To Gloss or Not to Gloss?

I’m about to replace my G4 laptop with a 15″ Macbook Pro. And I’m torn about the screen. This will be a general purpose computer — email & web, word processing, some editing and still photography (using a second monitor when possible).

I’ve looked at the glossy and matte screens pretty carefully. Glossy seems sharper and I tend to like it better — but if you have a light source behind your head, you see reflections clearly. For editing, glossy makes video look more like a TV, and thus more appealing, but for stills it seems almost too sharp and edgy.

Does anybody here have experience with the new glossy screens on the Macbook Pros? What do you think? Better or worse?

Explore posts in the same categories: Laptop Editing

12 Comments on “To Gloss or Not to Gloss?”

  1. Norman Says:

    I’ve now got the 17″ Macbook Pro and love it. I also love the matte screen, as it seems to hold up well in all light situations (well, almost all light situations — I still can’t see worth a damn in bright light, but that would happen on flatbeds as well). I’ve never worked on a glossy screen, though I have to say that I see plenty of students at USC who have them, and they’re working outside using the school’s ubiquitous wireless.

    So… I have NO idea.

  2. Robert Harmon Says:

    Hey, Steve…

    Go matte. It’s simple: if you can’t control the environment in which you’ll be using the thing, you almost have no choice. The glossy screen will drive you crazy in too many lighting situations. I’ve never owned a glossy screen, but I did research this pretty heavily before buying my 17″ MBP.

    Lastly, once you stop doing side-by-side “glossy vs. matte” comparisons, the matte looks great. In other words, in a side by side comparison in a controlled environment, the glossy will win every time, but how much of your time is going to be spent in a controlled environment?

    I’ll stop now.


  3. Martin Baker Says:

    Big vote for glossy here. Maybe I’m really lucky but I just don’t have problems with reflections at all. The image quality is noticeably better compared to my old Powerbook G4.

  4. colao Says:

    I’d have to say go with the matte. A co-worker of mine bought the glossy mac book pro and promptly returned it for a matte screen. She is an editor and wanted the ability to work “on the go”. Even in an edit suite she was unhappy with the glossy.

  5. Bruce Says:

    I use both glossy and matte screens. I much prefer the matte screen for editing. The glossy is very nice, straight on and in the correct light, but I much prefer the matte overall.

  6. Steve Says:

    Well, so far, in our very unscientific survey here, matte wins handily. But I have to say that I went to the Apple store and played with them extensively, with the same images on each, and that glossy screen is much sharper. I never work with light sources behind my head anyway — can’t stand it with any kind of screen. Jeez. Hard to decide.

  7. Robert Harmon Says:

    Hey, Steve…

    Please forgive one last desperate comment: It’s not just ‘light sources behind your head” that cause trouble with glossy screens. The problem is that the screen itself is so reflective that you see anything that’s illuminated in the reflective angle of that screen. If you have light falling on you, the wall behind you, the bookcase on the back wall, the light leaks around the windows, the recessed lights in the ceiling (specular stuff is the worst!) etc., you see all that stuff in the glossy screen. “Lights behind your head,” is the least of the problems — it’s the illuminated ‘stuff’ in the room that causes the real headaches!


  8. Doug Says:

    Add my vote for glossy … Been using a glossy MacBook for almost a year. Much better image and color.

  9. Steve Says:

    Well, I went with the matte. The glossy certainly looks distinctly better (and sharper) in the right lighting conditions, but I finally decided that I’ve been using a matte screen for years without problems. A good friend, who bought a glossy PC laptop and loved it for awhile, now tells me that he had to order blinds for his new office. That tipped the scales for me. I’m a freelancer and I move around a lot. Couldn’t risk it.

    The new machine rocks, by the way. Much faster than the 1.5 Ghz G4 that it replaced. Based on benchmarks, it’s a bit faster than a dual-core G5.

  10. Here is my review of matte vs. glossy laptop screens side by side. I clearly prefer the matte screen for working in daylight conditions. The glare on glossy screens can be distracting at the least. At worst, you simply can’t see the screen, as the photos in my review show.

  11. Sean Matheson Says:

    I have both matte and glossy in my household, definatly matte all the way, glossy looks good in a dark room or when there is no light shining on it, but when I put them side by side the obvious choice is matte.
    I can’t believe I forked out another $30 to have the glossy screen on my Dell laptop in the first place!

Leave a Reply to Martin Baker Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: