Apple’s current generation of Macs come with glossy LCD screens, which are much more reflective than the matte screens that preceded them. If you own one of these machines, you can turn glossy into matte one of two ways.
When Apple announced their new lineup of MacBooks, iMacs, and Cinema Displays, a vocal segment of the online community resisted their choice to exclusively offer glossy displays. Well, actually, glassy displays – the difference being the LCD is now behind a strong sheet of glass and no longer exposed. This certainly contributes to a more aesthetically pleasing design and improves durability, but the mirror-like reflections that glass creates are bothersome in certain environments with a lot of light.
In many cases, the sheer brightness of the display overpowers any reflections users may encounter. In addition, the new screen’s more vibrant colors and sharper picture further offset the disadvantages associated with being glossy. Most people either got over it or never cared to begin with, while others still vowed to never buy another Apple product until matte screens make their return. I personally think that’s a drastic step to take, but some folks are adamant. If you are one of those people, you have options. You can buy a new Mac and still have that matte display you like so much. Here’s how:
Get a screen transplant
TechRestore, a reputable service provider for the last 5 years, offers a screen replacement program for 13″ MacBooks ($169), 13″ unibody MacBook Pros ($199.99), and 15″ unibody MacBook Pros ($199.99). The way it works is simple: you send them your glossy-screened laptop, they keep it for 24 hours to do the deed, and they send it back to you with an anti-glare matte display. They not only remove the glass, but also the original LCD itself. Their website promises you will receive a matte LCD with the same specifications, backed by a 1 year warranty. It’s expensive and you’ll be without your computer for a little while, but the result is a true matte display for your Mac – just like you wish Apple offered in the first place.
Apply an anti-glare film
If plunking down the big bucks for a full screen replacement isn’t for you, the second option will surely be more appealing. A number of companies sell custom-cut protective films that keep your screen safe and take away those reflections. These products are very affordable and, for the most part, just as good as a real matte screen. Once applied, it’s likely you’ll hardly notice the difference. The only downside with going in this direction is that some of the brightness, color saturation, and clarity you loved so much about your Mac’s screen will be diminished. If you really hate those reflections, though, the tradeoffs might be worth it. Here are some of the most popular anti-glare films available to glossy Mac owners:
Power Support USA: 13″ MacBook ($30.00), 13″ unibody MacBook Pro ($34.95), 15″ unibody MacBook Pro ($34.95)
RadTech: 13″ unibody MacBook Pro ($19.95), 15″ unibody MacBook Pro ($19.95), 24″ iMac ($24.95), 24″ LED Cinema Display ($24.95)
Photodon: 13″ MacBook ($12.67), 13″ MacBook Air ($12.32), 13″ unibody MacBook Pro ($15.50), 15″ unibody MacBook Pro ($21.66), 17″ unibody MacBook Pro ($21.37), 20″ iMac ($41.45), 24″ iMac ($47.20), 24″ LED Cinema Display ($56.58)
Although I have used Apple’s glossy desktops and notebooks with no problem, I can see why some users would prefer a matte display instead. There’s no doubt Apple should offer buyers a choice of screen styles on all of their MacBook Pro models, like they do with the 17″ model. It would be more of a hassle to do the same with white MacBooks, iMacs, and Cinema Displays, but their professional line of notebooks should be more flexible. Even if you like the glossy screens, more choice for those who don’t is always a good thing. Luckily, 3rd party vendors are picking up the slack with screen replacement programs and anti-glare films that cater to the matte-loving crowd. Share your thoughts on the glossy vs. anti-glare matte issue in the comments!
UPDATE – 8/11/09: Of course, just 1 day after this article is posted, Apple starts offering a matte display option for the 15″ MacBook Pro on their website. Bravo to them for listening to customer feedback and making this right. Everything in this article still applies, though – there are a ton of people who already own glossy screens who might like to do something about that. Another thing to consider is that Apple charges $50 extra for a matte screen when you configure your Mac, whereas the anti-glare films described above cost $15-$30 less. Oh, the choices! Everyone wins in the end.
Note: I have not tested any of these products myself and am not necessarily endorsing them. This is merely meant to be a resource for others – a way to make this information easily available.