June 03, 2018

Glass vs Reflective Film Smart Mirror Showdown



After upgrading my Smart Mirror from a reflective film mirror to a glass two way mirror, I thought it would be interesting to attempt a (semi) scientific comparison between the two types of mirror.

This test involves taking a bunch of pictures and rating the mirrors on a few categories. I decided to focus on transmission, reflection, and simplicity when evaluating each solution.

You can also checkout my album of comparison photos here to draw your own conclusions!


Transmission


For this test, I used two lighting conditions which I have called dark, and ideal. Additionally, I broke the rating down into two categories, bleed, and sharpness. Bleed describes how noticeable the edge of the monitor is, and sharpness describes how well defined the edges of the text appears.

Dark 

In the Dark test, I found the film performed much better. The letters are quite crisp, and the interface between the edge of the monitor and the glass is only a bit visible. The glass on the other had suffers from an overlapping reflection due to the thickness of the mirror, and the edge of the monitor is quite well defined.






Ideal

In the ideal lighting conditions, the film stayed basically the same sharpness, however the bleed of the monitor was reduced. The glass however improved dramatically. The extra reflection is gone and the text is extremely clear. The bleed is less visible, however still can be seen.

Scores:



TransmissionGlass /10Film /10
DarkBleed34
Sharpness36
IdealBleed68
Sharpness106

Reflection


The reflection test is simply a qualitative assessment of how clear the reflections are under the same lighting conditions, evaluated simply on clarity. In these images, it is clear that the glass mirror reflection is a significant improvement. The film results in a grainy and blurred reflection when compared directly to the glass.




Score:



ReflectionGlass /10Film /10
Clarity 103

Simplicity

Simplicity describes how easy it was to build the frame and attach it to the monitor. In this category, the film solution is a clear winner. Buying a frame and applying the film is a straightforward process, and the biggest challenge is finding a solution to mount the monitor to the frame (which also exists for the glass build). The glass on the other hand requires a custom built frame, which turned out to be a much more challenging project than I anticipated.


Score:


BuildGlass /10Film /10
Simplicity58

Summary


Overall, across six different tests, the glass mirror received 37 points and the film mirror received 35. So I have to recommend the glass, however it is an extremely close contest. In fact I think the most important take away from this test is that both mirrors have some clear strengths and weaknesses. If you're keen to start fast and spend as little money as possible, the film is a fantastic final product. 

If you're a perfectionist however, you're going to want to go for a glass mirror. Fortunately, even if you start with the reflective film, you can always upgrade to glass once you know the mirror has a permanent place on your wall.


Test CategoryDescriptionGlass /10Film /10
Transmission - DarkBleed34
Sharpness36
Transmission - IdealBleed68
Sharpness106
ReflectionClarity 103
BuildSimplicity58
Total:3735

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