Laptops

Gentlemen prefer blondes. And shiny laptop screens

According to my sources, retailers have started refusing to stock more usable matte screens on the basis that they won't sell as well as their annoying glossy counterparts

I'm not sure who it was that coined the phrase "gentlemen prefer blondes" (it's the title of a book -Ed), but whoever it was deserves a medal. Don't get me wrong, I love brunettes and bald girls -- heck, even gingers can get a look in. But in my experience, the brighter and shinier something is, the more attention it gets.

Its not just me, either. Scientists have theorised that women in northern Europe evolved with light hair and blue eyes at the end of the Ice Age to stand out from the brunette hordes and attract mates. At this time both food and men were in short supply, meaning a large number of women were competing for a small number of males -- many of whom died while hunting things with sharp teeth and very bad breath.

As bizarre as it might seem, the same thing is happening in the world of laptop screens. In the old days, most portable displays had a matte finish, but today the vast majority look as if they've been dunked in an industrial vat of K-Y Jelly, then daubed in Vaseline for good measure.

Why the extra shinification? Because most humans -- not discerning individuals of taste and intelligence like yourselves, dear readers, but the idiotic general public -- are basically brainless magpies who yearn for bright objects, regardless of any real value. When they're walking down the aisle of their local computer store and are faced with the choice of a matte screen you can use in a variety of lighting conditions, and a glossy screen that's a better mirror than it is a display, most of them will opt for lube-o-vision every time.

The same is true of TVs. Most of them don't have glossy screens, but you can wager a large portion of your posterior that the brightness levels will be cranked right up to the maximum -- again, because this makes them stand out. Consumers think brightness equates to great image quality, just like they believe louder speakers are better speakers, and that the shinier the mobile phone they buy, the higher their chance of getting someone's phone number at the end of a rave.

Joking aside, this is a pretty serious situation. According to my sources, retailers have started refusing to stock matte screens on the basis that they won't sell as well as their glossy counterparts. Manufacturers, in turn, have all but given up making matte screens. What's the point when PC World won't stock them?

Instead, they've embraced the gloss culture. They've creating catchy marketing names like X-Black, TrueLife and IdiotShine. They ignore the fact that glossy screens are only ever ideal in rooms with perfectly diffuse lighting. They hide the fact that your eyes have to work harder to look past the reflections and that you'll have to crank the brightness up -- at the expense of battery life -- to counter those reflections.

So you see, my magpie friends, blondes really do have more fun. And as long as people make decisions based on instinct and not logic, long will this trend continue.