A glossy monitor vs a matte monitor

A glossy monitor vs a matte monitor

If you're in the market for a gaming monitor and looking for something with a little more pizzazz, we've got some good news: we're now offering our Spectrum monitors with two display options: a matte coating and a glossy coating! But what's the difference?

TLDR: if you can control the lighting of your environments, such as your home office or game room, always go for the glossy monitor because it helps to bring richer colors and deeper black. But a matter monitor is a safer option if you're in open environments with lots of lights. 

 

Overview 

A monitor display comprises different layers influencing the image and user experience. The backlight layer is responsible for illuminating the screen; the LCD layer is accountable for producing the image. The display panel's top layer protects the panel from its environment. It also dramatically influences reflections and color performance. So when people mention matte monitors or glossy monitors, they often refer to the top layer of the monitor's display panel.

 

What are a matte monitor and a glossy monitor?

A matte monitor has an electronic display with a matte anti-glare coating. Matte monitors feature a light-scattering anti-reflection layer, which reduces reflectivity at the cost of decreased contrast and color intensity under dimly lit conditions. 

matte-surface

Source: Pc Monitors

 

A glossy monitor has an electronic display with a glossy coating. A glossy monitor is coated with a layer of clear plastic during the manufacturing process, which appears as a much shinier surface. This allows the panel lights to pass through the screen transparently.   

glossy polarizer technology visualized

LCD Basics /j-display.com 

Most of the screens that we interact with daily use some form of glossy finish. Take modern TVs, laptops, phones, and smartwatches – they rock a display with a glossy coating or cover glass (usually treated with an anti-reflective solution) to achieve higher contrast ratios and better image clarity. Conversely, conventional wisdom dictates that people want matte displays only in the gaming monitor industry. 

 

So why are matte monitors the norm?

It is undeniable that the matter monitor has become popular due to the following benefits. 

The goods 

  • Reduce glare and improve content visibility in open environments

If you're using a modern monitor reading this, chances are it has a matte coating. This is the most widely-used finish for IPS gaming monitors, as it scatters external light as it hits the surface of the display. Breaking up the light in this way reduces the intensity of reflections and makes them less likely to interfere with the image on the screen. As a result, your content's visibility improves if your monitor is affected by strong direct or ambient light. 

  • Reduce eye strain 

As you don't have to focus 'through' intense reflections or glare to see the image, a matte monitor potentially reduces eyestrain and increases comfort. This is important if one is working or gaming for a long time. But remember that this only applies when your setups are in environments with ambient lights. 

  • Less visible dust 

Due to the nature of the matte surface, dust or fingerprints would be less visible on a matte monitor than on a glossy monitor. 

The trade-off 

  • Reduce perceived contrast and color vibrancy 

As a downside, the diffusing nature of this matte layer will also diffuse the image from the monitor itself a little, causing a slight reduction in sharpness and affecting color and contrast. Think of how frosted glass doesn't reflect what's on your side, but also doesn't show you what's on the other side as clearly. This layer also affects the light emitted by the monitor itself. Because of this, the visible brightness is reduced, which also leads to slightly muted colors. 

glossy vs matte perceived contrast comparison

Improved perceived contrast and colors (Source: Dave2D) 

 

  • Reduce in sharpness, depending on thickness and layering of matte surface 

A close inspection will show that the individual pixels are slightly blurred, though the image is still clear.  

 

glossy vs matte perceived text clarity comparison

Above: showing improved text sharpness and image Quality (Source: Dave2D) 

 

Should I choose a matte monitor? 

To achieve a matte effect, manufacturers apply an anti-glare (AG) film to the monitor's screen during the panel production process. This AG film diffuses light that hits the screen's surface, resulting in reduced glare and improved visibility against directly lit light sources. In effect, it minimizes distractions by diffusing reflections and is ideal when you have little control over the lights in your environment. Or if reflections and fingerprints on the monitor would drive you up the wall, go for a matte monitor. 

 

How about glossy monitors?

We were surprised that many consumers wanted glossy monitors during our crowd-development process. Some people even mentioned that for one who is able to experience the glossy monitor, it's hard to go back. The demand is seemingly strong, but there is little reaction on the supply side. Very few brands venture into the production of glossy monitors, not to mention glossy gaming monitors. Currently, the most notable brand that offers glass-coated screens is Apple with its display line, including many iMac models that mainly target creatives and designers. Before our glossy project launch was announced at the beginning of 2022 and by the time I am writing this article, no other gaming hardware brands had entered into this venture. 

Throughout the development process of the glossy monitor, we could confirm that the main reason is because of the huge amount of additional R&D and factory recalibration required. In our case, it required LG to re-calibrate its fully automated LCD assembly line and changes to the certification process, tuning color performance, and conducting durability testing; it was not easy. Neither was our effort to convince LG. We guess it's enough, for now, to make you curious about why we spent tons of effort on working and developing the glossy monitors. Here they are: 

The goods

We describe the technical aspects in the post named Project: Spectrum | Reflecting on Reflections on our community. But the best way to explain the difference and benefits would be to have a matte monitor and a glossy monitor side by side. Luckily, TFT Central did an amazing job of creating close-up analysis with a camera and a digital microscope.

  • Crisper text and sharper content

As shown below, the text on a matte screen has a small amount of blur to the edges caused by the anti-glare coating. In contrast, the text is sharper and crisper on a glossy screen than on a matte screen. 

glossy vs matte perceived text clarity comparison

Above: Text clarity and sharpness comparison – zoomed in on a normal font of 11-point size (Source: TFTCentral

  • Improve perceived contrast and color vibrancy

The most significant benefit of a glossy monitor is that it provides a more accurate representation of the colors you're trying to display (especially blacks!). If color accuracy and contrast are essential to you - whether for gaming, graphic design, or other professional use - then a glossy monitor may be a better choice.  

glossy vs matte perceived sharpness comparison

 Above: photos taken with a digital microscope capturing sub-pixel structure clarity (Source: TFTCentral 38

You will notice an enormous difference if you use the glossy monitor to play games. Quoted from Jacob Roach - journalist at Digital Trends

"From the moment I booted up Destiny 2, it was clear: This is the best HDR picture I've seen on a monitor. That should show just how powerful the monitor finish is on the final product. The contrast is deep and moody, the colors pop off the screen in a way I've never seen before, and the brightness is only rivaled by a display like the Alienware 34 QD-OLED." 

The Trade-off 

However, just like any other technology, there are trade-offs to consider based on your use case. Because glossy monitors reflect light without dispersing, so they can appear more distracting in brightly lit environments (i.e., it's more mirror-like compared to matte). If you often find yourself working or playing games in direct sunlight or under fluorescent lights, you may want to stick with a matte finish.  

glossy vs matte real life comparison

Above: Visual demonstration showing the difference in reflections (Source: Dave2D

Some gamers will prefer the look and feel of a matte monitor, while others will prefer the increased clarity of a glossy monitor. So, it comes down to personal preference, which is why we let you choose your coating when buying a Spectrum monitor.  

 

Summary 

We are very familiar with the glossy coating of TVs and mobile devices. However, it was not applied to gaming monitors until the Dough Spectrum. The implementation requires recalibration of the production line that gaming manufacturers are seemingly unwilling to commit to. But the beauty of our crowd development is that provided there is enough demand for it; we are here to make it happen. And we did. After extensive research on reflections, we had the fantastic opportunity to work on an exclusive glossy project with our display manufacturing partner, LG Displays. In December, we probed your interest in a glossy screen and got your strong support to make it. In February, we officially confirmed that we would offer glossy coating variants to our Spectrum line-up. Finally, we began shipping the first units out to our customers in July. If you're still undecided whether a glossy monitor is right for you, check out the detailed third-party reviews comparing the differences.  

Grab a glossy or matte monitor in Spectrum 4K 144Hz line to immerse yourself fully into the game-changing Spectrum experience.