Do tech manufactures think we’re magpies? Phones, tablets, laptops, cameras – their screens are buffed up to shine like the sun. But when will they learn that we don’t want our own grisly reflections staring back at us?
Think of the last gadget you bought – a sexy new smartphone, a lovely little laptop, a delightful digital camera?
I’ll bet you that its screen is as black and shiny as an ant’s abdomen that’s recently been put through a car wash and then rubbed in shoe polish.
Manipulating these gadgets in bright sunlight is thus almost impossible. And though Britain’s weather doesn’t make this as problematic as if you were on the French Riviera, even the dimmest light can lead to our eyes gawking back.
Shiny screens are so frustrating that it’s one of the inspirations for our digital camera viewfinders campaign. Of the 1,667 people we asked, 70% said they struggled to use an LCD camera screen in bright daylight.
My beloved, but burnished, Panasonix Lumix TZ7 camera looks like it wants to be the centrepiece of a sparse and mirrored post-modern flat. This made it almost impossible to see the photos I was trying to take of the strangely clean streets of Singapore.
Its LCD screen is so shiny that if I were to be stranded on a deserted island I’d be able to use its reflectiveness to send Morse code SOS messages to ensure my rescue.
Then there’s my Sony Vaio laptop. Its paltry two-hour battery life already makes handling it outside a grim experience. But add its shining beacon of a 15-inch screen and it’s not too long until I have to trudge back inside.
Shiny, shiny iPhone
And who could forget Apple? Steve Jobs is the gate keeper to the world of shiny, as commenter Dragilex mused over in our iPad 2 Conversation:
‘Humans like shiny stuff, simple as. iPad 2 – definitely shinier than the iPad and possibly the shiniest thing available today. What does it cost? Who cares, did I not mention how super shiny and slick it is?’
Now, although his comment was more about metaphorical shininess, it wasn’t long until someone picked up on the literal glossiness of Apple’s wares:
‘For me the iPad is too shiny! Slightest bit of light overhead […] and you can’t read the flipping screen! That’s why I bought a Kindle to read ebooks on, rather than an iPad,’ complained Ruth.
Ruth is quite right to mention ebook readers – they’re one of the only gadgets to utilise matte screens. Not only is this wise, it’s essential, as people like to read while they’re lying on the beach. Yet, why is it presumed that all our other gadgets will be used on a cloudy day?
Do you prefer matte or glossy screens?
But perhaps we only have ourselves to blame? Maybe matte gadgets won’t sell like hotcakes? As Charlie Brooker alleged in his recent How TV Ruined Your Life series:
‘Having been conditioned to surrender our attention to the lone glowing screen, suddenly we’re surrounded by thousands of the shimmering f***s. It’s like invasion of the gleaming rectangles. Pop a screen in our eye line and, no matter what we’re doing, we’re hopelessly drawn to the light. Never mind apes, we must be descended from moths.’
Magpies, moths, whatever obsessed creature we’ve mutated into, it’s about time that manufacturers forced us to go cold turkey and made our gadgets less shiny.
What type of screen do you prefer?
Matte (89%, 1,491 Votes)
Glossy (11%, 178 Votes)
Total Voters: 1,667