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Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: San Jose, California, USA
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In actual fact, glossy and matte screens both reflect the same amount of light. The only difference is the angle at which the light is reflected. A glossy screen reflects a visible and clear image via "specular reflection", where there is but a single angle of reflection, equal to the angle of incidence. The matte screen reflects a diffused image - a lighted area - where there are a variety of angles of reflection. There are degrees of diffusion involved, glass screens with anti-glare treatments are all mildly suppressive of specular images at best - only plastic matte screens are true effective light diffusers.
I am among those people who prefer a full-on, matte screen with a heavy texture. I have a room that lacks total light control in daytime, and a spouse who sits on the opposite end of the same couch at night and works with papers and a reading lamp, or a laptop computer. (For her, watching video is a part-time experience, and I doubt if this will ever change.)
The heavy matte texture brings about a general lightening of the dark areas of the screen, due to the diffuse reflection of the matte screen surface. The television is tweeked for high ambient light in "standard" video mode, if I am watching alone and in the dark, I use the "movie" mode, a different calibration for darkness.
It's not really a serious compromise to have ambient light in the room. In fact, your pupils contract which tends to minimize any image distortions seen on screen, I find that my borderline 20/25 eyesight (slight astigmatism) gets a good clear image without glasses in ambient light, but I MUST wear the glasses in the dark or I lose a lot of detail. Your constricted pupils also darken the apparent black levels, which is the underlying principle of bias lighting. In this room, I don't have bias lighting - only light-colored walls and relatively high ambient lighting, which serves the same purpose of constricting your pupils.
In fact, it is in the dark that the compromised image from the matte screen texture is most visible, even with the HDTV tweeked for such viewing. The screen loses shadow detail when the emitted light is diffused, and your pupils wide open. But most often, it's me alone, watching just "one more show" wearing wireless headphones, after the wife has gone to bed. It's typically a non-critical viewing of both HD and SD TV shows on one of two DVRs, never a Blu-Ray or even a DVD, both of which I prefer to watch with surround sound during the day, and with the wife present.
We are actually talking about a lifestyle choice here - and what fits my lifestyle and works best in my home is a bright LCD with a full on matte screen. This HDTV and my simple 5.1 sound (or headphones) is what I use for 95+% of my viewing. In another part of my home I have a Home Theater with front projector and 100-inch screen and 7.1 channel surround sound. It sees relatively little use nowadays - although for a few years you would find me sitting there alone in the dark, revlling in the huge clear images and the breathtaking reference-level sound.
Truthfully, most of the time I'd rather be in the company of spouse or friends in the family room, watching the 46-inch HDTV with the vanilla 5.1 sound, and even that typically set 10db below reference volume level. It beats being a lonely video geek, sitting in the dark.
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