No-gloss zone: Matte-screen LCD TVs compared

CNET editors showcase the best-performing LCDs with matte screens.

LG's LW5600 series is the best-performing matte-screen TV we've tested this year. Sarah Tew/CNET

Much like birds building nests, people seem to like shiny objects. The truism holds, apparently, for laptop and LCD TV screens as well. Samsung was among the first TV makers to popularize the shiny, glossy screen with its LNA650 series, and we complained about it, albeit to no avail. The company expanded its gloss-coated reach to encompass most of its LCD screens, and many other makers followed suit.

The sole picture-quality advantage of glossy screens we've observed, at least when done correctly, is that they can in some cases preserve black-level performance--dark areas stay darker--in bright rooms with overhead lighting (think Best Buy) somewhat better than their matte cousins. In our book, that plus doesn't outweigh the big minus of a glossy screen: bright objects reflected therein, such as windows opposite the screen, lamps, or even lighter furniture and clothing worn by viewers, appear brighter, sharper, and more distracting than they do when reflected in a matte screen.

That's why, for bright-room viewing or situations where ambient light is difficult to control, we prefer LCD screens with a matte finish. If you do, too, check out the matte LCDs below.

Unfortunately no plasma TV since 2008 has had a matte screen, and while new antireflective materials might help, none handles glare as well as matte LCDs. Even less fortunately, the flagship (read: best-performing) LCDs from many makers, especially Sony and Samsung, sport glossy screens, so you might have to choose between superior bright-room (matte) and dark-room (glossy) performance. Hey, at least neither company charges extra for matte like Apple does.

Compare the matte-screen LED and LCD TVs.

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