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Wednesday, July 15, 2009, 08:00 am PT (11:00 am ET)

Apple may extend antiglare display option to more Macs

Apple made a bold move roughly two years ago to begin transitioning its entire Mac product line away from matte displays and towards glass-enclosed glossy ones, but the company may be nearing a concession that these shiny, highly-reflective screens may not be for everyone.

The Cupertino-based company is currently mulling the possibility of extending antiglare display options to more of its Macs — a feature now only available on the 17-inch MacBook Pro — according to people who have proven familiar with the company's plans. Though speculative at this time, it would appear that the 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pros would be the most likely candidates to receive antiglare options.

The transition towards glossy displays appears to have been sparked by the original iPhone, whose glass touchscreen and black border resonated well with customers. The reception was favorable enough that Apple, in a bid to push the envelope and standardize materials across its product families, gave similar treatment to its iMac line a few months later.

Further emboldened, Apple announced in October its new line of unibody notebooks would also forgo matte displays for glossy ones, with the exception of a $50 antiglare option on the pricey 17-inch MacBook Pro. These new displays "provide crisp images and vivid colors which are ideal for viewing photos and movies," Apple said, "and the edge-to-edge cover glass creates a smooth, seamless surface."

Not everyone was thrilled with the move, especially those members of Apple's core professional video and image editing communities, who argued that the glossy displays tend to complicate color matching. Others are indifferent to this effect, but just can't stomach the glare given off by the glossy screens. Some are road warriors who take their notebooks on different assignments each day, and sometimes find themselves at sunny sporting events, unable to escape the reflective properties of the screens.

Whatever the case, Apple appreciates the concern, as it did with the outrage over the brief absence of FireWire on its 13-inch notebook offerings. The Mac maker has been following the numerous petitions and online threads dedicated to the display matter and hears their customers' collective voice, those familiar with the matter say.

MacBook Pro Compare

A glossy unibody MacBook Pro side-by-side with a previous-gen matte MacBook Pro | Source: Flickr user Loustechworld


In the meantime, customers averse to the glossy displays are left with only a couple of options. They can plunk down the extra change for a 17-inch MacBook Pro with the antiglare option, or send their glossy MacBook Pro to solutions provides like TechRestore, which offers a third-party matte screen replacement program for $200.

"GlareBook Pro?" their Web site chides. "We don’t think so."

Still, Apple's glossy displays offer their advantages and are here to stay for the foreseeable future. In addition to being easier to clean, they produce brighter, richer colors and deeper blacks, for a crisper overall image. These traits play well to the company's offerings, all of which cater to consumers' digital lifestyles.

For more on Apple's glossy displays, see page two of AppleInsider's in-depth unibody MacBook Pro review.