Yet Another Antiglare vs Gloss Thread (17")

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ScottishCaptain, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. ScottishCaptain macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    I was at the Apple store today. They had an antiglare unit out along with the glossy. Both were 2.66ghz. Luckily, they happened to be right across from each other on the demo desks, so I asked if I could stick them together and they said "sure, go ahead".

    I'm NOT asking which is better. I've already made up my mind. I'm simply posting here what I personally observed over the period of spending ~15 minutes with each machine checking out the various pros and cons, with both machines side-beside. I couldn't get any pictures (didn't bring my dSLR), but I did manage to run them through a battery of tests (Aperture 2, Quake 4, Safari Browsing, etc).

    2.66ghz 17" UMBP glossy Display Model: 9C99
    2.66ghz 17" UMBP antiglare Display Model: 9CAC

    1) Colors

    The colors on the gloss looked much more vibrant then the antiglare. They didn't seem over saturated, but appeared to generally be more accurate then the antiglare, which seemed slightly washed out. I don't believe "pop" is the correct term to describe the glossy LCD, but everything seemed to have quite a bit more "depth" to it. Sort of how the icons on my iPhone 3G "appear" more colorful then those of my 23" Cinema.

    I noticed no over saturation or obscure color issues that would make me say "blah". IMHO, the 9C99 glossy LCD is better then the 9CAC antiglare when it comes to reproducing colors.

    2) Sharpness

    Some people seem to suggest that the antiglare is sharper then the gloss. I do not believe this to be the case. At ~4ft from both screens (at the same angle, and same lighting condition)- the glossy screen looked quite a bit sharper then the antiglare. At ~1ft, they both appeared to be the same (though at that distance I can see the pixels, and, well, pixels look like pixels). The biggest issue I noticed while these units were side-beside was that the glossy screen took my eyes a second to adjust and "focus" in on the display and /not/ the reflections (which where there- but significantly drowned out by my black coat). This was not the case on the antiglare, my eyes immediately focused on the LCD surface itself and not the background commotion. This might give the impression that the antiglare is sharper then the gloss.

    Personally, I think the glossy screen appears more sharp as there's no diffuse surface over the LCD. Light emitted from the screen travels outwards unaffected (since the surface is smooth), whereas I'm sure the etching on the antiglare tends to dither the light being emitted slightly. At ~4ft reading the /same/ Safari page (slashdot) on both laptops, with the Safari window the same size and position on the desktop- despite taking a second to let my eyes figure out what was going on with the glossy display and the reflections, I found the glossy display was indeed sharper then the antiglare.

    3) Glare

    Yeah. It's there.

    I don't know what to say. As I mentioned above, I find myself focusing in on the reflections rather then the LCD surface behind the glass panel. You get used to it after a few seconds. I happened to be wearing a black coat at the time, so the reflections were greatly cut down by the black void my coat produced while standing infront of the glossy LCD. Frankly, the ambient lighting didn't bother me that much. While the screen was powered on at full brightness, it was very usable even with the screen angled to reflect the ceiling lights (which didn't appear /that/ bright in the reflection).

    The antiglare is, well, antiglare. Same as the 30" Cinema sitting behind me at the time. No reflection. Eyes focus on the LCD screen image immediately. No problems there.

    4) Light bleed

    For this, I asked the salesman if I could drape my coat over the computer to block out the ambient lighting (my coat is at least 0.5" thick- a winter coat, with multiple layers of thick material... Believe me, nothing gets through that thing in terms of light). Obviously they said yes, so long as this wasn't some sort of disappearing laptop magic trick... So I threw up a solid black image on the screen and took a look at both the laptops.

    The glossy display, despite being ridiculously bright in a nearly pitch-black environment, had zero color bleed. There was a slight, *VERY* slight effect at the bottom of the screen that disappeared if I angled the display slightly. I didn't think much of it. My Cinema LCD at home exhibits something similar.

    The antiglare, was another story. I pretty much saw the exact effect posted elsewhere on this forum- large, wavy like shapes in the black background. When I inquired to as why this was occurring on the 9CAC antiglare display with the salesman, they hadn't heard of it or were aware of any such issues with the antiglare.

    Regardless, glossy wins here. The screen was dark, and extremely uniform. The antiglare? Not so much.

    5) Structural strength

    This was a simple test. Pinch both corners of the top of the LCD, and torque it a *little* bit.

    Evidentially, the antiglare torqued much more easily then the glossy did. The glossy screen had a serious "spring" to it- it still torqued, but it had a stronger "return" strength as it tried to straighten itself out. This feeling was not present in the antiglare, which just sort of torqued, and felt like it would continue to torque if I applied more pressure.

    I'm assuming this is due to the very simple fact that the glossy has a glass panel bolted to the front of it, and the antiglare does not (just the aluminum border- and we all know how soft aluminum can be). Regardless, the glossy felt like it could withstand some abuse (short of dropping it), whereas the antiglare felt like a much more fragile display- like the display on the old MBP 17" units (the displays that were commonly known for bowing while latched, just because of the display hinge springs).

    Either way, I can honestly say that /both/ laptops felt a hell of a lot better and solid then my last 17" MBP in terms of display rigidity.

    6) Backlight

    Easy. Crank both LCD's to full brightness.

    The glossy screen looked no brighter then the 15" sitting next to it. It wasn't blindingly bright under the store's ambient light, definitely on par or brighter then the demo 30" Cinema. The antiglare, however, seemed to lack the backlight strength that made the glossy "look good" under the ambient overheads. It looked slightly washed out, and quite a bit dimmer then the gloss or the 30" Cinema. Side beside, it was *extremely* noticeable.

    So just to recap...

    Glossy Pros:
    - Vibrant Colors
    - Stronger backlight
    - Higher structural rigidity
    - Glass protecting the soft LCD surface

    Glossy Cons:
    - Reflections
    - Eyes might tend to focus in on the "sharp" background reflections

    Antiglare Pros:
    - No reflections, eyes focus instantly on the LCD

    Antiglare Cons:
    - Washed out colors
    - Dim backlight
    - Less structural rigidity
    - Directly exposed LCD surface, could be prone to damage or scratching

    I'm going with the gloss. No doubt about it.

    If you can't make up your mind, go see one in person. Staring at pictures on the internet isn't going to show you much, since you're looking at pictures of a monitor on /another/ monitor... Sort of redundantly useless, if you ask me. Frankly, the glossy can be angled to produce a brutal reflection, or it can be angled properly- like you'd be staring at it if you were using the laptop, in which case the reflections are definitely bearable.

    Hope this helps someone. Gloss isn't as bad as everyone seems to be attacking it.

  2. 212rikanmofo macrumors 68000

    Jan 31, 2003
  3. simonpickard macrumors regular

    Mar 1, 2009
    I've just ordered a Matte screen version, and I'm not so sure I should have based on this review.

    What I can't work out is, if it's basically the same screen on the glossy and matte how can the light bleed be so much worse on the matte? Is this just a one off do you think or is it effecting all matte MBPs?

    If any of you out there with Matte versions could speak up I'd be most grateful. How are you finding your matte screens? Do you wish you'd gone with a glossy?

    And of course any pics would be great!! :)

  4. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    Excellent review. I thought this was going to be another of THOSE glossy vs. matte threads.
  5. laughingperson5 macrumors 6502

    Jan 2, 2009
    I'm soooo gonna pick glossy.
    But now the new question for me.
    MacBook Air or MacBook Pro OR iMac
    stupid upgrades
  6. kanon14 macrumors regular


    Jan 28, 2008
    Hong Kong
    very good review. I went with the 15" and I'm very happy at the glossy screen
  7. ScottishCaptain thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    > What I can't work out is, if it's basically the same screen...

    It's not the same screen.

    The antiglare is a 9CAC, made by Samsung.

    The glossy is a 9C99, made by LG (?) or Samsung (can't remember). They are very different screens.

    I believe the glossy screen is "gloss" all the way through- glass panel, AND the outermost layer of the LCD screen... Whereas the antiglare lacks the glass panel completely, and the actual LCD screen itself is etched to diffuse reflections. Two completely different parts.

    > MacBook Air or MacBook Pro OR iMac...

    Macbook Pro. It's the most upgradable of the three, and it's portable.

    If you don't need portability, get an iMac. Just don't expect to update the HD in that thing without some /serious/ troubles (whereas, it's easy on the UMBP 15/17" units). They are more powerful then the UMBP though in some cases.

  8. simonpickard macrumors regular

    Mar 1, 2009
    So the basic light bleed of the matte panel is higher than the glossy version?
    I wish I could see one of these matte screens. Our apple store in Sydney doesn't have any which is a shame.

    I can't understand why Apple would release a matte screen- which is aimed at high end designers, photo editors, etc, unless it was great quality.

    I'm hoping that the comments here are isolated and not all matte screens share the issues.

  9. ScottishCaptain thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    What little light that does get through the glossy is basically uniform. The screen is pretty darned black.

    The light that gets through the antiglare, as I saw on display today, was *not* uniform and had several large, wavy like things that were clearly visible on a black image. IDK if this applies to all antiglares, or only some.

    I'm not sure why Apple released the matte screen the way they did. I would have rather preferred they just swapped the gloss glass overlay for an overlay that's etched, rather then pulling out the entire panel and replacing it with a thin aluminum border.

  10. vocalcity macrumors newbie

    Nov 13, 2008
    Thanks for the great comparison, ScottishCaptain.

    Did you happen to compare the 17" screens against the 15" screens, and if how any observations on how they compare?
  11. Nikos macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2008
    New York
    Great comparison here. I have the glossy version and, while I still haven't seen the matte version in person, those are the exact pros/cons I was expecting from both. I've only used this in my house so far, but I haven't had any reflection issues yet. Really glad I went with the glossy version.
  12. reetcher macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2007
    Tell me in your very scientific color comparison did you happen to use any calibration hardware to see if there was any trouble calibrating the glossy screen? Do you even know (did you test?) if the colors you were viewing on screen were accurate to the digital file, how about the tones? How about angle of view?

    Great another Apple Fanboy who wants to make a loud post without any supportive matterial other than it looked better in the store. At one point people respected Macs now they just snicker, & mainly because of posts such as yours. thanks
  13. ajohnson253 macrumors 68000


    Jun 16, 2008
    Good stuff.

    I also found the colors more vibrant on the Glossy. Thus resulting in why I chose my 15" glossy.
  14. gilesrulz macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2008
    Basing a computer buying decision from this post would be woefully ill-informed.
  15. ScottishCaptain thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    > Tell me in your very scientific color comparison did you happen to use any calibration hardware to see if there was any trouble calibrating the glossy screen?

    I didn't have my i1 with me at the time. I would assume that there could be issues calibrating on a reflective surface.

    > Do you even know (did you test?) if the colors you were viewing on screen were accurate to the digital file, how about the tones? How about angle of view?

    Again, I didn't have my dSLR on me, nor did I bring along my calibrator (an i1, part of the i1Xtreme kit). I couldn't exactly ask the apple store to kill the lights, and standing around for 30 minutes occasionally draping my coat over the laptops was pushing my nerd factor pretty high at the time. All I said was that the antiglare looked washed out compared to the glossy. For that fact; the Cinema looked better then the antiglare (it was /quite/ a bit brighter).

    > Great another Apple Fanboy who wants to make a loud post without any supportive matterial other than it looked better in the store. At one point people respected Macs now they just snicker, & mainly because of posts such as yours. thanks

    No problem mate. I'm just trying to be helpful. And I appreciate you taking the time out of your day to post another snide remark on some random Apple forum. I'm sure the reason why people snicker partly has to do with this sort of attitude. I'm simply offering my opinion, people can make up their own damned minds. I had a chance to compare both models side by side today, so I did. And I took the time to post my (possibly) crude findings. If you don't like Apple's current offerings, don't post here. Go buy something else and complain on the equivalent fanboy forum.

    I haven't seen you contribute to this forum in a similar method. You're in danger of falling under the definition of "troll".

    > Basing a computer buying decision from this post would be woefully ill-informed.

    Then what would be informed? Going and seeing the laptops in person would be informed. If you have any information that you'd like to share otherwise, please do.

    If I'm completely mistaken here, and you have evidence that proves my accused buffoonery, please speak up. I'm only trying to help people here make up their minds. I've waded through the floods of "antiglare versus glossy" posts, and sofar I've seen no definitive observations or "scientific" evidence that suggests one display is better then the other. I was only trying to offer my decisions based on what I saw with both laptops infront of me.

    This thread is in danger of becoming another monkey-flinging-poo fight between "Pros" and "Noobies". I'm not going to provoke either side. If people want to ask questions, I'll try my best to answer them. If you're not going to contribute to the thread at hand, don't post at all. Period. There's a reason why a lot of people can't get the answers they need on Apple equipment these days, it's because the forums are clogged with meaningless, non-helpful posts.

  16. capriseyhaze macrumors regular


    Mar 3, 2009
    now thats a hater statement
  17. danielnr87 macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2009
    I ordered the 2.93, 7200RPM and the Anti-glare screen.

    When it arrived it came with a Glossy screen on it?!?
    The serial numbers matched and reckoned that it had a Matte Screen in the Spec... They had put the wrong screen on in the production line??!!!? Idiots.

    I'm currently a PC user and I have a 19" matte screen. I love it.

    The glossy screen on the MBP was sooo, reflective I found it difficult not to find the glare annoying, I personally do not like working in dark conditions, but if the curtains were open, I got GLARE. Also, if you are not directly in front of the Macbook Pro, the glare becomes very severe and the 'viewing angle' is completely lost. Yes the screen had rich colours and good blacks, but I felt like they were unrealistic. I also found myself trying harder to look at the glossy screen than my matte PC monitor, and after a full day of work, i'm sure I would have gotten a headache

    I came across the dilemma as Apple offered me £100 to keep the Glossy...I then compared the glossy against my PC monitor and decided it just had to go back...I would rather have it slightly duller or 'washed out' screen which was easy on the eyes, than a glossy screen with 'fantastic' colour but annoyed me on a daily basis.

    If you constantly live in a cave then the glossy is for you.

    Otherwise I would recommend Matte.

    I will comment more after another 3 week wait....
  18. MagicWok macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2006
    Wha??? lol - now that's a first, I don't recall anyone saying matte was sharper than gloss. The overiding argument is the complete opposite.

    Good luck with your purchase - you'll be glad you made your own conclusions and got the model that fit you. It's all about having the choice in the first place ;)

    Oh, and matte isn't as bad as everyone seems to be attacking it either :p
  19. Kronie macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2008
    Great comaparison.

    Think of the glossy as the windshield in your car. Your eye can easily focus on the road ahead, or on the bug plastered to the glass......:D
  20. drlunanerd macrumors 68000


    Feb 14, 2004
    Good review.
    Although your comments about colour accuracy are worthless as you didn't calibrate both displays.

    For most aspects I actually prefer the glossy:
    1. More durable and scratch-resistant
    2. Smoother and sharper image (I hate matte screens that have a speckly crust of anti-glare coating - Apple are a persistent offender with this).

    But the major downside of course is glare from light reflections. Adding the glass front has made this worse.

    If Apple added a multi-coating to the glass, like CRT monitors of yesteryear, it would help reduce glare enormously. Yes it wouldn't be as durable and would be harder to clean, but I think we could then have our glossy cake and eat it :)
  21. davehutch macrumors 6502a


    Mar 5, 2009
    Croxley, Herts
    Useful post, at least for me anyway...

    ...can you tell me what settings you checked to ensure both laptops were as equal as possible? I understand there are automatic backlight adjustments, contrast control, colour profiles etc.
    It would be good to know if these were identical.

    What else do you know about the panels from LG and Samsung? are they the same bit depth and what technology do they use, TN or *-IPS?

    Any info you have would be appreciated (obviously not by everyone though)
  22. derek1984 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 5, 2008
    Thank you for this very helpful post. I will be buying a MBP in a couple weeks and I am trying to decide between matte and glossy. I haven't seen the matte in a store but I have seen the glossy. Like you say, the glossy is probably more sharper and vibrant. The matte will have the blacks look more washed out. However, I think the sharpness is just not enough for me to overcome the reflections. I still could go either way, but I am leaning towards a matte right now. Hopefully my local Apple Store will have one on display so I can make a decision.
  23. reetcher macrumors member

    Apr 11, 2007
    First I do want to apologize for my reply however I don't feel as if i was being a troll for questioning your OP. To me the anti-glare screen is about color accuracy. I would be very interested to read a well detailed comparison reviewing the color calibration of the two screens with hardware such as the i1. I would also be interested to hear your opinion of angle of view between the two screens.

    No hater here, I just want a tool that works allowing me to get to the beer quicker
  24. Kronie macrumors 6502a


    Dec 4, 2008
    I don't have my MBP just yet but my previous laptop was a studio XPS with the same LED WUXGA screen AND the same glass overlay. The XPS calibrated just fine, FOR A LAPTOP SCREEN.

    IMHO anyone SO worried about color accuracy shouldn't even think about processing on a TN screen.
  25. freethinker macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2009
    It's my experience with Antyglare MBP 17" -

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