No Fix for Glossy MacBook Pro Screens?

October 21st, 2008

There’s a lot of whining about the new glossy-only screens of the MacBook Pros (and MacBooks, for that matter) just introduced. I generally agree that I don’t like glossy screens, so before I am in the market for a new machine, I thought I’d check options for fixing the problem.

Generally, there are fairly positive reports about fixing glossy screens with anti-reflective films, in particular 3M’s Vikuiti-branded films. I got the impression that glossy screens with anti-glare film applied don’t reach optical qualities of matte displays, but come close. Only downside seems to be that it’s a pain to apply the adhesive film because any dust between screen and film will result in ugly bubbles. So there’s even a version of the film (ARMP-200) that can be permanently laminated onto a display with the help of professional equipment, which comes a bit costlier but will guarantee a lasting quality result.

So today I had a little chat with a German company that’s got a cleanroom and is 3M-certified to apply the ARMP-200 film, talking about ways to fix the new MacBook Pro. Unfortunately, it turns out that the new MacBook Pros have a glass cover (which makes up more or less the whole surface of the lid), under which the actual LCD panel is mounted. While in principle one could laminate a film onto the panel, it wouldn’t fix the problem because the glass cover would still be reflective. On the other hand, one could apply a film to the glass cover, but it seems like it would result in a fairly grainy picture (apparently because the glass is at a fair distance from the actual panel surface). On top of things, there’s no more display bezel under which one could hide the seams of the film, which would make things look fairly ugly. All in all, these guys advised me not to try it.

So it seems to me like it’s pretty much technically impossible to turn the glossy MacBook Pro display into a matte display. Bummer. Of course, other ideas or reports about experiences with anti-reflective films would be highly welcome. Maybe the solution is just whining, after all?

Edited to add: This might be a viable solution (via agilesWissen)

Edited to add: Apple finally added a $50 matte option for MacBook Pros in August 2009.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Gerard  |  November 15th, 2008 at 15:24

    At our firm (we do on-line marketing and website development) we were hoping that a solution linke this would eventually fix the problem… Your article is interesting research but the outcome is a bummer indeed. Maybe an anti glare coating would help (like you have on glasses, photo lenses etc.). I’m not sure that would work as an aftermarket solution. Maybe you’d need that on all the surfaces… For me I could live with a glossy screen (work on a big mate monitor and check how the other halve see it in your laptop) but the glare form the untreated glas is just so horrible. So for me there are two problems: no mate option and glare on the glossy screens…

  • 2. Screen True  |  December 11th, 2008 at 23:25

    Hey there

    I so agree with you guys hence I have taken it upon myself to develop a matte anti reflective film that takes 2 seconds to apply and solves this problem.

    We have tried hard to find a robust solution and we GUARANTEE no bubbles with our solution and we have been testing this for over 2 months with no problems.

    This film is custom cut for the new aluminium macbook’s and is really the best solution.

    check out photos on flickr here

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