Sep 2018

Some Experiments With Outdoor Visibility


I have three devices:

  • Apple Macbook Pro 15", mid-2014
  • Apple IPad 10.5 Pro, late 2017
  • Dell XPS 15 9570, mid-2018, 1080p display

They are placed roughly in the same location and position. The location itself was shaded. I am looking at them from straight-on ahead. All devices had their brightness fully cranked up to maximum.

I photographed all three devices with a 2-year old Google Pixel.

The photographs are nicely indicative, but my subjective impression is that the screens looked a little better in real life than in the photographs. They also show that there are differences, but also that these differences are not great.

Individual Photographs


Next to One Another (Different Vertical Angles)

Subjective Opinion

All three devices were reasonably but not pleasantly usable. There were differences, but they were not like night and day.

The Dell XPS15 was a little better, primarily due to its integrated matte screen. (Third-party matte screens for iPads and Macbooks do not seem to work. I tried.)

Unlike the glossy screens, the XPS 15 remained usable in full sunshine. Of course, full sunshine on a display is not a great use scenario, but it's nice to know that it still works in a pinch.

Again, in real life, the XPS screen looked a little better than it does in the photograph. It really would be usable.


  • All three devices would benefit from higher brightness outdoors.
  • Apple devices would benefit from a matte-screen option.
  • Dell XPS-15's would benefit from a 2K display. 1K is too low, 4K is too high (and glossy!).

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