Glossy vs Antiglare writeup *pics*

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Neil1138, Apr 7, 2011.

  1. Neil1138, Apr 7, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011

    Neil1138 macrumors regular

    Jan 21, 2008
    I'll try to be as unbiased as I can be, no guarantees though.


    Glossy - 2008 UMBP, 9C84 Glossy screen
    Antiglare - 2011 UMBP, 9CB7 HR AG screen

    Some background:

    I'm not a 'professional' editor/photographer/etc, I'm just a person who enjoys the occasional sexy pic time. To do this, I do appreciate proper color rendition. Before you harp on me for the cinema display... I could have bought a dell ultrasharp but you know, I like easy. I know the 27" ACD isn't perfect, mine is always a bit too warm or a bit too cool. I cannot calibrate it properly so I run it a bit on the cool side which is fine. Anyway, let's get to this comparison

    I've seen the massive Glossy vs. AG thread. Tons of you guys going back and forth about which one is better, which one looks nicer, how the bezel on the AG looks horrible. Well that's all personal preference. Let me tell you how I see it


    The blacks are deeper, richer, awesomer, etc which makes movies/videos look awesome. If you are sitting in a dark room, the glossy is great. Colors really 'pop', blacks are black and whites are what you would expect them to be (minus a magenta color cast I experience on mine).

    Glare? Yes it's horrible. These macbooks have super-gloss screens, no lie. The extra piece of glass that makes it this super-gloss increases contrast too much. That is why people who don't do any image corrections think it's nice. However, it tends to make blacks wayyy too black and kills detail in the highlights. While I owned only that macbook, glare didn't bother me very much. I would shift positions to get out of the sunlight/turn up the brightness to cut out the glare.


    This display is hard for me to comment on. In my opinion it is the superior display but it also has its caveats. You see a lot of people complain about the milky cast that develops when in direct sunlight? That does exist but in my opinion, it's not bad at all. Yes the colors on the antiglare are a bit 'muted' but really, that's an exaggeration. Antiglare is more accurate for color critical applications. Glossy oversaturates colors in editing. In laymen's terms: antiglare is more representative of what you will see in print, glossy overdoes the colors to get that 'pop.' Colors are really perfect on this display, whites are spot on and black are so-so. They are not deep like the glossy but they are acceptable.

    Some cons of the AG: The viewing angle is pretty bad on this screen. Through vertical viewing, the screen goes from a green cast (down low) to a magenta cast (up high). This is to be expected with all TN panels so I'm not overly concerned. In laymen's terms: Unless you are viewing the screen perfectly level, the dock might have a green color cast to it and window toolbars might have a magenta color cast to them. I make it sound bad but it's worth noting.


    Do I prefer a milky cast or glare? Milky cast by far. You'll see in the photos, glare is no fun.

    Which screen would I recommend? If you are a person that wants the richest colors and uses their display purely for entertainment (videos, movies, games, etc), I would get the glossy. It does present a bit more 'lively' color palette so it would obviously be the better display for your needs. I would recommend upgrading to the antiglare if you do any graphics work/color critical applications. I don't use my macbook 'in the field' for photography so the antiglare doesn't really play a part but I do use my macbook in harsh sunlight and it really does help to have an antiglare screen. When I'm at home, I'm using the cinema display exclusively but out and about, it's nice to have a screen that can perform up to par with my cinema display.

    Of course anyone making this decision should go see them in person but in my experience, both the color rendition and sharpness of the antiglare screen are a lot better than previous versions of the mbp (older generation mbp with AG screen). This UMBP antiglare screen is on par with the glossy and it does it without reflections. Unfortunately I don't have a HR Glossy screen to compare but hopefully the glossy/AG respect will be helpful to some. And of course there are always two sides to a story. Some people will always prefer the glossy screen but hey, this is just my simple review coming from a person who has worked with both.

    If I've switched around terms/messed something up, please let me know.








    More photos:

    My credentials:
  2. ozreth macrumors 65816


    Nov 5, 2009
    God I want one. Been trying to trade my glossy for an AG for awhile but no luck yet. One day. Nice pics.
  3. c7aea macrumors regular

    Oct 2, 2010
    Good write up and comparison. My 2008 MBP is a glossy screen but I have really gotten used to the matte finish of the ultrasharp. And the colors are noticeably better on AG screen in your pics. When it comes time to upgrade I will go with the AG screen! Thanks!
  4. mackage macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2011
    Good read, nice pics, and comparison. Although, shouldn't a true comparison be made between two hi-res screens?
  5. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    I'd prefer deeper blacks, brighter whites, sharper images, better color accuracy, black bezel, smooth, glossy screen over a milky whitish matte screen any day.
    Also, am I the only one who notices a grayish-yellow tint on the AG photos?
  6. daneoni macrumors G4


    Mar 24, 2006
    Agreed with the OP, the AG screen from last year and this year is really up there as one of the best MBP screens...ever. I thought i'd miss glossy/glassy screens but i haven't even blinked.

    The only screen superior is the 13" MBA screen.
  7. jayhawk11 macrumors 6502a


    Oct 19, 2007
    What type of desk is that? I dig it.
  8. xpcker macrumors regular

    Oct 25, 2010

    just hope more and more people convince themselves bout wich one they preffer and stop making silly tipocs, hope its gets pinned!!!!
  9. Neil1138 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 21, 2008
    You are partially correct. I would assume that the HR Glossy screen, though still a TN panel, would have better color accuracy than the stock glossy screen (I'm assuming it's a better panel in general). Unfortunately this is the best I could do. Hope the pictures at least show the difference between glossy and antiglare

    When calibrated (if calibration is perfect), glossy can have the same color accuracy as antiglare but TN panels can only go so far. A glossy IPS (cinema display for example) is going to achieve most all of the traits you've explained but a umbp glossy screen? Not in my experience

    Hmm, what screen are you viewing them on?

    Thanks! DIY Birch plywood from home depot, then coated with satin poly.
  10. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    I have accurately calibrated my display, so yes the colors are accurate on my glossy display. The pictures, however, show that the antiglare seems to have less backlight, more blur, whiter blacks, and other typical matte disadvantages. The antiglare also seems to have a yellowish tint, which shows the colors aren't as accurate as the glossy.
    Also, if you look closely, more detail can be seen on the glossy than the antiglare.
    UMBP Glossy Hi-res seems to be of a better quality than the 1440x900 cruddy small screen. It seems to have better color quality, which IMHO surpasses the antiglare by a long shot.

    Seriously, with a screen as bright as the glossy, does the glare really bother you enough to shell out another $50-150 on an antiglare screen? I'm using a glossy screen right now and I can barely see any reflections. Save your money, keep the glossy display, and buy some extra RAM or even optibay an SSD.
  11. dayinalife macrumors newbie


    Mar 20, 2011
    I'm glad you prefaced your comments with "no guarantees". :D

    Thank you for your "not quite so unbiased" post, but I still prefer the image quality and uniqueness of the glossy, despite its shortcomings. As with my purchase of a plasma TV... deep blacks, vivid colour, sharp detail and a wide viewing angle were more critical to me than an issue of a bit of reflection that can often be corrected. (i.e. closing blinds, placement of display, removable AG laptop screen)

    As you say though, it's all personal preference.

    Riddle me this: I can understand how an opaque piece of plastic can diffuse an image and diminish glare, but except for its reflective nature, how does a clear piece of glass (or two?) negatively impact image quality? Isn't glossy, in fact, a true image that hasn't been modified or distorted?


    ordered: Macbook Pro 17, 2.2 GHz, 4 GB RAM, 750 GB HD, Glossy
    retiring: Asus P4C 800 Deluxe, 2 GB DDR2, 120 GB HD, ATI 9700 Pro, SB Audigy 2, Win XP
  12. Prodo123 macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    Glossy is the most unaltered image. It represents the most accurate representation of an image. It's sharp, crisp, vibrant, and somewhat oversaturated (but can be fixed via calibration).
    Antiglare is the blurrier of the 3 screens. Everything appears whiter, even the colors and the blacks, due to the matte plastic scattering the light. This causes color inaccuracy, less sharper image (Not noticeably blurry), and the yellowish tint from the plastic that is used to make the screen matte, which can be somewhat fixed with calibration but never will be truly fixed.

    Glass is clearer than matte plastic, in color, texture, clarity and transparency. Therefore a glass screen gives better image quality.

    On the other hand, if you cannot handle the near nonexistant glare of a glossy screen, get a matte screen. The glare on the glossy is compensated for by the brightness the glass allows. This is why you are able to see an iPhone screen in broad daylight; it's bright as heck.

    I'll be sold on an etched-glass matte screen, one that is matte enough to get rid of the glare and is clear enough not to sacrifice the deep blacks and bright whites.
  13. dayinalife macrumors newbie


    Mar 20, 2011
    Okay, now it's all clear to me... or should I say "glossy"? :D

    ordered: Macbook Pro 17, 2.2 GHz, 4 GB RAM, 750 GB HD, Glossy
    retiring: Asus P4C 800 Deluxe, 2 GB DDR2, 120 GB HD, ATI 9700 Pro, SB Audigy 2, Win XP
  14. c7aea macrumors regular

    Oct 2, 2010

    Well now I guess I am not so sure again :/

    Does it have more to do with who makes the screen for apple rather then the finish on the screen?
    To my eyes, from the pics, the AG looks better in this example. But it is a very limited color example.
    I did calibrate my 2008 17" glossy MBP screen today with the Spyder Calibration 3. I must say it does look much nicer, nicer then I have ever done with manual calibration. However, it still seems like it is lacking.
    Oh well I guess it is just the nature of these types of screens. But I have never found my glossy screen to be a problem in terms of glare.
  15. mackage macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2011
    Don't forget that the AG in the example is Hi-Res....
  16. Neil1138, Apr 7, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2011

    Neil1138 thread starter macrumors regular

    Jan 21, 2008
    If you are at a tilted viewing angle, TN displays will shift in color, that's just their nature (antiglare and glossy alike). If you are referencing a photo where the antiglare is at an angle, then of course there might be a yellow cast. Look at the photo above the one you are referencing (2nd/3rd from the bottom), notice how the glossy/antiglare switch having a warm(yellow)/cool(blue) cast depending on which side I'm standing on. I can't really speak for sharpness (HR antiglare vs. HR glossy). I wish I had a HR glossy to compare... unfortunately I don't :eek:

    Other than over saturation, boosted contrast and glare, glossy is really no different than an antiglare panel. The extra piece of glass merely makes everything look prettier for the laymen but pretty does not equal accurate. If you get both screens to be absolutely color accurate for print, would you rather have a milky cast or glare on the screen? That's what it really comes down to IF you can get that TN glossy screen calibrated well... If you even care for color accuracy that is. If you want a great display for entertainment (movies, games, etc), then definitely go for the gloss!

    Both screens are at full brightness in all of those photos but the last one... I can see plenty of glare at full brightness and I wasn't even outside in direct sunlight :confused:
  17. shot2bits macrumors member

    Mar 1, 2011
    United Kingdom
    Appears to me that there are some real trade-offs with the anti-glare. The image on the glossy looks to show deeper colours and generally more vibrant. I also don't like the silver surround since it would distract me but guessing others might not have that problem.

    I can see why you'd go with the anti-glare as the reflections are bad on the glossy display but not distracting enough to make me go for the anti-glare screen. In reality both a good displays - if you have an issue with reflections then the decision is obvious.
  18. Yellow 13 macrumors member

    Mar 26, 2011
    i'm planning for a new 2011 MBP which should i take (the games i normally play is PvZ, COD BO [W7], and Minecraft.) and i use my mac for normal work, no color-intensive ones

    Antiglare is like normal (default) screen right? (ok to tough screen)
    And Glossy is the one with the glass cover? (not ok to touch screen)

    and Glossy is like MBA's? (2011)

    or is it vice versa?
  19. corvus32 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 4, 2009
    I had an anti-glare screen, and it was just as unusable outdoors as any other screen.

    I believe you're just trying to justify the extra $150 you spent. At the end of the day, it's just another TN panel and neither is more "color accurate" than the other.
  20. Apple 26.2 macrumors 6502a

    Apple 26.2

    Jan 1, 2011
    What up, 212?!
    That's funny... I find the colors noticeably better on the glossy screen.

    OP: Good, fair write-up... well done.
  21. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    Is anyone seriously trying to say you can compare the colour accuracy of 2 LCD screens from photos when the colour of the photo you're seeing is dependent on:

    • The colour accuracy of the camera used to take the photo
    • The colour depth of the file you're viewing
    • Your monitor's colour accuracy?

    As for the people saying one screen is slightly sharper than the other, have you ever heard of depth of field? At a relatively wide aperture (as was likely used in an indoor shot in relatively poor light, although I can't see the EXIF data for these shots on Flickr) it's really unlikely that both screens will be perfectly in focus as the depth of field will be low.

    These sorts of comparisons are very useful for the degree of reflection on the 2 screens, but that's about it. Go and look at them with your own eyes if you want to judge the colour and sharpness.
  22. ender land macrumors 6502a

    Oct 26, 2010
    Some thoughts:

    Most of your pictures are taken at enough of an angle that it is a useless comparison - 99.9% of the time I am using my computer I am looking straight at it. How the colors/screen varies or looks at an angle (even a relatively small one) away from the screen is largely irrelevant to me, so all your comparison pictures make it really hard to compare the computers in normal use - I never use my MBP at an angle so it doesn't matter at all how the colors look from that perspective. All that matters to me (and realistically should for most users) is the straight on shot.

    A second problem the angled shot makes is that the MBPs are not going to be equally focused by the camera, which means you will have some slight issues with one being out of focus compared to the other. Not a huge difference but looking at these pictures intently as a comparison between two relatively similar screens means this sort of thing is a huge issue. You can easily see this when looking at the keyboards and the clarity of the letters on the keys.

    Not sure what camera you used either but it's possible the screens are more accurate than the camera is or that you get some weird interactions between the camera/screen since the screen is refreshing.

    I'm assuming both computers are at native resolutions? It looks like the anti-glare is a high res and the glossy is not. This probably will have some effect on perception of screen quality too because your camera is likely not getting a full sample of all the pixels on each screen (ie some ridiculous resolution camera like 10,000x10,000 pixels) which likely means the high-res is "missing" a higher percentage of its pixels in all the shots you give. For example, if you take a higher res picture and put it next to a lower res picture on the same screen, like your shot of the car picture on flikr, and back up - there will be a point where the high-res looks fuzzier or less crisp before the low-res, simply because of pixel density.

    All in all, this is a good effort, but like alFR said, the best way to make this determination for yourself is to actually use computers with each display and compare them that way. Too many uncontrollable factors when viewing pictures from a camera of displays on an additional display.
  23. selvage macrumors member

    Mar 8, 2011
    i wish they made the AG with a black non glossy bezel. it would make it look better
  24. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I've used both and come to the conclusion that its completely personal preference.

    While some photographers will state matte is the way to go because of accurate color, other photographers will state that after calibrating the display, its just as accurate in fact more so because you dont have a anti-glare filter altering how the light is reflected.

    There is no better choice only which one suits your needs.
  25. arcite macrumors 6502a


    Sep 6, 2009
    Cairo, trapped in a pyramid with my iphone
    From a usability standpoint AG is definitely the winner--- especially if one has to stare at their screen for 10 hours a day in an office setting. On the other hand, why doesn't apple use IPS screens yet?

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