Glossy vs Matte LCDs: The Great Display Debate

By Matthew Braga

Display lovers have a choice: glossy or matte. But what's the difference? There's a few things to keep in mind when picking an LCD screen, but sometimes, it just comes down to what you like best.

Who would've thought that computing's greatest enemy wouldn't be viruses or spam mail, but the sun? At least, that's how it feels when you expose a glossy LCD screen to light. An errant lamp or an open window is all it takes to render that laptop or tablet of yours near unusable. But not everyone feels that way, of course; some live and die by the glossy screen, while others can't survive without their matte. Both offer distinctly different viewing experiences, but like cake or pie, it often comes down to what you like best.



Side-by side: Matte vs. Glossy in sunlight. 
debilitating in the case of Apple's MacBook Pro models.

This gives you a clearer idea of what you gain and lose with each — a better all-purpose screen versus increased saturation and contrast. It's for this reason that you'll often find anti-glare matte screens as the display of choice office environments, where placement is far less flexible, and multiple light sources are almost guaranteed. What's important to remember, however, is that both a glossy and matte use identical LCD display panels — the only differing factor is which coating is used. Under controlled circumstances, both screens will perform almost exactly the same. The one you choose is largely a matter of personal preference.

Indoors, the glossy can still reflect a great deal of light. 
alternate methods and coatings that can greatly reduce the amount of reflection produced by glossy screens. And it's a trick learned from moths. The insects have nano-sized bumps within their eyes that prevent them from reflecting light, making them invisible to predators. The same process could be applied to HDTVS and even smaller displays to make them more readable, particularly in ambient or direct lighting. Sony claims its technology reduces reflection to about 1/30th of normal levels, and even boosts light in the process. Apple should take note; those are just the kind of improvements glossy MacBook Pro owners would love. 

Which do you prefer? Glossy or matte screens? Let us know below! 
  
Imgages via StrongMocha, Engadget, Flickr user
chailey.