Wednesday, September 9, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]

iMac’s Nano-Textured Glass

Mark C:

Side-by-side, you can actually see the reflective differences between the two screens.

Looks great, but I thought the old matte displays were fine without the price premium.

Previously:

Update (2020-09-22): Dave Wiskus:

I got the nano and non-nano-textured XDR displays so I could pick a winner and return the loser.

Nano-textured is going back. Easy choice.

Nano looks fuzzy and sparkly. Like someone spilled something on the screen and didn’t quite clean it all off. I’m told this is great for high-glare environments, but in my office it looked terrible. Crazy that Apple calls this an upgrade.

9 Comments

It’s the Mac version of re-inventing ear buds so they cost $160 and need to be replaced every two years.

I recently bought an entire LG 4K 27" monitor which has "Anti Glare 3H coating" (whatever that is) for $150 LESS than the cost of Apple's matte nano treatment alone. Even in the brightest room with a huge window in the middle of the day, I can't see any reflections in it. The image quality is certainly as good as a comparable glossy iMac screen with the benefit of not seeing my entire office environment reflected within my Mac UI.

What Apple has done since they removed the regular matte option years ago is sell screens with glare that the majority of users don't want (seriously, who wants to see themselves reflected in their screen?) and then charge exorbitant amounts of money to remove what is essentially a product defect. It's no different than including base configurations with HD and RAM that's too little for practically anyone to use (or worse, including a spinning drive until March 2020!) and then charging 4-8x the *retail* price to upgrade to an average acceptable level of capability which one might reasonably expect to be sufficient for 2-3 years into the future (that iMac RAM that Apple charges you $600 cost them less than $75). They know nobody wants these ridiculous limitations, so they're charging a huge premium for people to upgrade to the next tier up just to get a machine that will last a few years. Elon Musk isn't so stupid to make a Telsa that only goes 30 miles on a charge. Why is Tim Cook?

Yes, Apple has had these sorts of premiums in the past. But there was a time when their prices seemed more reasonable, when they weren't so dominant and their future wasn't so certain and had to compete harder (10-15 years ago?), when prices for PCs in general were much higher. But gouging people for RAM and HD space which are dirt cheap nowadays is not the world we live in, especially when Apple combines it with intentionally making their products non-upgradeable after purchase (plus not updating their products for YEARS at a time, so you still pay the same premium price at the end of a product cycle even though all the tech inside is 2-3 years old). It's really nefarious and yet another example of why I've soured on Apple in the past 5 years.

I think these actually are genuinely better than the old matte screens, which often had poor black levels, and were slightly blurry, since the light coming out of the screen also got strongly deflected. But I haven't seen anyone actually compare the two.

What Apple has done since they removed the regular matte option years ago is sell screens with glare that the majority of users don’t want (seriously, who wants to see themselves reflected in their screen?)

I doubt it. I think most people do prefer the way that colors pop on an unfiltered glass screen. And they don’t look that way because they’re oversaturated, but because a filter that makes the colors inaccurate has been removed.

(Do they dislike reflections? Yes, of course.)

I think these actually are genuinely better than the old matte screens, which often had poor black levels, and were slightly blurry, since the light coming out of the screen also got strongly deflected. But I haven’t seen anyone actually compare the two.

Hard to compare since those also had worse backlighting by today’s standards (and probably worse panels).

But yes, it stands to reason that the 2000s’ technique of a matte filter weren’t as good as nanotexture technique.

I don’t think this is a case of “Apple creates a problem, and then an expensive solution for it”, but rather “Apple chooses a different, more popular tech with a new tradeoff, and now has an expensive solution for that tradeoff”.

When it was an option, I bought the MacBook Pro with anti-glare screen, but also in part because it offered a higher resolution. I’m not most people, though. Or even most MacBook Pro users. I imagine a lot of those work in the photo/video/graphic design area, where the color reproduction of the old matte displays probably wasn’t great.

Curiously, trustworthy German IT publisher Heise reports a noticeable reduction in sharpness. That contradicts the glowing report here.

https://www.heise.de/news/iMac-2020-im-ersten-Test-Schnelle-Prozessoren-mattes-Display-4889635.html

Unfortunately, it’s not a good time for a first hand check at the Apple Store (if they even have one on display).

> I think most people do prefer the way that colors pop on an unfiltered glass screen.

I dunno, I remember a lot of complaining when they got rid of the matte option. If it was the opposite where getting the glossy "more accurate" version cost $500, do you seriously think anyone but the most discerning graphic designers would pay for it? I don't. Most people don't want to see their office environment reflected in the screen -- I mean, why would you?

And it seems like by making this nano option $500 it's basically only for graphics professionals who can justify the cost. Isn't that in itself an admission that pros actually do prefer matte screens?

For general computing work I find matte screens much more pleasant and easier to look at for longer periods of time. If I look at my new LG 4K monitor with a matte screen vs my MBP Retina glossy displaying the same photo, I don't actually see much difference. The colors on the MBP have maybe 2% more "pop" or whatever, but honestly that could just be a result of the color profile or gamma or something that I could adjust anyway.

$500 for a nano screen is in the same category of selling $600 wheels, $75 worth of RAM for $600, and $1,000 for a monitor stand. Instead of being the "computer for the rest of us, if you have a little bit more money to spend" they've deluded themselves into thinking they're Louis Vuitton even though they're selling Ralph Lauren.

When was the last time Apple innovated anything on the Mac? Wheels and nano coatings are not innovative. Microsoft may have not hit any home runs yet with its Surface line, but at least they're trying.

Don't get me wrong, one reason I switched to Windows laptops was because I could get matte screens on them, so I'm all in favor of matte screens. But the reality is that when people go to a showroom and look at screens, the glossy ones just look better. Sure, when they're sitting at home at the kitchen table trying to actually type something into Word with the window front in their back, it's going to be a terrible experience, but I'm pretty sure the reason Apple switched to glossy screens is because they sell better.

It's the old "people buy the TV with where the screen is set to the brightest option, and saturation is turned all the way up" problem.

So I think it's totally fine to give people their glossy screens, and charge extra for the matte treatment. Charging fricken 500$ to make the screen actually usable is an insult to Apple's customers, though.

Dave's take needs to be taken with a grain of salt. I asked him how nano-texture compares to matte displays from Apple's early 2000s pre-glossy era, and he said it's about the same. He also said "Non-nano looks like an iPhone screen. Just beautiful".

For those of us who have hated glossy from the beginning, "like an iPhone screen" is hardly an endorsement. We're fine with going back to how things were before glossy. The price premium definitely sucks, but we've been waiting over a decade to get matte back, so the price is worth it.

I have a nano-textured screen. It's neither fuzzy nor sparkly. No idea what this is about. It's just a fancy matte screen, which looks perfectly fine to me. I didn't have major glare issues, but I still prefer matte to shiny.

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