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Is there a way to have a "matte" finish applied to a MacBook Pro with a "glossy" display?
When Apple introduced the 15-Inch "Late 2008/Unibody" MacBook Pro models -- the MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.4 15" (Unibody) and MacBook Pro "Core 2 Duo" 2.53 15" (Unibody) -- only with "glossy" displays some users were frustrated by the lack of a "matte" display option. Subsequent 13-Inch and 15-Inch MacBook Pro models also were only offered with a glossy display until August 11, 2009, when Apple began offering the 15-Inch models with a matte option again.
Film Application Options
In an effort to cater to users irritated by glossy displays, at least two companies -- Photodon and Power Support -- started offering 15-Inch MacBook Pro "anti-glare films" for relatively inexpensive prices (subsequently discontinued). Both companies offer a variety of other anti-glare films for the 13-Inch MacBook models and other Apple products with glossy displays as well.
So does the Anti-Glare Film work as expected? The simple answer is "yes." And nicely, at that. So nicely that we've been chuckling at recent news reports of other matte screen solutions -- that one company is now charging [US]$200 to replace the MacBook Pro's screen with a matte version, for instance, or that Apple wants [US]$50 extra to give 17" MacBook Pro users a matte screen instead of a glossy one. While [US]$35 for this film isn't cheap, it's a lot more reasonable than other available options, and achieves similar results.
Hardware Replacement Option
The "US$200 option" inferred above refers to a "Matte Finish Screen Upgrade" service from TechRestore (subsequently discontinued). For US$199.99, the company included:
Replacement of the super glossy, super shiny LCD screen on your MacBook Pro with a matte finish, non-glossy screen. We also remove the shiny glass cover on your MacBook Pro and replace it with a black bezel that surrounds the matte finish screen.
It was a serious commitment to have a fully-working glossy display replaced -- and invalidates the Apple display warranty (TechRestore provided a one-year warranty on the display the company installs) -- but MacWorld's Rob Griffiths was pleased to discover the option:
If glossy bothers you a lot, as it does me, but you really really want a new 15-inch MacBook Pro (TechRestore told me it's working on something similar for the 13-inch MacBook line), you might want to check out the TechRestore program. Sure, it's more money than is an anti-glare filter, but the end result appears to be well worth the investment.
Conclusion & More Recent Options
If you are the steady and patient type able to carefully apply a protective sheet to the display on a camera or iPod -- and find a glossy display to be a bigger distraction than the substantial likelihood of a few (or many) "air bubbles" -- you could consider buying anti-glare film for a 15-Inch "Unibody" MacBook Pro (naturally, after Apple began offering the option on August 11, 2009, it would make more sense to just configure a new system with a matte display option from Apple).
Prior to August 11, 2009, if you seriously detested glossy displays with a passion and would have rather incurred considerable expense and discard the Apple display warranty than be forced to use a glossy display -- and didn't consider purchasing a new 17-Inch "Unibody" MacBook Pro or a used 15-Inch MacBook Pro with an Apple provided matte display to be viable options -- the TechRestore solution might have been worth considering. After August 11, 2009, it is no longer needed.