It seems that all electronic retailers these days use movies to showcase their laptops. Movies are an easy way to attract attention, and also potentially hide many potential flaws in the display – flaws that would directly affect the use of these machines for work (assuming the majority of purchases are for work and not movie watching).

I question the ethics of this approach. I reckon it reduces the customers’ awareness of critical issues and dumbs down the decision-making process. The ability of a laptop to playback a movie “nicely” has little bearing on the suitability of the unit for reading and writing.

To the untrained eye, a movie would have to degrade quite significantly (large numbers of dropped frames or heavily pixelated visuals) to be noticeable. Otherwise the movement and sound cover up a slower processor quite well. Most consumers are not accustomed to ignore and audio visual and look objectively at pixelation, artefact, sync, sharpening and other technical aspects of video.

The rapid movement and bright/dark flickering of movies also hides one nasty side-effects of glossy screens – that of severe reflectivity. Reflections can make long periods of working tiring in many situations with lots of light.

Movies also hide the resolution of the display. Most users will not be able to tell the difference between various laptop displays when a movie is playing. When using a laptop for work, the resolution becomes more critical. The higher the resolution, the more you can see on your screen, and therefore the more productive you could potentially be. Less resolution means more scrolling.

Even the use of “full HD” is confusing as there are at least 2 official HD (high definition) video resolution standards (Wikipedia). A multitude of laptop display resolutions are able to encapsulate one or both of these standards – making those “full HD” as well.

I reckon if you are selling laptops primarily intended for work use, you should demo these units with work-related visuals. Perhaps with Office 2010 – that should immediately illustrate how much space is wasted by the Ribbon and the use of low-vertical-resolution screens.

Then again, perhaps consumers don’t really care that much? And that consumptions is more driven by bling and brand over and above utility?