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Matte Screen Option Returns to 15-inch MacBook Pro

Apple has quietly reintroduced the antiglare matte display as a premium option to the 15-inch MacBook Pro. Recently, and without notice, the company updated its online store to offer the antiglare display option for $50. The option had been available only for the 17-inch MacBook Pro. The 13-inch MacBook Pro and 13-inch MacBook remain available only with a glossy display.

In October 2008, Apple moved the unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro lineup to glossy displays, doing away with an option for a matte screen. The 17-inch MacBook Pro, released in January 2009, retained the option for a matte display. (For details, see "On the Way Out: FireWire and Matte Screens?," 2008-10-18.)

It's worth noting that Apple also brought FireWire back with the new 13-inch MacBook Pro, leaving the MacBook Air as the only Mac without FireWire; see "Apple Refreshes MacBook Line at WWDC," 2009-06-08.

The decision generated a thunderstorm of scorn from users who found the glossy display's glare to be a distraction. Most people agreed that the new displays were brighter, had deeper blacks, and offered more saturated colors, but the inevitable glare that resulted in brightly lit environments caused a divide among users. While many found the glare easy enough to ignore - or at least worth the trade-off for better colors and brightness, others found the reflection to be too distracting.

Underlining the vitriol was the fact that Apple had removed what many felt was an essential option, rather than acknowledge differing opinions on such a central design feature. While it's easy to see why Apple would want to streamline options with consumer-level systems, to do so for models targeted at working professionals was insulting.

Many MacBook Pro users are design and graphics professionals who spend their days tweaking subtle visual details. If Apple expected these users to continue buying premium systems, the company needed to acknowledge that not everyone fits comfortably into the same box; that's especially true with visual perception, where opinions on what's best vary widely. Wasn't this the company that encouraged us to Think Different?

Given this context, Apple's reversal deserves some applause, as it's apparent the cries of snubbed users have been heard. Yet there remains the issue of the 13-inch MacBook Pro. If Apple truly sees the smallest MacBook Pro model as appropriate for professional users (and we think it is), why should it be denied the display options of its larger brethren?


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Comments about Matte Screen Option Returns to 15-inch MacBook Pro
(Comments are closed.)

Scott Rose  2009-08-11 16:01
It's about time Apple did this.

However, Apple needs to ALSO bring back the ExpressCard Slot to the 15" MacBook Pro as well, which they disgracefully STOLE from us users.

I discuss this more on my website at http://scottworldblog.wordpress.com/2009/06/09/apple-bring-the-expresscard-slot-back-to-the-15-macbook-pro/

Also, as you stated in your article, Apple needs to bring the matte screen option to the 13" MacBook Pro as well. Apple thinks that they can just call a machine a "Pro" machine as part of an overall marketing gimmick, without actually treating it like a Pro machine.

Apple, if you're going to call these machine Pro machines, then we need Pro features!

Give us our ExpressCard slot back!

And give us matte options on the 13" MacBook Pro!
I completely disagree. The matte option is one that is wanted by a very small percentage of Mac buyers. If it were popular, it would be across the line. I've had both, and the matte screen is fuzzy and harder to read, especailly when viewed side-by-side with a glossy screen. The fact Apple brought this back in one model means they think there is enough demand to justify it. The fact they did not bring it back across all models indicates that Apple feels the demand is light. The fact that they are charging for it means they think the demand is VERY light and justifies a BTO charge for the associated costs of stocking and assembling a separate display.
not so! I use the powerbook for presenting, tutorials, teaching, business, etc. the glossy screen was liked by virtually NO ONE in our office that uses the powerbook for desk presentations.
Player_16  2009-08-12 07:14
Good but, what I want to know is WHY won't Apple use a non-reflective coating on their screens. Not that optional matte crap but non-reflective like my glasses or the iSight camera lens in the top of the screen. It was used in the CRT screens in the past. Can anyone answer that?
A long time ago, non-reflective CRT flat-screens were in use by Apple. Sony Trinitron flat screens had them. But it was the glass not the actual screens themselves that had the coating. Because of that there was no double-reflections. The last CRT screens were the eMac. Strange how short peoples memories are nowadays. I'm looking at my Cube that came with a 17" CRT non-reflective glass screen. It's not as bright as my iMac but I can hardly see myself in it when it's off.
I'll be honest, matte is rubbish compared to non-reflective glass. For a better understanding:
...a cheap solution...
Clive Oliver  2009-08-13 16:17
I've used CRT's, LCD's for decades. I feel that the matte LCD on new MBP's are excellent, and were on the previous gen LED MBP (non-unibody).

The glass-covered screens on the new unibodies, and the 24" display, have reflection problems in anything but darkened room. If the new user has nothing to compare the glass-covered screen to, then they may dismiss the limitations as 'normal'.

Yesterday I spent 30 mins. at an Apple store with a 17" MBP matte & glass covered comparing PS4 image adjustments. To me, the matte screened 17 is a much better tool for image work.

I believe that the numbers of pro-users complaining about glass-covered screen was greater than Apple expected. (Hence the TechRestore firm offering a quick panel replacement to matte on all the new Apple laptops). Hopefully the 13" will get the same option.

As to Apple charging a $50 fee? That's a Apple pushing to see what the market will bear. Their costs are the same.
H. Kessler  2009-08-18 00:01
Apple brought back the matte screen option to the 15-inch. Thank you Apple.
Now the next step: please bring back matte screens to the iMac. I would like to replace my old iMac and I cannot because of the glossy screen. Again: I do NOT buy any iMac with glossy screen!
Kernos  2009-08-18 10:01
Well, I like the glossy screens much better than the matte, I think because my old eyes need much more contrast and brighter backlighting. The glossy is better for me.

That said I also use a privacy filter on my MBP, as the flashing of windows bothers my spouse, when I use the computer. I have not noticed a glare problem without without the filter.

I do a lot of image work and do worry about color balance and brightness of images seen on various LCDs. I seem to get much more variation than with my calibrated CRT which I use as a standard.
Derek Currie  2009-08-18 13:01
Having worked with visual professionals since 1996 I have to point out a couple important facts. I'll list them within a couple comments.

First, any serious visual professional is not going to be performing serious work on a laptop. Despite the 'millions of colors' marketing by Apple, laptop displays are not. They most often provide only 6 bits per color. (I'll skip the math). Even the recent improved laptop displays don't qualify. Also, the viewing angle for most laptop displays is too poor for quality control.

. . .
Derek Currie  2009-08-18 13:08
. . .

Second, even if a visual professional was forced to use a laptop for work, they would perform that work in a controlled lighting environment allowing them the maximum amount of screen fidelity possible. Using a matte screen is out of the question as it creates blur. The glossy screen is required. Reflection from the glossy surface is not an issue in a controlled lighting environment.

There are those who disagree with the above, but this can only be considered their personal choice, at odds with what is considered the professional's choice.

Meanwhile, out in uncontrolled lighting environments, the matte screen can clearly be of benefit to anyone making the best of a difficult situation.