Project: Spectrum | Reflecting on Reflections

srorb

Hey everyone,

In a previous topic we asked you about your thoughts on different display coatings. This week, we’re taking a deeper dive into this topic, trying to decipher if and how the various benefits and drawbacks affect you.

What We Use Now

The current Spectrum line-up makes use of a low-haze anti-glare coating to scatter external light as it hits the surface of the display. Breaking up the light in this way reduces the intensity of reflections and as such makes them less likely to interfere with the image on the screen.

This layer however, also affects the light emitted by the monitor itself. Because of this, the visible brightness is reduced, which also leads to slightly muted colors. A very close inspection will show that the individual pixels are slightly blurred, though the image is still clear.

It is a method that is commonly used in monitors as it is considered a worthwhile trade-off: You sacrifice a little sharpness, a little brightness, a little contrast… but in return, you get a lot less reflection to distract you from your content. Of course, we wouldn’t be who we are if we didn’t question whether the trade-off is really that worthwhile. That’s where today’s survey comes in!

Behind the Sc(re)en(e)s

When most people think of reflections, they think of specular reflection. Reflected rays of light emerge from a reflecting surface at the same angle to the incoming (‘incident’) rays, but on the opposing side. The smoother the reflecting the surface, the less distortion is applied to the reflected rays, and the more precise the mirror image is.

Specular reflectionExample

Smooth surfaces create specular reflection.
The light is reflected at the same angle, creating a mirror effect.
(images: Wikipedia)

Though you’d want as little distortion as possible when looking into a mirror, it can be used to our advantage in situations where reflections are unwelcome such as on a monitor’s surface. With a consistently uneven surface, light is intentionally scattered in different directions. As less of the incident light is reflected at the user, the reflections are less apparent. This method is referred to as haze. This uneven surface can be achieved by applying a coating like on the current Spectrum models, or by machining the surface itself like the cover glass on the new V.

Diffuse reflection

Haze creates a rough surface to scatter reflections.
The light is diffused in many directions, reducing reflections in any one direction.
(images: Wikipedia)

As mentioned in the previous section, haze comes with a trade-off: light coming from the other side of the surface (such as that from the monitor image) also has to pass through this uneven layer, and also gets scattered. This blurs the image somewhat, and reduces the light intensity leading to lower contrast, brightness, and color accuracy. Luckily, the LCD layer of the display is right up against the haze layer, limiting the blurring effect – Think of how something that is closely behind a pane of frosted glass is more clearly visible than something that is farther back from it.

Diffuse reflection

Haze also diffuses light coming from behind the surface, just like frosted glass.
This is why it affects the display’s image quality.
(image: Wikipedia)

The diffusing nature of haze reduces the intensity of reflected light, but spreads it across a wider surface. This helps greatly in reducing glare: reflections of intense light that interfere with the image on the screen. If the reflection is brighter than the contents of the screen, it will be clearly visible. For example, if you have a bright light behind you, you can expect a bright glaring reflection in the screen. Haze spreads this reflection over a wider surface, creating a larger, but less bright spot. If the remaining brightness is less than that of the image on the screen, the display will ‘win’, and the reflection will not be nearly as apparent. Because of this glare-reducing effect, haze treatments are often referred to as anti-glare.

Diffuse reflection

Reflections that are brighter than the displayed image cause visible glare.
(image: Rtings)

There are additional methods of reducing reflections that do not involve the scattering the reflections. Such surface treatments might disrupt the incoming light through multiple layers of different materials, greatly reducing the amount of light that is reflected at all and reducing visible reflections without blurring or dimming the displayed content. These treatments are generally marketed as anti-reflection.

The Trade-offs

Anti-reflection methods reduce the amount of light reflected from a surface. The trade-off for these effects is generally in the cost of the treatment, with the materials used varying in both effectiveness and price. Anti-glare methods apply haze to diffuse the reflected light which makes reflections less sharp and further reduces the brightest (and often most annoying) reflections: glare. The trade-off for these effects is generally the loss of contrast, brightness, color accuracy, and sharpness.

With that in mind, the key to the best possible customer experience lies in a careful blend of anti-reflection and anti-glare techniques.

Your experiences

How often do you experience specular reflection (mirror effect) in your monitor?
  • Never
  • Rarely
  • Regularly
  • Always

0 voters

How do you feel about specular reflection (mirror effect) in your monitor?
  • It does not bother me
  • It bothers me a little
  • I don’t care
  • It bothers me a lot
  • It is a dealbreaker

0 voters

How often do you experience glare highlights (sharp bright reflections) in your monitor?
  • Never
  • Rarely
  • Regularly
  • Always

0 voters

How do you feel about glare highlights (sharp bright reflections) in your monitor?
  • It does not bother me
  • It bothers me a little
  • I don’t care
  • It bothers me a lot
  • It is a dealbreaker

0 voters

How often do you experience diffused glare (larger washed-out reflections) in your monitor?
  • Never
  • Rarely
  • Regularly
  • Always

0 voters

How do you feel about diffused glare (larger washed-out reflections) in your monitor?
  • It does not bother me
  • It bothers me a little
  • I don’t care
  • It bothers me a lot
  • It is a dealbreaker

0 voters

How much control do you have over the placement of your workspace (desk, monitor, etc.)?
  • I can completely rearrange it
  • I can partially rearrange it
  • I cannot rearrange it

0 voters

How much control do you have over the light sources (lamps, windows, etc.) around your workspace?
  • I can completely rearrange them
  • I can partially rearrange them
  • I cannot rearrange them

0 voters

How important is it to you to increase the contrast ratio of your monitor?
  • It needs to be as high as possible at all costs
  • It needs to be as high as reasonably possible
  • Higher is nice, but it’s not a priority
  • I don’t care

0 voters

Since we’re on the topic, how do you feel about maximum brightness?
  • It needs to be as high as possible at all costs
  • It needs to be as high as reasonably possible
  • Higher is nice, but it’s not a priority
  • I don’t care

0 voters

And conversely, how about the minimum brightness (darker blacks)?
  • It needs to be as low as possible at all costs
  • It needs to be as low as reasonably possible
  • Lower is nice, but it’s not a priority
  • I don’t care

0 voters

How important is it to you to increase the color gamut (range) of your monitor?
  • It needs to be as high as possible at all costs
  • It needs to be as high as reasonably possible
  • Higher is nice, but it’s not a priority
  • I don’t care

0 voters

How important is it to you to increase the color accuracy of your monitor?
  • It needs to be as high as possible at all costs
  • It needs to be as high as reasonably possible
  • Higher is nice, but it’s not a priority
  • I don’t care

0 voters

How important is it to you to increase image sharpness of your monitor?
  • It needs to be as sharp as possible at all costs
  • It needs to be as sharp as reasonably possible
  • Sharper is nice, but it’s not a priority
  • I don’t care

0 voters

How important is it to you to keep down the price of your monitor?
  • It needs to be as cheap as possible at all costs
  • It needs to be as cheap as reasonably possible
  • Performance and specifications should not suffer too much for cost savings
  • Performance and specifications are key, whatever the price
  • I don’t care

0 voters

Which features of a monitor’s finish are most important? (pick up to 3)
  • Reduction of specular reflection (mirror effect)
  • Reduction of glare highlights (sharp bright reflections)
  • Reduction of diffused glare (larger washed-out reflections)
  • As little impact as possible on contrast
  • As little impact as possible on color reproduction
  • As little impact as possible on sharpness
  • As little impact as possible on price

0 voters

Which features of a monitor’s finish are least important? (pick up to 3)
  • Reduction of specular reflection (mirror effect)
  • Reduction of glare highlights (sharp bright reflections)
  • Reduction of diffused glare (larger washed-out reflections)
  • As little impact as possible on contrast
  • As little impact as possible on color reproduction
  • As little impact as possible on sharpness
  • As little impact as possible on price

0 voters

For what do you use your monitor?
  • PC Gaming
  • Media consumption
  • Office work
  • Console gaming
  • Media creation
  • Other

0 voters

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