The Difference Between Glossy and Matte Displays

Glossy or Matte DisplaysAs you shop laptops. A question that’s sure to come up is what’s the difference between glossy and matte displays?

Glossy and matte screens are similar in that they both use the same Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) panels-more about what this is in a moment.

But choosing one over the other still requires careful consideration. After all. You could be stuck with your decision for some time.

Suffice it to say. There’s no one choice that works best for everyone; or for every scenario.

Some users swear by their glossy screen. And others extol the virtues of a matte display. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both to help you discover which is best for your needs.

Difference Between Glossy and Matte Displays

What is Liquid Crystal Display (LCD)?

To begin understanding the difference between glossy and matte displays. It’s useful to know that laptop screens are becoming more sophisticated every day.

The resolution is much improved (Since the ability to watch videos is such an important laptop feature. LCD manufacturers have adopted the 1080-pixel standard, or Full High-Definition over the former 1366 x 768p). And now thanks to cell phone technology. Features like touchscreen are becoming more common-place, too.

LCD Diagram

All laptop screens are liquid crystal display. Although an LCD panel is very thin. It’s constructed of many layers. They include two polarized panels with a liquid crystal solution between them. Liquid Crystals are like shutters. On an LCD matrix, there are lots of shutters, otherwise known as pixels.

When light is projected through the layer of colorized liquid crystals. An image is produced. But, since the liquid crystals don’t emit light themselves. They require a backlight to make the image clearer. Which comes in the form of the older Cold Cathode Fluorescent Light (CCFL). Or the newer Light Emitting Diode (LED).

Additionally, the difference between glossy and matte screens is the type of LCD. There are two; TFT (thin-film transistor) and IPS (in-plane switching).

TFT LCDs are cheaper and use the thin-film transistor technology to improve image quality. IPS LCDs go one step further on this technology by also improve the viewing angles and power consumption.


Glossy vs. Matte Debate

The difference between a glossy and matte display is in the coating. Both offer different viewing experiences. And in controlled settings, you can’t even tell the difference.

The reason why laptop manufacturers haven’t been able to settle on just one coating solution is obvious. Different users have unique requirements for their laptops.

But if your work is primarily in the office or out in the field. This difference can render your laptop pretty much useless if you buy it with the wrong display.

So, a great first step for deciding which option will serve you best is to think about the kind of environment in which you’ll be using your laptop the most. Will there be lots of light? Or will you find yourself using your laptop in mostly dark spaces.


Glossy Laptop Displays


Glossy screens are getting better at managing reflection, and can be found on most touchscreen laptops. Digital media consumers love that their laptop has a glossy LCD because the ability to see colors vividly is important to their work.

The difference between a glossy and matte screen is that glossy displays have a smooth outer, polarizing layer that allows colors to appear brightly with intense vibrancy.

Glossy LCD screens also provide high contrast-blacks appear deeper. And other colors are more saturated.

Laptops with glossy displays are perfect for indoor use. Particularly away from direct sunlight and florescent lights. It’s well suited for playing games, watching movies, and editing images.



An unfortunate difference between a glossy and matte screen is that laptops with glossy displays are more prone to glare. And lots of it.

This is because the surface is more reflective than matte screens. They reflect light from windows and light bulbs easily. Which can be extremely noticeable.

And, if the thought of smudges on your laptop sends you into a mild panic attack. Glossy LCD screens are definitely not for you. This type of display is a fingerprint magnet.


Matte Laptop Displays


Another difference between a glossy and matte displays is that matte LCD panels are constructed with a polarized coating over the glass that works to diffuse ambient light.

As a result, these screens tend to handle glare much better. And offer increased flexibility when it comes to the types of environment in which you can work.

If you’ll be working long hours on your laptop. Eyestrain should be a concern. Since the surface of a matte LCD screen is less reflective than a glossy one when exposed to external light. You’ll suffer less from eyestrain.

Need to work outdoors? No problem. The coating on matte displays will make it easier to see and read details on your laptop screen. Anti-glare matte screens are also the quintessential display of choice for office environments that are bright, with lots of lights everywhere.



The downside of the coating is slight blurring of colors, reduced contrast, and narrower viewing angles. Narrower viewing angles means you might have to look at the laptop head-on to see things clearly on it.

Another side-effect is that colors often appear dull. And even though a matte display is leagues better at minimizing glare than a glossy screen. In direct sunlight. You still might get some glare.

To top it all off. As you can imagine. The big difference between a glossy and matte display is that the extra coating results in a more expensive laptop than a laptop without it.


The Difference Between Glossy and Matte Displays; Still Can’t Decide?

Don’t despair. If there just doesn’t seem to be a choice for you between these two. A clear alternative for you might be choosing a laptop with a glossy display.

And buying anti-glare screen film for it, which is available on Amazon for less than $30. This way, if you find yourself in a scenario where you constantly need to flip between the two. You can.

Yet another alternative might be to consider Acer’s CrystalBrite Technology for the manufacturer’s brand of laptops. It minimizes glare by controlling light diffusion without diminishing the brightness of the screen.



The difference between glossy and matte screens is a matter of environment and personal preference. Our advice is that if you’ll be working in a dark area. Go for a laptop with a glossy display. But if you’re working where there’s plenty of light. You might consider a matte display.

What are some of your considerations about a laptop with a matte or glossy display? Which would you choose? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *