I’m as perplexed as you’re glossy

After the MacBook and the MacBook Pro (but at least with the latter it’s optional), the new iMac sports, too, a glossy screen. It’s surely part of the coolness of the new look, and the new iMacs are cool indeed. I went to the FNAC store the other week and a new iMac was on display side by side with an old one – needless to say, the ice-white old iMac looked even thicker and, well, older.

But why the glossy screen, why? I never saw the point of glossy screens. The glares and reflections of the surrounding environment can be highly disturbing, especially for those, like me, who don’t have a perfect sight. I started complaining about glossy screens since their appearance on non-Apple laptops. People, and even store clerks I provoked, usually replied to my observations telling me that I should test a glossy screen in my home and that I can’t really criticise or point to the numerous reflections when looking at it displayed in a store, because there are a lot of sources of artificial light, lots of stray reflections and so on and so forth.

Well, last year my fiancée bought herself a new 17-inch widescreen HP laptop with a glossy screen. So I could try it in the soft lighting of our home. And it’s awfully unbearable for my sight. It’s OK for browsing the Web for a while or checking emails, but I could never work before that screen 14 hours a day (I work with text and 95% of the time I sit and write in front of a screen, so your mileage may vary). I agree that photos and even DVDs look more vivid on a glossy screen, but I have to turn all the lights off and shade the daylight coming from the livingroom window if I want to watch a DVD before sundown.

For now I still work (and watch DVDs) with my two non-glossy PowerBooks. The text readability in strong daylight situation is, in my opinion, much much better with their matte screens. Take a look at this photo, for example:

My good old G4 500 MHz TiBook and its non-glossy screen

My good old G4 500 MHz TiBook and its non-glossy screen.

It’s taken at the library of the Polytechnical University of Valencia, at 10:28 AM with a very strong natural light coming from the left. The RSS feed is absolutely readable, and if I were to work with images or even watch some video, that would be very easy for the eyes and very doable. You see the girl with the striped shirt at the top of the photo? She had a Sony Vaio with a glossy screen. I don’t know how she managed to get something done, since the only visible thing on that screen was a reflection of herself, at least from my angle.

In short, I don’t really see the point of this late trend of glossy screens, and I don’t like the fact that Apple is gradually switching to ‘glossy everywhere’. It’s surely cool for the outer look of a Mac, but useful or better than a non-reflective screen? I doubt it. It’s a pity, because I really like the new iMacs and it would be a nice all-in-one upgrade for my home office, both in terms of raw speed and more compact footprint than my current combination of PowerBook G4 + 17-inch CRT display.

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About Riccardo Mori

Writer. Translator. Mac consultant. Enthusiast photographer. • If you like what I write, please consider supporting my writing by purchasing my short stories, Minigrooves or by making a donation. Thank you!