Poll: Do you prefer glossy or matte finishes on your notebook?

Despite looking quite nice when all buffed up, glossy notebook surfaces easily become marred by an unsightly mess of fingerprints and smudges. When applied to a laptop’s screen, glossy coatings also tend to create unwanted reflections in normal indoor lighting. However, matte surfaces can look rather dull and uninspired. And, at least in notebooks, matte displays tend to be dimmer and have poorer color reproduction than their glossy counterparts.

That brings us nicely to this week’s poll, which asks whether you prefer matte or glossy coatings on your notebook’s screen and other surfaces. You can cast your vote over on the right column on the front page or after clicking on the comment link below.

Last week, our poll asked whether you play first-person shooters on the PC or consoles. As one might expect from the readers of a website dedicated to reviewing enthusiast-class PC hardware, an overwhelming 83% prefer to get their FPS fix on the PC. Only 5% play shooters primarily on consoles, with another 5% sharing time equally between the two platforms. 6% of those who voted don’t play first-person shooters at all, and only 2% avoid games entirely.

Comments closed
    • johndisko
    • 9 years ago

    I vote for the missing option : Glass!
    Sure, it’s reflective , but perfectly so, unlike polymer glossy displays which are not uniform and you can see all sorts of distortions.

    And of course, being glass, it’s the easiest to clean which is a factor especially with mobile computers who get all nasty after a short while.

    Edit : Spelling

    • EndlessWaves
    • 9 years ago

    Laptop casings should age well and laptop screens should be viewable under as many conditions as possible.

    The typical glossy screens don’t give this, but neither do some of the dimmer matt screens and casing is even more confused with some materials of both finishes wearing badly and some not.

    Personally I do hate that soft, glossy plastic that picks up all the fingerprints and scratches easily but better quality glossy material that doesn’t show fingerprints and resists wear well can be very nice.

    I do generally lean towards matt for aesthetics though.

    • barich
    • 9 years ago

    I think that the average person would choose matte plastics and screens if those options were available on the shelf at Best Buy next to the glossy abominations. Especially under the harsh lighting which will enhance the reflections and fingerprints. Matte plastics and screens shouldn’t cost more, so I don’t understand why there’s not more product differentiation at retail.

    When matte laptops are only available for ordering sight unseen, it’s not a big surprise that people go with what they can find locally. A laptop is a hard purchase to make without actually seeing and touching it first. That didn’t stop me from buying a ThinkPad for the first time a few years back, but I was very unsure about it until it actually arrived.

    • Sahrin
    • 9 years ago

    I went “don’t care either way” because you are missing 4 options (mixed don’t cares):

    I don’t care what the exterior looks like, but I don’t want a hyper-reflective screen (nor do I think there is any rational reason to employ one).

    • Wirko
    • 9 years ago

    To be introduced in late 2014: screens that have no reflection of light (or ten times less than in 2010), neither scattered nor mirror-like. Until then, we have to choose between bad and worse.

    • RealPjotr
    • 9 years ago

    “However, matte surfaces can look rather dull and uninspired. And, at least in notebooks, matte displays tend to be dimmer and have poorer color reproduction than their glossy counterparts.”

    I prefer matte all over, both desktop (always IPS based) and laptops. And good LCDs are always matte! I have never seen any glossy high quality display.

    • FireGryphon
    • 9 years ago

    I’ve learned to love glossy screens on laptops, but I’m sure the first time I take my laptop outside I’m going to regret saying that. How about an active screen that can change from matte to glossy based on ambient light?

    Surfaces have got to be matte. Glossy plastic looks cheap and gets dirty. It only works in a bad ’70s movie. I much prefer metal.

    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    Someone’s gotta send these results to Lenovo, Acer, Asus, Dell and Toshiba. Then when all of them roll out entire lineups with matte screens and surfaces, the next poll one year from now will show everyone wanting glossy screens and surfaces again.

      • Chrispy_
      • 9 years ago

      Except nobody ever moaned about matte finishes. Everyone was happy and I don’t ever recall hearing “I wish they made glossy screens so that I could see my own reflection”.

      Glossy is normally used to mask the shortcomings of a panel with low contrast ratios and poor black levels.

    • hapyman
    • 9 years ago

    Why don’t we see more of the finishes that they use on LCD or Plasma TVs in laptops. I’m talking about the nice anti-glare finish you see in the higher end models. I reckon at the 14″ scale it wouldn’t be too hard or expensive to include.

    • GrimDanfango
    • 9 years ago

    l[

      • Chrispy_
      • 9 years ago

      r[

        • ludi
        • 9 years ago

        It isn’t “ignorance”, per se, in fact a glossy screen does convey somewhat better image quality /[

          • GrimDanfango
          • 9 years ago

          It is a fallacy though, a matte finish on a screen doesn’t diffuse any significant amount of the screen output – if it did, you’d have pixels bleeding into each other, which they dont. Neither does it inhibit colour accuracy, that’s complete nonsence. The only thing it does is diffuse environment reflections. A gloss and a matte finish screen in a pitch black room would perform near-identically. In a lit environment, a gloss finish will have part of the screen obscured by vivid reflections, while a matte finish will have the same reflection diffused into an overall mild sheen. Both sacrifice some visual quality in a brightly lit environment, but only one leaves the entire image clearly visible…

    • Hirokuzu
    • 9 years ago

    The Sony Vaio Z I saw on display at my local sonystyle store seems to be somewhere in the middle of matte and glossy =\ it’s a little reflective, but it’s matte enough that i don’t even notice it when i use it. balance? =\

    My Acer timeline X has the brushed aluminum but still gets smudges all over it =\, and the glossy screen makes it so I can turn off my backlight in direct sunlight and read using that light source =D

    • tygrus
    • 9 years ago

    Glossy finish looks good for about … 5 minutes. While travelling in car or train, outside at sport event, work, home you can’t stick your head under a towel and do anything constructive. Sure we want to watch movies and photo’s on glossy screens with controlled lighting but that’s not when you are doing work.

    • ZGradt
    • 9 years ago

    Glossy screens are the devil because all I see is the damn reflection of whatever light source is behind me, rather than what is actually being displayed.

    I like glossy surfaces though. Nice and smooth. I’m not very OCD about appearances.

    • pedro
    • 9 years ago

    Give me 16:9 or give me death! Whether you make it glossy or matte is none of my concern.

    Actually, on further reflection, make it glossy whilst you’re at it.

    • PopcornMachine
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t understand glossy laptops, notebooks, lcds, tvs, anything. Great if you’re running a showroom, but annoying otherwise.

    They only reason they keep making these things is because people are buying them.

    Please stop buying them.

      • rhema83
      • 9 years ago

      The manufacturers don’t give us much choice. The best screen I’ve had was my old 14.1″ Thinkpad T42, and as a bonus it had a sweet matt black finish plus the best laptop keyboard.

      Sidetrack: Samsung has done something right. Check out the recent XL2370 23″ 1080p LED monitor with a matt screen! (The chassis is still glossy, but who cares?) Bought it in a heartbeat… for my wife. I am still stuck with the glossy 22-incher I bought two years ago. Ugh.

        • Dashak
        • 9 years ago

        I was looking at the XL2370 too, but then saw the clear plastic border… which makes it look cheap to me.

          • EndlessWaves
          • 9 years ago

          Most monitors have matt screens unless it’s changed in the last year or two.

    • crsh1976
    • 9 years ago

    The glossy screen and glossy finish need to die. Now.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    So there was a suggestion that future TR articlesfeature un-buffed photoshoots to give the manufacturers a taste of what their cheap glossy actually looks like.

    I’m waiting 🙂

    • packfan_dave
    • 9 years ago

    Joining the anti-gloss choir here. Oddly, the laptop I bought for myself is an upper-midrange Dell business notebook with a matte screen and matte finish. The laptop my employer bought for me for work is a cheap consumer model with glossy finishes.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 9 years ago

    It doesn’t matter what we think. What matters is what grabs peoples’ attention who are wandering around at Best Buy…which might actually be a matte laptop at this point, seeing as they’ve all turned into laser emitters and you’ll be blinded if you try to look at one long enough to catch what model it is.

    • C-A_99
    • 9 years ago

    Glossy screens suck, period. They are almost unusable with any direct light exposure and only work acceptably or better under pretty strict lighting conditions.

    I don’t care too much on finishes though. I have to keep surfaces dust-free either way and anyone who has OCD for clean glossy surfaces has a serious problem. As long as the finish isn’t pink with hearts on it or something as bad as that, who really cares? That said, glossy surfaces tend to feel unnaturally oily and I much prefer handling matte surfaces. While little fingerprints are no big deal, the scratches that glossy surfaces love to collect aren’t nice even if they don’t really matter.

    • Captain Ned
    • 9 years ago

    Glossy screens are an abomination and I can’t understand why anyone thought they’d be a good idea.

    [/rant]

      • internetsandman
      • 9 years ago

      That was the shortest rant I’ve ever read. It’s still true though

        • sschaem
        • 9 years ago

        Isn’t one liner rant tweeter ‘business model’ ?

        We are going to create a website where people can post one liner, and everyone will love it and we will make billions!

    • green
    • 9 years ago

    i’m hoping TR are tracking which users voted for glossy screens so i can form a hit list
    already on the list:
    – nagashi
    – JdL
    possibly on the list:
    – Nereid
    – Usacomp2k3

    • Usacomp2k3
    • 9 years ago

    I happily take the glossy screen if it is sharper/brighter.

      • GrimDanfango
      • 9 years ago

      It’s not… the brightness is identical, the glossy reflections only give the impression of a deeper black, but it only works in places where there aren’t too many background sources of light so you’ve got a dark reflected environment to see it against – somewhere like a computer showroom 🙂

      It’s not sharper either… and since when has sharpness been an issue for any LCD, even the bad ones? The problem with cheap crap LCDs is more that the sharply defined square pixels are so crisp that they tend to show off all the colour-banding, ghosting, lag, and aliasing that LCDs suffer from even more.

      Personally I prefered the CRT days, when a decent screen had a dot-pitch smaller than the pixels you were displaying, and you lost some of the lego-block/mosaic effect.

        • indeego
        • 9 years ago

        /[<"It's not... the brightness is identical, the glossy reflections only give the impression of a deeper black, "<]/ How is the "impression" of something to a user different from actual experience? /[<"but it only works in places where there aren't too many background sources of light so you've got a dark reflected environment to see it against - somewhere like a computer showroom :-)"<]/ You mean like the vast majority of showrooms with 20+ high intensity FL lights 20-30 feet above their heads, like every best buy/wal*mart/big box store? And yet these places sell glossy displays just fine? And users aren't returning their glossy displays, or demanding nonglossy. The market would certainly shift. Love the little polls on TR. we live in our cute little world with our cute little opinions, meanwhile, the rest of the world ignores, and does whatever the hell they want on a different scale ranking in the millions rather than TR's thousandsg{<.<}g

          • Inkling
          • 9 years ago

          /[<...we live in our cute little world with our cute little opinions, meanwhile, the rest of the world ignores, and does whatever the hell they want on a different scale ranking in the millions rather than TR's *[

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            TR has hundreds of thousands that read, move on to 20+ other sites, and hold their own silent opinion. I’m talking about comments and pollsg{<,<}g interactive users where we get a sense of their opiniong{<.<}g

          • destroy.all.monsters
          • 9 years ago

          Yes because popularity is /[

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            And the “enthusiasts” of a segment ALWAYS know what’s best for everyone. Why, we’d all be driving Mustangs and Rice’d up cars were that trueg{

        • Usacomp2k3
        • 9 years ago

        The glossy screen on my Dell 640m is significantly brighter than the one on my old inspiron 6000 or the 8500. So I respectfully disagree.

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          Is that a function of the coating, or advances in screen backlighting technology, though?

          I do wish more notebook manufacturers would put more effort into making screens that are legible outdoors. Unfortunately, with shrinking margins and today’s cost-conscious consumer, it’s unlikely that any real innovation will happen in the notebook space today. Notebooks have become an appliance, and many low to mid end notebooks are cheaper than a desktop equivalent today, even before factoring in the screen and battery. When was the last time somebody knew or cared what features their toaster had? It may not be long before the same thing happens to notebooks, and the only thing left on the market is cheap disposable pieces of trash.

          I’m all for value, but cheapness is not the same thing.

    • ShadowTiger
    • 9 years ago

    Now that I know how to scrape off the glossy finish with some steel wool or similar products… I am not as distressed by this.

    However… matte screens are almost impossible to find (especially in cheap stuff). I don’t want to shell out $1000+ for a “business” laptop that has the same specs as a $400 glossy laptop .

    • JdL
    • 9 years ago

    I love gloss. Glossy screens are generally much sharper / clearer / contrasty, because less light gets diffused on the screen surface compared to a matte finish.

    The way you resolve any glare / reflection problems is by controlling your ambient light sources better – i.e. don’t use your iPad or HP screen outside – and by increasing the brightness of the display so it overwhelms any reflections.

    P.S. I’m considering getting the new Apple 27″ Cinema because of the gloss over the Dell 27″ 2710, even though I know the Dell’s color gamut is a LOT better. (~110% vs 85% or so with the Apple)

    BTW I love the emotion people put into this question. Insane. 🙂

    Edit: Actually serious. That said, I am NOT a fan of glossy keyboards – that seems ridiculous.

      • Pizzapotamus
      • 9 years ago

      is this satire?
      The solution to glossy screens is to just not use your portable device outside or anyplace where you don’t have control of your lighting…

      • rhema83
      • 9 years ago

      Sarcasm alert…

      • The Wanderer
      • 9 years ago

      /[

      • EndlessWaves
      • 9 years ago

      Also, larger colour gamut is generally worse. You want 100% sRGB if possible (which is something like 72% NTSC).

    • Spotpuff
    • 9 years ago

    Instead of using glossy displays to try to make their displays look better, maybe someone could make an IPS notebook?

    • nagashi
    • 9 years ago

    I love my glossy screen. And yes, I use my laptop outside, in cars, in bright light, etc. I’d never go back to matte.

    I wouldn’t care about glossy surfaces, except they feel weird IMO.

    • ClickClick5
    • 9 years ago

    I…HATE…..GLOSS!!!

    I buy a laptop, netbook, notebook, computer screen for the purpose of computing. Not replacing my bathroom mirror.

    *shakes fist at HP*

      • ekul
      • 9 years ago

      I’m right there with you. I can’t stand glossy screens, surfaces or those new touchpads that aren’t at all distinguishable from the rest of the chassis.

      Sometimes I think laptop makers just go to best buy to decide what to build into their next model. One vendor comes out with a new “feature” that sucks and suddenly you can’t find a laptop without it. No one stops to wonder how it’s going to be to use day to day.

        • ClickClick5
        • 9 years ago

        I truly miss S-Video out on laptops. 🙁
        Now the laptop will cost some $700+ but it is just HDMI.
        I know HD is everywhere, but a lot of things don’t have HDMI ports…so now there are adapters involved….

    • Damage
    • 9 years ago

    bowman’s post nuked for potty mouth.

      • sweatshopking
      • 9 years ago

      ha! cussin! that’s my boy scotty. You know, you should come over. We could hang out

      • ClickClick5
      • 9 years ago

      lol, not just removed, nuked!

    • Corrado
    • 9 years ago

    Don’t really care as long as its high quality. I actually prefer metal. Aluminum or titanium or even stainless steel. I do prefer a matte screen, but I’m not AGAINST a glossy screen as long as its high quality.

      • anotherengineer
      • 9 years ago

      ya a brushed stainless steel shell would be sexy, 304SS ya and a matte screen, keys though?? white, black silver or other??

        • Voldenuit
        • 9 years ago

        Stainless??? You are aware just how heavy stainless is, right? DeLorean tried it and created a heavy porker of a car that could barely move.

        Also, I’ve owned many stainless appliances that have been smudge magnets, and are susceptible to corrosion, especially with skin oils and acids. The ones that aren’t typically have specialised finish and/or surface treatment. But you still can’t get rid of that weight.

        High end notebooks use aluminum and magnesium alloys for a good reason (some have dallied with titanium, but that was also a fad).

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 9 years ago

    Also part of the matte screen and don’t care about surfaces brigade. Less plastic in general I’m a fan of.

    We need more carbon fiber note/netbooks.

      • ybf
      • 9 years ago

      um…carbon fiber /[

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        No, it’s carbon. I’m sure of it.

          • ChronoReverse
          • 9 years ago

          Carbon fiber is often embedded in plastic though which is probably where his misunderstanding comes from.

            • Corrado
            • 9 years ago

            Its an epoxy, not really plastic.

          • GrimDanfango
          • 9 years ago

          By the same token, I’m fairly sure plastic IS carbon… being made from oil and all.

          Carbon fibre wouldn’t exactly make a great surface without being embedded in plastic, a bit knobbly I’d imagine.

          Brushed aluminium is my material of choice. All computers should be made entirely from it… including the screen 😛 Okay, maybe not, but at least a matte screen.

        • ludi
        • 9 years ago

        No, not in the conventional sense. Look into what carbon fiber is and how it is made, and then compare against other plastics.

        Don’t confuse plastic molded with a carbon-fiber finish for the real thing, incidentally.

          • stdRaichu
          • 9 years ago

          It appears, however, that alot of people /[

            • Voldenuit
            • 9 years ago

            The laptops that use carbon fibre properly (in the chassis), you can’t tell that they do (thinkpad X30x, Sony Z).

            Carbon fibre inserts (Acer, I’m looking at you) are usually purely cosmetic.

            And no, CFRP doesn’t shatter with impact. Otherwise, people wouldn’t make golf clubs, tennis rackets and racecars out of it.

        • sluggo
        • 9 years ago

        Sheets of woven carbon fiber are laid up in a mold, which is then filled with an epoxy. The mold is heated while a vacuum forces the epoxy to fill the mold, with the heat accelerating and “evening” the curing of the epoxy.

        After the mold is opened, excess material is trimmed away and the edges are finished. The product is part carbon fiber, part epoxy. Sort of like fiberglass, but much stiffer.

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          Pre-preg is the direction the industry is moving in, because it is *much, much* cheaper to assemble than the traditional method. You still need the kiln/clave to cure and bind the resin, but it’s a lot more manageable than wet layup*.

          I don’t think any modern performance vehicle still uses wet layup – the MacLaren F1 was the last production vehicle I know of, and that was 20 years ago.

          But yeah, carbon fibre is a *very* different beast from ‘plastic’. It’s even very different from glass fibre – both in structural properties and manufacture/assembly.

          Not sure how they build carbon fibre in laptops though.

          * In your example, epoxy actually has to be applied between *every* layer of layup, which complicates manufacture terribly (simply pouring epoxy over the layup would mean that the layers do not bond together when you cure it). It’s time-critical, tedious, and requires skilled labor. In other words, it was a total pain in the @$$. 🙁

      • flip-mode
      • 9 years ago

      Isn’t carbon fiber pretty flexible? Superlative in tension, but quite bendy in compression? Chassis made of it could be kinda flexy? Bendy, flexy, not so sexy?

        • w00tstock
        • 9 years ago

        Yes, this is why they use magnesium alloys for high-end devices

        • not@home
        • 9 years ago

        That depends on what you are talking about. Flexy and bendy sounds sexy to me.

        • Corrado
        • 9 years ago

        Usually you make the chassis out of something like fiberglass and then you wrap it in carbon fiber to add the strength. However, there are things like carbon fiber bike frames that are solely carbon fiber with more epoxy and hardener in it. Its all in the mixture.

        The actual carbon fibers are woven into a fabric that is then set over a mold and epoxied to make it no longer flexible.

        • LiamC
        • 9 years ago

        It’s all in how you lay up the sheets. Take a look at an F1 car crashing and tell me carbon fibre has poor compression strength…

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          I work with carbon fibre. It has poor compressive strength. On top of that, the sheets have a tendency to delaminate under compression, which futher compounds the issue.

          Notice how fragile the struts on said F1 car are to impacts? A little wheel banging will snap them. Certainly not something we saw in Fangio or Senna’s time, which led to more aggressive racing.

          • anotherengineer
          • 9 years ago

          Actually the sheets of carbon fibre don’t have any compressive strength since they (on their own) just pile up like a towel. The compressive strength mainly lies with the expoxy resin used to bind the sheets together.

      • Clint Torres
      • 9 years ago

      I prefer mimetic polyalloy…

        • Meadows
        • 9 years ago

        Combo breaker: alloy of what? 😉

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          Unobtanium and silicon (in the case of the TX) :p

          Nice chassis, though, even if it’s glossy.

            • Meadows
            • 9 years ago

            Two is hardly “poly”.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 9 years ago

            No dilithium or tritanium?

    • bowman
    • 9 years ago

    The glossy screen hasn’t really bothered me at all yet on my ASUS UL30A, but I guess maybe it isn’t all that glossy compared to others.

    The piano black gloss plastic is annoying the shit out of me though. I wish the inside had the same lovely anodized aluminium the lid has.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 9 years ago

    I just want a matte screen, don’t care about the surface. Matte screens are just easier on my eyes and I don’t have to worry about properly orienting myself with respect to light just so I can see what the hell is on my screen (besides my handsome face).

    • BoBzeBuilder
    • 9 years ago

    Just bought a Toshiba laptop for a friend, glossy screen and surface. Even the bloody keyboard is glossy, its disgusting. After 5 minutes of use, it’s a fingerprint wasteland. What can I do, she wants best value for her money, no exceptions.

      • ybf
      • 9 years ago

      start a business selling high-end leather computing gloves

        • Firestarter
        • 9 years ago

        light cotton gloves would probably work better and be cheaper to boot

          • BoBzeBuilder
          • 9 years ago

          Computing underpants work best. Rick’Roll your friends while taking a leak.

      • RealPjotr
      • 9 years ago

      “value” implies you get *something* for your money, otherwise you would say “cheapest possible”. I guess you/her don’t *value* matte over other features like MHz or GB then?

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t care too much about the outside of notebook — as they get to the end of their professional life and I’m only using them for personal stuff, I just stick bumperstickers and other crap on them (one of these days I’m going to actually mask and paint one). But given my druthers I’ll go with matte surfaces.

    But I hate, hate, hate glossy screens. To the point that I only shop for business notebooks because they’re the only ones that avoid the gloss.

    I’ve mentioned this before but I was walking down the netbook/ultraportable aisle at Fry’s a couple of months ago and the Lenovo X100e just popped out of the crowd as a salve for glare-bitten eyes — because it was the only one with a matte screen. And hence the only one I considered buying.

      • Pizzapotamus
      • 9 years ago

      this

      While I’d prefer a matte finish on the notebook surfaces, it’s about the very last thing I consider when buying. Glossy screen on the other hand is shit.

      • sjl
      • 9 years ago

      +1.

      I recently ditched my iMac (yes, I like Apple computers – so sue me. I’ll happily agree that their business policies need a bit of a rethink, though) for a Mac Pro. Why? Because I loathe glossy screens with a passion – they’re okay at night, but there’s nowhere in the house I can put one without having an annoying reflection to deal with during the day. That means it’s a choice between the Mac Mini, the Macbook Pro (15″ or 17″, with the anti-glare [matte] option), or the Mac Pro – the first and last being display-less systems. The Mac Mini doesn’t have the grunt I need/want (disk space in particular is a huge issue for me), so it’s the Mac Pro all the way.

      On the plus side, this beast should last me at least 5, if not 10, years.

      I will never, ever, ever, ever, /[

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    matte screen, don’t give a crap about finishes.

    • Nereid
    • 9 years ago

    I have a Dell XPS M1330 here, which has matte surfaces and a glossy screen, and it works fine for me. I’ve never been in a situation where the glossy screen bothers me, but I’m guessing there are far glossier screens out there where it could be more of a problem.

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