Take Your Computer Outside and Work in the Sunlight

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With the advent of warmer weather, it would be nice to be able to do some of our work on a laptop outdoors where we could enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. A portable personal computer should allow you to work in all lighting conditions, whether inside or out. After all, the laptop was developed so that it could be taken on the road, as it were, but not all mobile computers are “sunlight readable,” which makes them pretty useless in bright sunshine.

You could always make sure you and your laptop or tablet are always in a shady spot outside but, now you can choose a mobile computer that allows you to use it outside in bright sunlight. In recent years, “sunlight readable” tablets and laptops have been developed so you can work outside, even in bright sunlight.

The name sunlight readable is self-explanatory but what, exactly, is involved in making a tablet or laptop usable in bright sunlight?

Man looking through ipad screen with additional computers around him.

Traditional vs. Sunlight Readable

Traditional portable laptops and tablets are useless in bright lighting conditions because of screen glare. Most LCD, LED and plasma displays are hard to see in high ambient light conditions. When taken outside on a bright day, the screen washes out and is barely visible to the human eye. The two primary reasons for this are as follows:

  • bright outdoor light severely reduces the contrast ratio of the monitor
  • there are reflections off of three surfaces, namely, the outer surface of the protective glass, the inner surface of the glass and the surface of the LCD screen

In contrast, sunlight readable monitors (SRM) on laptops and tablets produce quality full-colour images, full motion video and high screen brightness. With this technology, each of the LCD display pixels reflects the ambient light passing through the screen. The reflective mode contributes to the image in high ambient light conditions, allowing the backlight to be turned down or off, a unique capability that delivers significant battery power savings, an attractive screen and a comfortable reading experience with excellent resolution.

Sunlight readable monitors use more, or more powerful, backlights to increase the monitor’s brightness and this added brightness is enough to subdue the surrounding light and allow images to be seen clearly. They enable you to see sharp, clear video images even with bright sunlight directly on the screen.

Optical Bonding

Optically bonded monitors are yet another approach to the problem of the effect of bright sunlight on portable devices. This process involves injecting a clear, optical-grade resin into the gap between the LCD panel and the protective outer glass, bonding them together and filling the air gap between the two. Doing this eliminates two reflective surfaces. Then an anti-reflective coating is applied to the outside of the protective glass to minimize surface reflections, too.

Optical bonding results in a drastic reduction in reflections, (up to 98 percent) and keeps the monitor’s contrast ratio from deteriorating. The effect is a remarkable improvement in view-ability in bright sunlight.

Additional Benefits

Besides the improvement in outdoor image quality, optical bonding also affords several other important benefits, including:

  • improved strength
  • increased scratch resistance
  • improved safety because there’s less chance of broken glass
  • increased shock/vibration resistance
  • prevention of condensation and/or internal fogging
  • cost savings versus sunlight readable monitors

Optically bonded LCD monitors are ideal for use in a wide range of industries and applications, such as transportation, pipeline inspection, navigation, drilling rigs, outdoor kiosks, control towers, airplane cockpits, on ships/boats, as digital signage, in law enforcement and in the military.

Daylight readable monitors are perfect for use in bright conditions with indirect or reflected intense light. They feature a protective anti-reflective outer glass, along with optical bonding to eliminate internal reflections.


These types of mobile computers use 80 percent less power in reflective mode, yet deliver a better contrast ratio than most other portable LCD displays.

People who suffer from computer vision syndrome may also benefit from using one of these computers. Computer vision syndrome refers to eye and vision-related problems resulting from extended computer use. Sunlight readable tablets and laptops significantly reduce the LCD’s back lighting, which can be a cause of vision discomfort.  


Sunlight readable monitors cost more than standard LCD monitors, use more power and generate extra heat.

In Summary

Sunlight readable LCD monitors are the best choice in situations where the sun’s rays will be falling directly onto the face of the monitor, while optically bonded monitors work extremely well in bright daylight settings or where there will be a lot of bright, reflected light.

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