Where Are All the Glossy Monitors? An Early Look at Eve’s New Spectrum 4K Glossy Edition

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Originally published 16 February 2022, last updated 10 March 2022

Disclaimer: Eve sent us this sample for pre-production testing and analysis including paid consultancy services. This included measurements of performance and feedback on the product. All analysis, testing and opinions throughout this article remain our own.

Image courtesy of Eve

Introduction

In December 2021 we completed an in-depth review of the Eve Spectrum 4K monitor, the World’s first crowd-developed monitor offering an impressive set of specs and features and some very good performance as well. The Spectrum 4K is 27” in size and offers an Ultra HD “4K” (3840 x 2160) resolution Nano IPS panel, combined with a high 144Hz refresh rate. As well as this desirable 4K @ 144Hz spec, there is NVIDIA G-sync and AMD FreeSync support, a wide colour gamut with 98% DCI-P3 coverage, VESA DisplayHDR 600 support and modern connectivity options like USB type-C and HDMI 2.1 offered. It represented a wish list of features, specs and performance gathered from a community of enthusiasts and buyers over a two-and-a-half-year period.

We were impressed by the performance of the Spectrum 4K, and Eve have now more recently given us an advanced sneak peak of the new option they are now developing for their Eve Spectrum 4K monitor. This is an option to add a glossy screen coating to the screen instead of the normal matte anti-glare coating, something that Eve have had loads of requests for from their community. In fact, 96% of 1417 voters on their website wanted to see a glossy option.

Where are all the glossy screens?

There’s quite a big market for glossy screens, and it’s something you commonly see consumers asking for. Not everyone likes them, and we will discuss the pros and cons in a moment, but you will definitely find many people who want a glossy coated screen. For many, once you’ve used a glossy screen it’s hard to go back!

Over the years we’ve seen a few monitors venture in to this space, probably of most note would be Apple’s displays including many iMac models. Glossy coated laptops are far more common, and in the TV market glossy screen coating is the norm. It is a little odd that we don’t see more glossy options in the monitor market really.

Image courtesy of Eve

Glossy vs. Matte and our testing of the ‘Eve Spectrum 4K glossy’

Eve have sent us what we will refer to for now as the ‘Eve Spectrum 4K glossy version’. They wanted to give us a sneak peak of a pre-production sample and get our initial thoughts, and also the thoughts from you, our readers, on the new version. We have been using the new screen side by side with the original Spectrum 4K – matte edition with normal light Anti-Glare (AG) coating, and comparing the image quality and performance.

The screen and stand are physically identical to the original matte edition, apart from of course the screen coating. The specs, features and capabilities are all the same as the matte edition. It is for all intents and purposes the same screen, but now with a glossy screen coating option. It’s using the same LG.Display Nano IPS basically, but updated exclusively for Eve with a glossy panel coating. This change had to be done by LG.Display as the coating is an integral part of the panel, it couldn’t simply be added by Eve themselves.

Image courtesy of Eve

If you’ve ever used a glossy monitor or laptop, and had chance to compare it side by side with a normal matte / AG (Anti-Glare) coated model, you will probably have seen the differences for yourself. A glossy screen offers a small but noticeable improvement to picture quality and sharpness, and can make the image “pop” quite nicely.

Improved Text Sharpness and Image Quality

Some of this is hard to capture with instrument measurements, and you really need to consider subjective assessment or try and see a glossy vs matte screen yourself to see the difference. The text clarity and sharpness of the original Spectrum 4K was already very good, being a 27” 4K model with a high pixel density. But side by side you could see that the glossy edition offered an improvement to the sharpness of text.

We captured this as best we could with a camera as shown below, along with a digital microscope for really close-up analysis. The glossy version is at the top, the matte AG version is at the bottom. The edges to the text were a bit sharper and clearer on the glossy panel and you can see the AG version has a small amount of blur to the edges, caused by the AG coating. Even though the Spectrum 4K is from a modern generation of IPS panel with a “light AG” coating, there is still a little graininess or haze that impacts the image. It’s only really when you switch to using a glossy coating and experience the clearer and cleaner image that you see the impact the AG coating has. It’s not huge, but it is there.

Above: Text clarity and sharpness comparison – glossy version at the top, AG coated version at the bottom
Image zoomed in on normal font of 11-point size.

We also took photos using a digital microscope to take an even closer look at the text rendering. You can see the sharper and clearer edges to text on the glossy screen on the left, whereas the AG coating introduces some blurring to the lettering, especially along the edges. You can see that at this close up view, the sub-pixel layout is also visible, and this looks clearer and sharper on the glossy panel, and more blurred on the AG coated panel.

Above: photos taken with a digital microscope capturing optimal sharpness of text close up on glossy version (left) and regular matte AG coated version (right)


We can take this a step further and zoom in to the actual sub-pixels and see how much clearer these look on the glossy panel. The sub-pixels are sharper, clearer and more easily distinguishable, removing the blurring and haziness of the AG coating on the right.

Above: photos taken with a digital microscope capturing sub-pixel structure clarity on glossy version (left) and regular matte AG coated version (right)

Improved Perceived Contrast and Colours

Image courtesy of Eve

Text sharpness and image clarity are one area where you can see the difference. The other is in the appearance of colours and especially blacks. On the normal AG coated version, the coating causes a bit of haze to the image and on black content in particular this can make it look a bit greyer in appearance to the naked eye.

We took measurements using our range of calibration tools which showed that the measured black depth and contrast ratio was comparable between both versions of the screen (assuming the same settings). However, side by side you can see in practice the difference in black depth between the two models with the glossy version looking cleaner and clearer. The blacks “pop” a bit more and this gives the impression of an enhanced contrast ratio, even if actual measurements show it is the same. This is really difficult to capture in any quantitative way with any of the tools or methods we have access to, but subjectively you can see this improvement with the glossy coating.

The same thing applies to colours. We measured the same colour space from both screens and barring a few minor differences in setup (the glossy version we tested had yet to go through a factory calibration process), the data shows the two screens perform the same. However, the glossy coating makes the colours look a little more vivid, and they pop more which again enhances the user experience.

What about reflections?

There’s no denying there are some nice benefits to using a glossy coated screen. Improved sharpness and picture quality, and a perceived improvement to colours and contrast with a cleaner and clearer image. The one thing that often puts people off a glossy monitor is the added reflections though.

You do need to be mindful of this, and glossy screens are not for everyone. We didn’t really find much issue with using the screen ourselves, but be careful about the positioning of your screen and light sources. If you have windows or lamps that face the screen they can be a bit problematic. The same can be said for using glossy laptops and TV’s of course so hopefully this is something you can easily judge.

The below picture below shows me taking a photo of the screen from above while the screens are on the floor, trying to avoid capturing any other reflections from walls, lights etc. This gives a good demonstration of the difference in reflections on both screens. You can see the AG coating on the left makes the reflection hazier, and eliminates quite a lot of it. On the glossy coated version on the right the reflection is clearer and more noticeable.

Above: reflection handling of the AG coated screen on the left, vs the glossy coated screen on the right

Have your say too

You can provide your thoughts and views on this concept for a glossy edition of the Spectrum 4K, or ask questions by joining in the discussion here on Eve’s website. You can also sign up to the Eve newsletter here for updates and more information about pricing and availability. Finally, Eve are also running a competition to celebrate the launch of this screen where you can win an NVIDIA RTX 3070 Ti, you can find out how to enter here.

Update: Pricing, availability and ordering details

The Eve Spectrum 4K Glossy is now officially available to order from Eve. The glossy coating is an add-on to the current Spectrum 4K model and will cost an additional $99 USD. Eve say that this represents the additional labour associated with its production. This means the total price of the screen with this glossy coating is $898 USD (without the stand).

In regards to availability and shipping expectations, Even say We are working to get the coveted monitors to your desks as soon as possible. Since Eve Spectrum 4K is a successfully completed project and the product is steadily shipping to customers, we will be prioritizing the production and shipping of our 4K variant first. We are happy to announce that we have already secured the initial (limited) production quantity. The first 1000 Eve Spectrum 4K with glossy coating are estimated to start shipping in June 2022.”

Eve are also offering a process to upgrade any existing in-flight order of the Spectrum 4K to the glossy edition if the buyer wishes. They say that they will be reaching out to all interested customers by email to outline what the possibilities are based on the status of your specific order.”

Video courtesy of Eve

You can order the screen from Eve here


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