An anti-glare screen is a screen that features a layer of coating that minimalizes reflections.
Just how effective is the anti-glare treatment depends on its haze value and the screen surface (matte or glossy).
Glare is the reflection of light from a source (such as the Sun) off of a window or a screen, which can make it hard to see what is happening on the display.
With the help of an anti-glare coating, these glare effects can be reduced.
However, they can also make the picture appear more fuzzy and grainy, depending on the haze value of the coating and the type of the screen surface.
Glossy vs Matte Screen Surface
There are two types of screen surfaces: matte (textured) and glossy (smooth).
Displays with matte screen finish and anti-glare coating diffuse light instead of reflecting it. This can make the picture appear somewhat grainy or fuzzy, but it efficiently prevents reflections.
There are anti-glare treatments with different haze values. A higher haze value means better reflection handling, but it also adds more graininess.
Ideally, you should look for displays with light or medium matte anti-glare coatings (25% haze) as they help with reflections without notably affecting the image quality.
Displays with a smooth or glossy screen finish are very reflective, but they have a more vivid picture quality as there’s no added graininess. So, if you decide to get a monitor with a glossy screen surface, you’ll have to mind the lighting in your room.
Some glossy screens also have low-haze (1-4%) anti-glare or anti-reflective treatments, which can help with the reflections without affecting the picture as much as matte coatings do, but they’re still quite reflective and hardly usable in very bright rooms (next to a window without curtains/blinds) or outdoors.
You might also run into ‘semi-glossy’ screens, but these actually have a matte finish that’s a bit smoother and has a low ~15% haze surface.
How To Choose The Right Screen
Sadly, monitor manufacturers don’t reveal much information about the type of screen surface or coating used.
It’s also hard to properly describe different types of coatings as it can be subjective; what’s too reflective or grainy to some, might be negligible to others.
However, it’s usually clearly noted if a monitor has a glossy screen and/or an anti-glare or anti-reflective treatment, but these types of displays are somewhat rare anyway.
As for matte screens, you most likely won’t find what type of matte anti-glare finish it has or any details regarding its haze value or surface smoothness/texture.
Philips is one of the rare companies that at least shows haze value for their monitors with anti-glare coatings.
In our reviews, we’ll always point out if a monitor has a glossy surface or a too grainy matte finish. Other times, assume it has either a light or medium/normal matte anti-glare coating.