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Summary:

Anthony Hunt has posted The Matte display for MacBook Petition on PetitionOnline.com which reads: To:  Apple Computer We pledge to purchase a new MacBook if you, Apple Computer, would be so kind as to provide the option of a matte display. Sincerely, The Undersigned I’m all […]

Anthony Hunt has posted The Matte display for MacBook Petition on PetitionOnline.com which reads:

To:  Apple Computer

We pledge to purchase a new MacBook if you, Apple Computer, would be so kind as to provide the option of a matte display.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned

I’m all for bringing back matte display, and when I visited and signed, more than 5300 others had done likewise, but I have to say I’m not terribly optimistic. While some have suggested that Apple ditched the matte display option on the new 15″ MacBook Pro to cut costs, I think the main impetus was the new MacBook Pro’s “display under glass” styling motif pioneered with the aluminum iMac in 2007. So unless there is some way to have a matte finish glass surface that would work, I think it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see a return to matte in the near future.

Possibly if a lot of high-end graphics users dug in their heels and started bailing to the Windows side, it might get Apple’s attention, but in the meantime, if you want a matte display, the option is still available in the 17″ MacBook Pro for a few more months at least. But it would be prudent to anticipate it will be gone when a 17″ unibody machine arrives.

The matte vs. glossy controversy tends to be an emotional one, but there are some objective factors in play. Matte fans complain about reflections that interfere with visibility, and glare coming off the glass as opposed to the soft glow of a matte screen, while some high-end graphics pros say glossy displays are unfit for high-end color work in graphics or video. If forum and board postings are to be believed, the lack of a matte screen option, for many, is a deal-breaker.

Unfortunately, like the proverbial camel edging its way into the tent, glossy, which started out as an option on the MacBook Pro, then was offered as the only choice on the MacBook, aluminum iMac and MacBook Air, is now the only option for all Mac portables, save the holdover 17″ MacBook Pro.

Personally, I’m leaning more and more toward a matte display, which rules out the new MacBoo  and MacBook Pro models for my next system upgrade. I’ve all but settled on picking up a refurbished early 2008 MacBook Pro with a matte display and leaving the adjustment to glossy for sometime in the future. If Anthony Hunt’s petition and other protests gain more traction perhaps Apple will eventually bow to the strong preference of many of their most loyal customers, especially graphics professionals and frequent travelers, and restore matte displays as an option.

Unfortunately for the present, as is so very often the case with Apple hardware, design aesthetics have trumped practicality and functionality.

  1. I probably would have chosen matte if the option was available but as I write this a glossy MBP is on its way to me.

    There seem to be “display academics” arguing a case for each side. Good, calibrated, glossy displays theoretically provide a sharper image and more accurate colour representation due to the lack of a colour-diffusing anti-glare coating. Reflections remain an undeniable drawback however.

    I really hope that (not just for my sake) the moaning about glossy displays is hyperbolical and that pros just need 6 months to adjust. If so, I hope Apple can migrate their lineup of cinema displays to uniform glossiness and the issue can be laid to rest.

    Charles, can I add that I think you’d be crazy to pickup an early ’08 MBP (unless the prices is astounding). The late ’08s are a ground-up improvement and I suspect you’ll regret it.

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  2. If only they made matte glass!

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  3. “While some high-end graphics pros say glossy displays are unfit for high-end color work in graphics or video”

    Those aren’t really ‘pros’ if they are arguing for matte. Matte screens don’t reflect less light, they just spread it in multiple directions (via what amounts to an uneven surface) to give the appearance of diminished glare. This also spreads/distorts colors. There are also ‘pros’ are argue for CRT over LCD. When was the last time you saw a matte CRT? Say you like matte for the less glare, but don’t try to say it’s because you ‘pro-graphics’ job requires it. That is just false.

    Besides, who does “high-end” work outside.

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  4. It is possible to have a matte display on glass. Thinkpad Tablets used to have them until they introduced the X200 (which I haven’t seen but looks glossy on photos.) My X41 Tablet has a matte display and it is a toughened surface as well so that things harder than the stylus won’t mark it.

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  5. jdq: Exactly! Apple wouldn’t do something like this if they knew it would be a deal-breaker for too many people. If the reflections bother you your display is turned down too low.

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  6. While I agree, it’s hard to argue that there are some situations where the glossy would be just annoying with all that glare, I don’t think that all 5300 of those people will just stop buying Apple laptops now. Some, like you, may buy refurbs or old stock of the pre-unibody macbook pros, but I have a hard time imagining everybody’s going to just switch to windows now. Perhaps someone will come out with a screen overlay to reproduce a matte finish?

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  7. MacBook? When did this become about the MacBook? The MB has NEVER had a matte option.

    Petitions are fine, but I think this one is badly written. If Apple offered a MB matte option tomorrow, all 5,300 people will follow through on their pledge and buy one? I don’t believe it. Do you?

    As for matte itself, screen filters have gone on or over glass displays for this purpose for 20 years. Any third party that does it right could make a matte filter for either the MB or MBP. I’m sure some of them will, but isn’t it revealing that demand for one on the MB was pretty much non-existant for their 2.5 year life?

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  8. Say what you want, but glossy is in many ways just a mirror. See same light both displays:
    http://www.blogcdn.com/www.engadget.com/media/2008/10/mbp_comparison.jpg

    It’s impossible to watch DVDs like I used to do with my matte display and the quality of the colors fade away much faster if you look a bit from the top.

    Sorry, glossy sucks! And it’s not just a minority that thinks so (5,400 signs so far):
    http://www.petitiononline.com/38djhak2/petition.html

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  9. Reality Check Sunday, October 26, 2008

    Some demand “glossy” because they are “pros”. As a “pro” myself, I use glossy exclusively. I also watch DVDs on a glossy screen and I find the experience just fine. To say it’s impossible is hyperbole and not based in fact.

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