom”. What sort of morons are buying them and claiming they’re ‘better’? Do you do all your work in a pitch dark room? If not, then you’ll be able to see reflections in the screen. Why would anybody want that? When you read a book, do you miss the fact that you can’t see your own face reflected in the pages? How stupid are people?

    As for the difference in colours, contrast, etc. – what a load of bullshit. People should be far more concerned about ruining their eyesight by trying to read text for hours on end, in a MIRROR. It’s not good for you.

  • Magrina

    I’ve read all these opinions, along with other similar ones on similar boards and i recognize the concern for design but have a slightly different situation that i hope someone maybe interested in weighing in on.

    I’ll be starting law school next month and am in an atypical situation. I will not be using text books but rather everything will be converted to cd and thus done on my computer. I have a slight issue with light sensitivity and glare, and so felt that buying the matte screen was more advantageous. Under my circumstances of long hours of reading black and white text on screen with the possibility of immediate and direct light sources (i.e. old banker’s lamps in the library) im curious to see what other people think.

    (In the past Ive used both glossy screen displays and matte, while the glossy display was great for unintended surveillance of what was going on behind me, it was more distracting than anything else…so thats where my ambivalence is coming from)

  • Kee Boudi

    I totally agree with David Radford and other glossy screen haters.

    I am in the market for a new laptop for work and am at a complete loss since glossy screens seem to make up 99% of models on display.

    The reflections are tiring on the eyes and just plain annoying. I blame it on the masses … like magpies attracted to shiny objects.

    I am a Windows user … no derisory comments from the Mac evangelists please … I use Macs as well and maintain they are great … for designers, women and children that is πŸ™‚

    Joking aside, I am seriously considering getting a MBP so I can run Windows on it. I did a bit of research and the only viable PC alternative with a matte screen I found is HP Compaq’s 8710w (Panasonic tough books also have matte screens but not really suitable for me).

    MBP pros:
    – Sexy design
    – Light
    – Love the magnetic power connector thing
    – errr .. did I mention the design?
    – Can test on both platforms on one machine (I develop websites)

    MBP cons:
    – Expensive
    – No proper right click ‘button’
    – No delete key (!)
    – Horrible keyboard and no numeric pad even though there is room for it on the 17″ model
    – Some reported driver issues with running Windows (sound/iSight etc.)

    HP pros:
    – Cheaper (there is currently a Β£150 cashback offer as well – yipee)
    – Good ergonomic design
    – Great keyboard / seperate numeric keys
    – Very well built
    – Lots of connectivity (ports)

    HP cons:
    – Bulky/heavy
    – Heavy
    – Not exactly beautiful (but attractive in a solid kind of way)

    What to do…?

  • Kee Boudi

    Oh – I forgot to mention
    Graham, you sure you want to use the word idiot to describe your friends/colleagues and then mention the chai tea incident?

  • Graham

    Why yes Kee, I do… but only because it was someone else’s fault that the Starbucks sugar packed concoction pulled a New Orleans Levy on my gorgeous 6 month old mac-baby. It’s not too soon to use the Big Easy as a comparative punch line is it? Anyway – had it just been water my computer would be safe and sound when it dried, but the sugar caramelized and solidified, making new electronic connections, not to mention quickly rusting the components. I was not a happy camper… I wasn’t even a tolerant one.

    This is not to say I’m not an idiot… I’m quite sure I am – but it has nothing to do with the battle at little big-mac, and everything to do with my taste in women, and subsequent masochism… at least that’s what my therapist told me before I broke up with her.

    Now then… to respond to your list of pro’s and con’s.

    I get tired of hearing about the lack of a right click button…

    A: the equivalent of a right click is one easy keyboard stroke when something is selected, it just so happens it’s not on the mouse – but it IS where your fingers are already placed. It’s just a matter of coordination. Unless you are a hunt-and-pecker (snicker), it’s of no consequence once you get used to it.

    B: I hate the lack of a right click button. I hate it with every inch of my being, and a few inches from your being too Kee. I hate it I hate it I hate it. If it were vegetables on a plate I would tell my Mom to go to Newark New Jersey (hell) cause I’m not gonna deal with ’em. I know how to do it with the keyboard, and it’s not difficult, but it’s the principle of the thing… so I boycott the keyboard option. Instead, I just quit my bitchin’, and being as clever as I am went a novel path that no laptop user has ever gone before; I got an external mouse – a PC external mouse at that. I know, it’s CRAZY right!? but it just so happens that the EM is better than any trackpad anyway, it’s portable, cordless, and has it’s own right click button!!!! one that works exactly the same with Mac OSX as it does with PC. Isn’t that incredible? I think I might publish a book about my genius idea, maybe start a revolution. If I do it in Cuba I might be able to overthrow Castro. “Down with Castro, up with Rodents!”

    OK now the other thing… no delete key? c’mon, that’s hardly worth mentioning. It’s just backspace in reverse, I mean geeze just move the cursor over a bit – the directional buttons still work nicely.

    As for the numeric pad – ok well this is pure opinion and speculation here… but I virtually never use the pad on my PC, and I think that’s the case with most people. I use the numbers up top easily, which obviously have the dual function of the symbols, so it’s just efficiency for me. A pad on a laptop is unnecessarily complicated, and part of the joy of a laptop is its slightly more spartan nature, uncluttered, simplified, free as a nudist yet streamlined like a german car… which is ironically not like most of the germans who make the cars – remember, they like beer.

    as for the price – ok, ya got me there, they cost a pretty penny. in all honesty though, I think they are more than worth it compared to their pc laptop counterparts. in terms of the driver issues and whatnot I’ll just take your word for it, I’ve no need to run an inferior OS on a superior machine πŸ™‚

    and I’m not a mac evangelist… I’m merely wise enough to discern the difference between quality and piece-of-shittery – in computers that is. I swore by PC’s until 2 years ago, wouldn’t give macs a chance – then Jobsus showed me the way as he drew me in with the star of Applehem, and yea was I filled with the spirit of the newborn book-of-the-mac, pro. actually I just messed around with my friends MBP and had him show me a few advantages, and I was hooked. The other way just sounds more profound. Anywho, I felt the need to comment on your comparisons, and I’ve done that, so my work is done.

    oh yeah and glossy sucks, matte rules. There see?, I’m not off topic anymore.

  • Kee Boudi

    It’s all good Graham πŸ™‚

    Moral of the story in spillage incidents is to act very quickly to save the machine:

    – immediatley remove power and battery
    – dismantle the machine and wash/clean the circuit boards
    – dry it
    – re-assemble

    As I was a hardware engineer in a previous life I would do this myself but mortal souls should high tail it to a repair shop.

    In fact I even revived an answering machine a long time after the incident … cleaning the coffee sludge restored it to working condition.

    Soft drinks are hazardous as well as the acid in them corrodes connections and joints.

    I do use an external mouse so the right click thing isn’t a huge issue but still … why doesn’t his Holiness The Jobs just put a second button there already. There can really be no good reason for it. I am more concerned being able to do a right click in the Windows as the two fingers on pad + click substitute works well in OSX.

    It’s not that I don’t give Macs a chance … as I said I use it for some things but I just like to Duke it out on a PC in a manly fashion. Seriously though, apart from all the software I’d have to re-invest in, habit comes into and some things are just better on a PC platform.

    I know I could remap the right Apple key as a delete (remember we sometimes like to do the 3 finger salute ctrl-alt-del in the PC world) and use various other workarounds to solve driver issues but I like to use my laptop, not fiddle with it.

    The driver issues are not from personal experience BTW — rather from information I have found in various forums etc.

    I am still considering the MBP though (did I mention how nice it looks)?

    Numeric pads are good if you need to enter a lot of numbers but obviously not essential.

    Not sure where you were going with that German analogy … I like German beer and girls. Cars are nice too.

    Matte rules.

  • Graham

    a nice thing about the MBP is that it automatically recognizes a liquid incident and shuts itself down asap. It wasn’t plugged in at the time, and I did remove the battery… but sadly the chai was a Venti, and 3/4’s of it spilled before I could do anything about it. I drained and soaked it up asap, but didn’t open the case for fear of voiding the warranty.

    so I took it to the apple store within 2 hours, and naturally they told me liquid damage isn’t covered – however I could pay $1250 to have all the internal components replaced, and I do mean all, the only remainder of which would be the screen. I couldn’t afford it at the time, and had I known I could just open it up and clean the innards myself using distilled water, I would have. Instead, it sat for months until I saved up the dough. When it was finally sent off to the company for repairs, they immediately sent it back and said the damage was “catastrophic” and “not economically feasible for repair”. Basically, they screwed me. I mean c’mon, I was going to pay for everything to be replaced, what else is there???

    so now I have a very expensive paper weight ($3600), no laptop, and I’m forced to use a really horrible Dell desktop that was a “deal” at the time for $450… not something I purchased by the way, it was for my Mom, but then she got herself a macbook and gave me this shaistey garbage of a computer. I fell out of love with Dell about 8 years ago, when they began relying on the name to sell and let quality fall to the wayside.

    So I’m saving up for a new MBP – but I ain’t nowhere close yet. They ain’t cheap, and I ain’t rich. I’ve been miserable since November when it went down.

    now about the rest – yes, it’s about time for a right click to be standard on the Macs. It’s just stupid not to. I love the look of the mac computers on the whole, but the mice (mouses? mouse’s? mouses’?) have always looked ugly to me, not to mention inefficient.

    as for habit – as with anything new, there is a learning curve, but with mac’s it’s quick one. I know you already use ’em so it wouldn’t be difficult at all. As for program replacement – some might think me a jerk, but I just download everything I need, without feeling the need to pay for programs that are overpriced. If it was a startup company that produced high quality software but was just getting their feet wet, then I’d happily pay for it – but that’s virtually never the case, so I tend not to feel guilty. As well I’ve found virtually everything to run smoother on a Mac than PC, and that include MS Office oddly enough. Browsers, photoshop, cakewalk, finale, games, disc burning software… there are problems now and again of course, but no where near as often as with my former PC’s. Ironically Safari is the worst browser to run on OSX… Firefox and Opera are vastly superior, which is just sad on Apple’s part.

    Now to comment on the fiddling and tweaking – it’s not like you have to reinstate the changes each time you use or even restart your system… you augment it once, and then it’s set, no biggie. short of a reformat or reinstall of the OS, it will stick, so I have a tough time imagining that it would eat into your user time enough to avoid the option.

    Granted numeric pads are good for those that need them, I just don’t think most people do. If you write code, are an accountant or tax attorney, or use Excel non-stop, then yes it’s worth it, but for the rest of us it would take up space and be one more thing to accidentally tap when typing. However I think I might have a solution; create an external USB numeric pad. something small and efficient, but large enough to not have to struggle with. give it good rubber feet to grip, or maybe even a way to attach to the side of the laptop, and place it just north of where the external mouse might be. worst case scenario is the you have to keep your mouse slightly further back, but big whoop. best of both worlds, if you ask me, which you didn’t, but I’ve told you anyway. You’ve read it, you can’t unread it, so there!

    I am reflectionless… I am colorful… I am detailed… I am realistic… I am pragmatic… I am calm and wise… I am not flashy or superfluous. All find joy in me, for I am matte, and shall never been foolish, and glossy.

    Matte has spoken.

    – g –

  • Ty

    I did this but now windows will only use it with 800×600 which the screen can’t do. how to I get vista to make the screen work at 1280×800?

  • Graham

    did what? what’s the issue w/the screen, and what’s the relevance to matte vs. glossy?

  • Ty

    I am saying that I installed a matte screen and it won’t work in boot camp vista. The screen stays at 800×600 when it should be at 1280×800 like it is in Mac OS X. SO I AM SAYING, THAT IF YOU BUY A MATTE SCREEN, THINK TWICE BECUASE MINE WON’T WORK IN VISTA BOOT CAMP!

  • Graham

    It may be an incompatibility based on the make and model of the screen, rather than the matte vs. glossy. I don’t believe much if any of the components in a glossy screen differ from the matte, it’s just a matter of the material on which the image is produced. It might be worth your while to look up this specific problem via apple support, or searching out threads from folks with the same monitor and or issues.

    If you are so inclined, or have the option, it might be a good bench test to try running win XP in order to make sure if it’s a problem with the computer, OS, or monitor – or any combination of those.

    I’m just spit balling of course, I don’t claim to have intimate knowledge of this type of problem, but I think a good amount of investigation could shed some light on it.

    anyone else have ideas to help Ty out?

    – g –

  • Joot

    I initially liked the glossy screen over the matte….however– that was before i spent a few hours in front of my macbook pro glossy screen to do research, writing and editing.

    Now I’ve noticed that I have some real issues with light sensitivity after being in front of my glossy screen. I can’t go outside and look straight, I have to look down, and the sun really irritates my eyes. I even have issues with blurriness and dizziness when the sun comes directly at me at an angle. I’ve tried wearing sunglasses more often, but it doesn’t really help. The issue is really with my eyes, because they still feel uncomfortable.

    I have spent many, many hours in front of a matte screen, and never had this issue. I probably shouldn’t be depending on my laptop computer to do all my work and that has probably been straining my body in general, but I’ve definitely not had problems with light sensitivity. I’m very skeptical of the new glossy screen, do not like them and convinced they have caused eye problems for me.

  • Sage

    Actually, Graham & Kee Boudi, they do make external USB numeric pads. I got a USB mouse/numeric pad combo for about $30.

  • g

    I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me, considering they have virtually everything as an external usb these days. here I was hopin’ I could invent it and corner the market – but capitalism has screwed me once again.

    stupid free people and their ingenuity. but thanks for the info nonetheless.

    – g –

  • Kee Boudi

    External USB keypads are bit of a pain though
    Incidentally, I found that Dell also still make matte screens

  • Thanks everyone for the insightful posts. I bought a Macbook Pro today at futureshop after being stuck on a Dell laptop, which had a glossy screen, for two years. Anyway, the person I bought the MBP from didn’t ask me if I wanted glossy or matte, and so when I brought it home and opened it up, I realized with horror that it was a matte. I was panicked at first because I wasn’t sure if I could exchange it for a glossy one, but after reading a lot of these posts, I think I’m going to stick with the matte.

    I’m also a photographer/designer and I’ve assumed for the longest time that glossy is better than matte because of the former’s richer colors and tonal contrast. But as many people pointed out, the colors on glossy screens are less accurate than mattes, plus they are harder to calibrate. I will also attest to the fact that reflections on glossy monitors suck!

    But for anyone who are not convinced by these arguments and still wish to get a glossy monitor, but at the same time a matte, I offer a suggestion. I’m just going to assume that a lot of us also use an external monitor due to our professions, I know I do. For your MBP, buy a matte, and for your external monitor, get a glossy one. It seems that the main reason people are avoiding the glossy screens are because of the reflections one encounters when face to face with a variety of light scenarios, but I assume for the most part it’s all under control if you’re going to stick to one spot, whether it be at home or work. That way, you can still have the viewing benefits of a glossy monitor and avoid those nasty reflections. And for every other location else you’ll have your matte MBP.

  • g

    good stuff, glad yer stickin’ with the matte. Though I use a matte external at home as well, and I’m still happier with it. little to no glare, and I don’t have to adjust for window light or television… plus as I’ve said before, no false colors. That richness you spoke of isn’t the true color – you might be able to find a way to print it exactly as it looks on the screen, but not without effort, and it wouldn’t represent the original photo well.

    I suppose it depends upon how much editing is to be done for an image as well, and how natural looking you need it to be. For realism, I go matte. For intense editing of colors, shading, image enhancement effects like embossing and the like, I can see how it could boil down to preference.

    good to know you are doing your research before running back in a panic. if only the cia and military thought like that. πŸ™‚

    – g –

  • B

    Interesting exchange, especially in the glare of the new Mac laptops just announced. I have a Mac G4 laptop (matte screen) and a Mini duo 2 hooked to a NEC glossy screen. Like Joot, I’ve noticed distinct eye problems and wonder what good quality external matte monitors are available/recommended? Videos are definitely better on the gloss and as for photos, since essentially all of mine are online viewed by others with gloss screens, the colors probably are reasonably accurate, although I do prefer the depth of the matte pictures. I’d love to get a really good matte desktop monitor (one that won’t break my quite small bank. πŸ™‚ ) thx!


  • b00g

    Man, I want to be graham’s friend. What a humble, warm & caring sounding guy.

  • g

    you are too kind.

  • Dom

    Ergonomists have long known that screen reflections cause eyestrain and headache/migraine. For instance, see

    Glossy screens can only be recommended for use in dark environments where there are no surrounding lights. So I recommend everyone to stay away from glossy screens, even if it is not that easy, given that they’ve taken over all but the whole market.

  • Hi guys,

    I realize this isn’t entirely on topic, but if anyone could help me out, I’d really appreciate it. I’m living in Indonesia (like Brandon) and I’ve managed to crack the screen on my MacBook Core2Duo 13″. Slipped off my lap when I fell asleep. Feel like an idiot.

    Anyway, I went to the Apple store here and they wanted 8.2 million Rp to replace it. I know the screen doesn’t cost that much, and I’ve seen installation instructions online which look fairly simple. Does anyone know a good place where I can buy a replacement LCD screen?


  • Brandon
  • Thanks Brandon and emailer. said they will ship to me, so I’ll give that a shot. Crossing fingers that it won’t crack in transit.

  • DevoPeetz

    Matte vs Gloss

    IMHO, it totally depends on whether you can tolerate the glare.

    Even if the colors are better on gloss, what’s the use if you get terrible eyestrain after several hours of use day in day out?

    Some people say they have no problem with the glare — but don’t listen to them, because there are equal numbers of people who suffer from the glare. It is a personal thing. You need to try it out. Not just in a shop, but under real conditions where you use it for many hours. Glare is fine for a few minutes, but eyestrain happens after many hours of starring at the stupid glare.

    Some people say the glare disappears if you turn up the light intensity of the screen, but don’t listen to them because there are equal number of people who still suffer from the glare, even after turning up the intensity. Once again, it is a a personal thing, which you won’t know until using for many hours.

    For me personally, I hate glossy screens with a passion. I hate them. I hate them. This is because I primarily use my computer for text and writing. I acknowledge that glossy gives better colors, but I mostly use my computer for writing, emails, Microsoft Word etc. I cannot stand the glare.

    In my room, if the computer screen is perpendicular to the window, it is fine. Like a mirror, when the window light is to one side, there are no reflections. But turn the screen towards the window, and you get massive glare.

    Plus, if you turn up the light intensity to counter the glare, that high intensity of light is also no good for your eyes if you’re starring at the screen for an entire day. You know, some people use computers for work, and that requires looking at the screen all day, 5-7 days a week, all year except for holidays. Steve Jobs didn’t think of people like us when he forced the glossy screen on us. Sure, glossy looks nice for kiddly winks who watch videos at night in their bedrooms, and play games, but matte is for working people who use their computers as work tools.

    Moreover, and getting serious, different people’s eyes are either stronger or weaker. Some people suffer more from glare than others. Having glare introduces two focal distances in the screen image. e.g. when a distant scenery is seen in a mirror, you’re actually focussing on infinity, not on the mirror surface. Whereas, on a glossy screen, with glare (i.e. the scenery in the background), you have the background at infinity focus, and the screen about 2 feet away from you. That plays havoc on your eyes. Young people’s eyes may take it, but older people’s eyes can be stuffed up by things like that.

    Please note. I appreciate that there are people that love glossy screens. I am not saying matte screens are for everyone. If you like gloss, you should get gloss. If I love matte, then I should be allowed to get matte.

    I am not raging against glossy screens, per se. I am raging against Apple’s denial to give me the matte option. The key word here is OPTION.

    Apple is becoming a P$%ICK of a company because it has the egotistical stance that it’s Steve’s way or the highway. If you don’t like glossy screens, then stuff yourself. Now, with the new 17″ unibody MacBook Pro, they at least relented by offering an anti-glare matte option for $50 extra — but what about the 15″ MacBook Pro and the iMac. What are we expected to do if the 17″ model is too large for our needs.

    In summary, it comes down to whether your eyes can tolerate glare — yes, there is glare — after working with the computer for e.g. 3-5 hours per day for many months. Remember, eyestrain takes many hours, and many months to stuff up your eyes, so don’t just think it’s fine if a few minutes of glare don’t bother you. You might not feel it, but your eyes are compensating for it.

  • Kee Boudi

    Glossy screens do strain the eyes when trying to work as Devo says.

    Sony has just recently released a new 18.4″ (!) screen laptop (they call it X-black LCD with RGB 3chip LED technology — Google Sony VGN-AW11XU/Q) and it is very good.

    Vibrant colours but with an anti-glare treatment … not quite matte but very good and easy on the eyes.

    Unfortunately, it is very expensive at the moment… maybe in time it will come down in price and also filter through to other models.

    I just hope it is popular because I worry that Joe Public seems to love glossy screens as they don’t use it for work.

  • Too late now. It's 2009 and only glossy is available.

  • Too late now. It's 2009 and only glossy is available.

    • kammy

      On MPB 17″, you can upgrade to a matte screen, which I did, because my eye sight is already bad enough.

  • kammy

    On MPB 17″, you can upgrade to a matte screen, which I did, because my eye sight is already bad enough.

  • Glenn

    Apple should offer a snap in replacement for either and let the customer decide.

    If they take the glossy home and find the reflections annoying, they or a Apple Store tech can easily switch it for matte and vise versa.

    It's about hardware choice, something Apple needs to focus on more.

  • Glenn

    Apple should offer a snap in replacement for either and let the customer decide.

    If they take the glossy home and find the reflections annoying, they or a Apple Store tech can easily switch it for matte and vise versa.

    It's about hardware choice, something Apple needs to focus on more.

    • BJ in A town

      What about just using a matte screen protector on the glossy screens? Seems to me the glossy screen would make an excellent surface to stick to. Maybe you could even do it vice versa on the matte screens to make them glossy, although I'm not sure who would want to do that.

      • Egonyc

        the contact sheet are difficult to apply…bubbles, tapped dust, etc. the screen protector that sits on top of the screen dulls your picture. Glossy is good in a dark room.

  • BJ in A town

    What about just using a matte screen protector on the glossy screens? Seems to me the glossy screen would make an excellent surface to stick to. Maybe you could even do it vice versa on the matte screens to make them glossy, although I'm not sure who would want to do that.

  • i dunno wich to get i want both but can only choose 1 i have an asus eee pc at the moment lol

  • I have a shiny Macbook Pro bought in May of 2009, and I have a lot of trouble using it in any lit environment. If I had known, I would have waited for the matte screen. The shiny screen is absurd and spoils an otherwise decent and bright display. What were they thinking? I've commented about this in my own blog previously, and I'm still considering swapping for one of the newer matte screens, if I can afford it!

  • Vance Decker

    Is this some kind of a joke? …or are you a complete fool who should not be giving out computer advice. This post is completely absurd! Unfortunately, some people may actually believe you, so to set the record straight, there is no way that a screen would be compatible or incompatible with an OS, any OS, Windows, Mac, Linux, anything, because of whether or not the surface is matte or glossy.

  • Vance Decker

    Is this some kind of a joke? …or are you a complete fool who should not be giving out computer advice. This post is completely absurd! Unfortunately, some people may actually believe you, so to set the record straight, there is no way that a screen would be compatible or incompatible with an OS, any OS, Windows, Mac, Linux, anything, because of whether or not the surface is matte or glossy.

  • Lifestyles

    This is such a waste of time, it’s like someone giving advice without wanting to give it!

  • Alex

    I have both ( matte and glossy) laptops . I have to put down all dark blinds in my room so I will be able to use glossy one(no way to use outside!). I am going to sell glossy one and keep matte even though matte is much older. Glossy screen is just useless $900 mirror.

  • Kee Mason

    soporific hypnoses of MS and windows??
    I think Mac fanboys like you are pathetic whiny technophobes who just need to be ‘different’ … thinking the others are running with the herd … it’s just a larger herd than yours, you imbecile.
    I bet you luurrve the flash-less iPad too … hahahaha