The new Apple computer lineup is touting its aluminum and glass enclosures everywhere, and the glass display cover has quite a reputation as being far too reflective. Even those of us who didn’t mind the glossy screen of the previous generation might change our tune with the glass enclosure. The machines currently using this include the new MacBook, MacBook Pro 15″, and the iMac.
What I did not realize was that the iMac’s glass screen is easily removable, as evidenced by this video. Apparently, the cover is attached by magnets to the display housing.
There’s no immediately obvious reason to believe that this is also the case in the portable lineup, and I’m not sure if it’s been attempted yet (I would rather not try). I don’t think it’s obviously the same because the demands on portables are different enough from the (more or less) stationary iMac such that the portables may have to be more resilient and have fewer dislodgeable parts. However, Apple’s use of magnets to solve little problems is widely known, from the Titanium PowerBook that used some 7 magnets to hold the keyboard down, to the current portables, which utilize magnets as a display latch.
For the iMac, and possibly for the MacBook and MacBook Pro 15″, this glass is so easily removable, that there’s a good chance that creating a matte finish cover would not be terribly difficult to manufacture after-market. It’s unclear what the optical benefits would be immediately, but surely someone is testing this out. Could Apple have addressed the glossy versus matte debate simply by creating a new market for display cover replacements? Already people are resorting to using anti-glare films from companies like Photodon and Power Support USA. But this is quite an elegant solution that may drive their manufacturing costs down significantly and provide their end users with a choice.
It does mean that the default is the highly reflective glass screen, but it’s probably the case that consumers largely don’t care. But those in the print industry seem to care quite a bit, and they may have to add this aftermarket cost in addition to the Mini DisplayPort adapters and Apple remotes that they’re already paying dearly for.