TLDR: Anti-glare screens don’t reflect light as well as glossy screens. Anti-glare screens are comfortably visible even with indirect sunlight hitting the screen. Glossy screens are so adept at reflecting light, even minor amounts of sunlight can produce irritating amounts of glare, but have richer colors in exchange.
Glare makes it more difficult to see what’s on the screen. Anti-Glare screen coatings are sometimes used to reduce the amount of glare, but at a cost. A glossy display has a better visual acuity because the glossy screen is better at reflecting light. A glossy display has more contrast, color, and deeper blacks.
But the moment a beam of sunlight hits the display, you’ll see a reflection that’s impossible to ignore. While sunlight is the worst case scenario, sometimes even house lights can trigger this effect in an undesirable way. Anyone who has been on the receiving end of this can tell you just how frustrating it can be to no longer be able to see your screen.
Similarities With Glossy And Matte Displays
Both types of display use the same LCD technology. The only difference is what type of coating is applied to the finished screen. In perfectly controlled circumstances, glossy and matte are actually very similar. This similarity is part of what makes it so hard to choose.
In general, in a controlled environment where you don’t have to worry about the sun bearing down on your monitor, a glossy screen is what you want. If you’ve got your monitor next to a window with direct sunlight pouring in several hours a day, or you’re in a very well-lit area, you’ll want to stick with an anti-glare screen instead.
Which Should You Buy?
If you have a room that isn’t extremely bright, and at the whims of the sun half of the day, then there’s no question — you want a glossy screen. If you’re looking for deep, rich colors, you’ll get the best possible visual display with a glossy screen. But frankly, many people don’t have the controlled environment necessary to make a glossy screen a sensible choice. Many people have fallen victim to seeing the gorgeous glossy display in an electronics store, only to take it home and discover it’s totally unmanageable. If your computer resides anywhere near a window, you’ll want to guess and second-guess whether or not you can comfortably use a glossy display.