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I have two monitors sitting side by side in dual desktop mode, the VG2230wm and HP w2207. The VG2230wm has little to no reflection and when I stare at the HP w2207 I can see the employee behind me because the screen reflection is so intense. I've tried swapping monitor positions thinking it was the way the light was hitting the monitors but it wasn't.

I grabbed a few stats that I thought may be important in determining the amount of reflection given off and both monitors have nearly identical stats.

Is there a special coating on the monitor screen?

Different quality monitor glass?

VG2230wm stats:

  • Brightness: 280 cd/m2
  • Contrast Ratio: 700:1
  • Response Time: 5ms
  • Panel: Active Matrix, TFT LCD
  • Display Type: WSXGA+

HP w2207 stats:

  • Brightness: 300 cd/m2
  • Contrast Ratio: 1000:1
  • Response Time: 5ms
  • Panel: Active Matrix, TFT LCD
  • Display Type: WSXGA+


I downloaded the manual for the HP and it stated their monitors have Antiglare polarizer with hard coating (select models only)...

Viewsonic made my search a tad easier and listed Panel Surface: Anti-glare on their product page.

Anti-glare seems to be a generalized term used for all LCD monitors and doesn't specify whether a monitor is "glossy" or "matte".

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> Anti-glare seems to be a generalized term used for all LCD monitors and doesn't specify whether a monitor is "glossy" or "matte". Well, that's the ultimate conclusion. Mostly just a marketing scheme. – slhck Jul 29 '11 at 18:17
up vote 3 down vote accepted

About 10 years ago display manufacturers found that using a glossy or smooth finish on the screen (usually on a plastic cover over the actual glass) rather than the previous matte (many tiny bumps) finish resulted in an apparently greater level of contrast. That is, blacks looked blacker, whites were whiter. The trade-off was that these glossy screens are much more reflective than the matte finishes.

Think of it like a mirror. A good mirror will have a very smooth surface, in fact, all the components of a mirror are very smooth to order to reflect images in them accurately. If you ran sand paper over the mirror, making the surface bumpy, you'd, in effect, have a matte finish. Anything reflected in the mirror would be dispersed a little bit rather than being reflected directly to your eyes in the way they appear "normally". This would result in a fuzzy or slightly blurred image because small parts of it are being reflected off somewhere other than to your eyes.

When applied to LCD screens, a glossy finish results in much clearer reflectivity, just like a good mirror. Whether you like it or not, or whether you can adjust to it or not is entirely a matter of preference.

Personally, I prefer the glossy screens. The image appear to me to be clearer, especially when gaming or watching movies. However, the more clear reflections do bother people I know, and so they tend to use matte-finish screens.

It's entirely up to you.

If you're in a work environment, see if you can find out of someone else would trade you their matte screen for your glossy.

UPDATE with info on anti-glare: Antiglare can be both the simple method of a matte finish, or it can be coatings and glass quality levels. Glass reflects a little bit, even without a reflective surface adhered to it (like a mirror), this is primarly due to impurities on the surface of the glass. A freshly cleaned window will reflect less than a dirty one (though, ironically, the cleanness of the glass will also make what reflections it does create more clear), but it takes very special types of glass or special coatings to cut down on the natural reflectivity of glass.

When you look at someone's glasses, you can usually actually see the glass, even though both you and I would still say the glass was "clear". There are higher-end glasses that are so clear it can be difficult to actually see the glass in the glasses. If this glass were used in the manufacture of screens, it could have the benefits of a glossy screen high-contrast screen such as I prefer, without the headaches of strong reflections that cause many people to prefer the matte finish.

I'm not aware of screens that do this yet, as normal glass is more than adequate for most people, and a matte finish dimishes the clarity of the image so little as to be negligible.

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Why has this answer been down voted? It appears to be most thorough. I especially like the explanation of the surface texture. I ran my finger across the screen of the VG2230wm and it felt considerably rougher than the HP w2207. – payling Jul 29 '11 at 20:26
You can upvote it yourself, user29390. Also, if this is the most correct answer fitting your needs, you can select the Checkmark next to the voting buttons to accept it as the answer. If you have any clarifying questions, do not hesitate to add them and I'll do my best to answer. – music2myear Jul 29 '11 at 20:42
Obviously somebody downvoted all of the answers here (mine was, as well as Yitzchak's above). FWIW, you'll get a +1 from me, very thorough. – slhck Jul 29 '11 at 20:52

Monitors have either "glossy" or "matte" surfaces. Almost all laptop displays are glossy. As the names imply, the glossy screens are reflective and the matte ones aren't.

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This brings up an interesting question: why are laptop displays glossy, not matte? After all, they're the ones that really need it - I bring my laptop outside to work in the sun all the time, but when's the last time you took your monitor and PC outside? – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Jul 29 '11 at 21:46
@BlueRaja because the world is out to get us. :) My primary computer at the moment is a laptop and working in the sun is a royal pain. – Yitzchak Jul 31 '11 at 2:51

It's none of those stats that you posted, rather the characteristics of the "glass" (not really glass anymore).

Is there a special coating on the monitor screen?

Yes. More or less. It's what's in front of the actual LCD panel itself. This surface is meant to protect the display and, obviously, to let light from the back through, but scatter light from the front.

Why scatter? Imagine a mirror – you can only see yourself clearly because the light is thrown right back to where it came from. If it is scattered, you won't see any distinct reflection at all.

With more and more glossy screens out there, the less "light-scattering" these surfaces became. In essence, less light scattered means more glare and vice-versa.

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