Reader Question: Are Shiny Screens Good?

Q: Can you tell me anything about the Samsung LN-T5271F LCD TV? It has a “shiny” screen. Is that a good feature?
Ralph Proodian

A: That’s a great question, Ralph. The specification sheet for the LN-T5271F describes it as having a “Super Clear Panel”. According to Samsung materials, this is designed to deliver “higher picture clarity and lower reflection”.

This is a feature that has been popular in notebook and computer monitor LCD screens for a few years. The typical LCD panel has a top diffuser layer. This serves to redirect some of the light from the panel in different directions, which can aid viewing angle performance. This also has the benefit of scattering ambient light from your room so that you don’t get harsh reflections on the screen. The downside of this is that light from brighter parts of an image and reflected ambient light appear in in other parts of the screen. This can cause the black level to increase, appearing more gray than black.

The “clear coat” screens use a much less powerful diffusing layer, and relies more on the LCD cell structure for viewing angle performance. On the downside, you may see more reflections in the screen, especially if you have a bright point source of light behind you such as a lightbulb or sunny window. On the plus side, however, the blacks will look deeper and darker. This is one of the keys to great color, as a low black level increases contrast, which in turn makes colors appear to “pop” from the screen.

The bottom line here is that if you can control the room lighting, these “clear coat” LCD panels will probably look better than a traditional panel design.