Which? Convo regulars will know that we’ve been asking for the return of matte laptop screens. Some have said that glossy screens offer better image quality, but the results of our lab tests tell a different story.
The majority of comments made on our Conversations about laptop screens have been in favour of a matte option. In our poll of 1,667 the answer was clear – nine in ten chose matte over glossy screens.
With so much interest, we wanted to investigate further, so we also spoke to 1,345 Which? members – 44% said they’d prefer a matte screen on their laptop, compared to just 11% glossy. Additionally six in ten members thought manufacturers should offer the option of both glossy and matte so that people can choose the right one for them.
Sure, there are laptops with matte screens available, but numbers are limited and they tend to be on premium priced or business models. And although we were happy to see Samsung announce that its latest range of laptops will feature non-reflective (aka matte!) screens, this is just one manufacturer of many. Others need to jump on board, to give consumers a choice.
The matte vs glossy laptop screen test
We also took to our lab to find out whether there were actually any differences between the performance of matte and glossy screens, looking at things like colour, brightness, contrast, reflections and viewing angles.
We compared two Dell models – one with a standard glossy and one with a matte screen from its business range. And we also looked at two of Apple’s 15-inch MacBook Pro’s – one of the few laptops on the market to offer both antiglare and glossy options (though you do have to pay an extra £120 for the matte option).
In our technical measurement tests (using a spectrophotometer) both Dell screens were on a par. When it came to our experts subjectively rating the screens, again both performed similarly well, with the glossy screen doing slightly better in a mid-lit room. In a brightly lit room, they were equal.
As far as Apple’s MacBook screens, there was some slight variation in brightness and colour errors in our technical tests (with the matte screen coming out on top in some areas). But again, just like the Dell screens, both performed the same when our experts rated the screens.
The only place there was a difference was when our experts subjectively rated the screens for reflections – the matte MacBook and matte Dell achieved full marks with a “very good” rating, compared to the glossy versions “poor” rating.
So the upshot from our tests appears to be that there’s no great difference in technical performance between the two types of screen. In the end, the question of matte vs glossy is very much a matter of personal preference.
Our matte screen campaign
With support from our lab tests, and with such clear demand from you, we’re going to take the matte screen cause straight to the laptop manufacturers in order to make them answer this consumer need.
We’re certainly not suggesting that all laptops should have matte screens, but we think that all manufacturers should offer a choice between the two. Plus, this matte option should not only be available on laptops at the top of their price range.
We’ll be keeping you up to date with what we hear back and, in the meantime, keep your matte screen support coming in!