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Picture: MacBook Pro Glossy vs. Matte FIGHT!

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 38 comments

When Apple unveiled its new aluminum MacBook and MacBook Pro last October, we were impressed by the hardware. The unibody construction, massive buttonless glass trackpad and Nvidia chipset were all things that added up to an impressive piece of kit.

One thing that we weren’t sure of right away was the glass-covered display. While we’ve come to accept that today’s LCD displays, particularly on notebooks, are mostly of the glossy variety, Apple took it a step further with a glass sheet on top of what already appears to be a glossy LCD screen. The affect is an unsettling double-reflection from a display that’s mirror-like.

We’ve spent a considerable amount of time with the full range of Apple notebook displays, from the matte and glossy from the previous generation MacBook Pro to the “glassy” unibody MacBook. And we’ll be the first say that the aesthetic designs of the new unibody MacBooks are worthy of a museum, but in terms of usability, the glass-covered screen is a pain to work with even when indoors.

Clearly, Apple has heard our cries and for that reason is now offering a matte option for its new 17-inch MacBook Pro, which will probably spread to the 15-inch version. But maddeningly, what used to be a no-charge option for a matte display now costs $50. No one’s happy with that, but Apple probably knows that those who care about having a matte display would be willing to pay.

Engadget got its hands on one of the first 17-inch MacBook Pros with the matte display. Check out the picture below for a side-by-side comparison with a 15-inch unibody.
If it weren’t immediately obvious, the matte screen has the aluminum border around the frame, which some feel looks a little odd. I’ve gotten used to the all-black borders, but Jane, our news editor, said that the notebook is even better with the matching trim. Even if Macs don’t interest you, Apple has a strong influence on the notebooks that PC makers design, so sound off with your opinion in the comments!

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  • 9 Hide
    tayb , February 26, 2009 1:05 PM
    I will always take a Matte display over a glossy display until it is no longer an option. Glossy displays look great IF you have good lighting but lighting is almost NEVER in your control. At the office with the fluorescent lighting, in the classroom with the fluorescent lighting, or outdoors the glossy display is awful at any brightness setting besides 100%.

    Wish Apple would have offered the matte display on the 15" Pro. As much as I like matte displays I'm not about to spend $3,000 just to have one with an Apple logo on it.
  • 5 Hide
    grieve , February 26, 2009 2:21 PM
    I have never understood why notebooks have gone towards the glossy finish. I too prefer a matte finish.
  • 3 Hide
    SAL-e , February 26, 2009 2:55 PM
    grieveI have never understood why notebooks have gone towards the glossy finish. I too prefer a matte finish.


    Because the laptop enter the "mainstream" and for most people the laptop is status item. It has to look good before it works good. Anyone that actually does any real job with notebook will select matte screen, especially if you value your eyesight. Would be funny, after some time someone will have a bright idea for quick cash by suing computer manufactures for ruing their eyesight. :) 
  • -1 Hide
    pbrigido , February 26, 2009 3:51 PM
    It is all a matter of personal preference. I like the glossy and would purchase it over a matte. However, if I would be using it in an environment that is less that ideal for a glossy screen, I would opt for a matte...as I hope others would.
  • 0 Hide
    jsloan , February 26, 2009 3:59 PM
    wow. sucks. i bet apple folk will say we don't understand and just how great it is. :->
  • 9 Hide
    jsloan , February 26, 2009 4:01 PM
    TomsSucksMoreThanEverWho gives a crap? Why are we comparing the mac glossy versus the mac matte? What a stupid article, glossy vs matte has been discussed a million times before no need to recognize it as anything different when a mac computer has it as well.


    i think your wrong. i find it very helpful. if someone now comes by and asks i can point them to the posting and i can warn them before they throw out their hard earned money. also the negative press puts pressure on apple to fix the problem.
  • 4 Hide
    Anonymous , February 26, 2009 4:19 PM
    Glossy is great, but not if it purposely has been created to be glossy.
    Glossy screens have the absence of fuzzyness. they have a sharp contrast, but they also have reflection.
    There's no way I'll buy a screen with an extra mirror like glass substrate in front of it, that will reduce the sharpness of the screen, and at the same time increase glossyness.
    That's like adding 2 bad properties on top of each other!

    Then again, Apple's never been my thing, so I couldn't care less what they will produce. It's just that some manufacturers abuse salespower. I hope many will have the common sense to turn back to regular pc's or laptops.
  • 5 Hide
    skittle , February 26, 2009 4:29 PM
    $50 for a matte screen? for something that should be standard!
    where are the law suits?
  • 2 Hide
    dezonio2 , February 26, 2009 4:49 PM
    Matte should be a no contest, as an owner of a MBP with a matte screen I know how much superior those screens are. I borrowed my buddy's glossy-screen laptop and after a few hours my eyes were sore and I couldn't figure out why right away... In bright places I can't see anything on glossy screens. Worst of all this looks-before-functionality disease is spreading to desktop monitors as well.

    Hey Apple, Lenovo makes some great workstation notebooks, faster, more configurable and with matte screens for less
  • 2 Hide
    dezonio2 , February 26, 2009 4:51 PM
    maakselGlossy >> Matte/thread


    Because making a statement without any support ending with "/thread" always earns you an internet win, bravo.
  • 1 Hide
    seboj , February 26, 2009 5:24 PM
    dezonio2Because making a statement without any support ending with "/thread" always earns you an internet win, bravo.


    Dogs >> Cats

    /thread
  • 0 Hide
    scryer_360 , February 26, 2009 5:31 PM
    Oh thank god, at first I thought I'd have to suffer through the glossy display. I sometimes help film outdoor activities for a friends company: we've done everything for little league games to a assistant film crew on documentaries in Africa. And we don't always have the ability to send the video back to a studio for editing before we determine if we need to redo a shot or do an entirely new one. Outside, when there is sun, glossy screens can make it really hard to do the job right. One of the staffers has the 15 inch MBP unibody, and whenever we use his we've been having to hold a tarp up above us and over the computer to block the sunlight.

    Which is why most of the company kept its old MBPs when the new ones came out: we just needed the screens to work, and glossy doesn't work.

  • 0 Hide
    TheZander , February 26, 2009 5:32 PM
    It SUCKS that Apple is going to charge more. But you know what sucks WORSE? That people will pay the extra. Maybe if people who really wanted matte simply refused to buy the computer until it was exactly what they wanted (they could buy refurbs or just NOT buy a Mac.... imagine that.) Apple would offer it for the same price.

    "Dear Apple fans who don't want the extra sheet of glass - even though we don't need to put glass on your Mac and it will reduce production costs, we are going to charge you $50 extra because we know you're willing to pay it. Thanks for the extra money. We need all we can get."

    Maybe, it costs more, I don't know. But it's stupid. Matte is most definitely better in some situations. I'm typing by a window on my glossy screen, and it's tough to see with the reflections from the outside. I would much rather have matte, but you just about can't buy a good matte screen anymore.
  • 0 Hide
    theuerkorn , February 26, 2009 6:37 PM
    Pure marketing, as the glossy generates less scattered environment light than the glossy and ultimately looks richer for the darker colors. When monitors and TVs are viewed in the typically dark store corners, the reflections aren't as obvious but the color difference would be. Hence, manufacturers do what sells best.

    I hated glossy from the beginning, as it requires that you're in basically a dark room with little to no light especially behind you. Otherwise you're basically in every movie or application, staring at yourself when the screen turns darker. Forget about "playing" outside too. Glossy has become a bit better over time with semi-glossy AR coatings but still I prefer matte even if my first ViewSonic was a bit aggressive and the scattered light brightened dark sections significantly under bright light. My current Samsung (XL20) is near perfect for a matte finish.
  • 0 Hide
    jsloan , February 26, 2009 6:48 PM
    skittle$50 for a matte screen? for something that should be standard!where are the law suits?


    that's an old sales trick to get higher price, what you do is give what does not sell as default and ask for a slightly higher price for what people want. people fall for it all the time and pay more. dell does the same thing, they give you the drive that they need to get rid of as the default, and then they ask you for the full price for the one that they would really have given you, notice they don't give you credit for the memory, drive that you replaced.
  • 8 Hide
    grieve , February 26, 2009 7:19 PM
    TomsSucksMoreThanEverWho gives a crap? Why are we comparing the mac glossy versus the mac matte? What a stupid article, glossy vs matte has been discussed a million times before no need to recognize it as anything different when a mac computer has it as well.

    haha holy buddy, if you hate toms F**k off, don't let the door hit you in the A**
  • 0 Hide
    eddieroolz , February 26, 2009 9:16 PM
    I have no choice with my laptop, a HP dv4, but at least its display is halfway between the matte and glossy on the Macbook. In other words, its liveable with. I'd take a matte any day though.
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