Photo credit: dschulian (Flickr)
So you’ve just shelled out Â£500+ for your new iPadÂ / iPhoneÂ (or any mobile device for that matterÂ with a high value attached to it) … what’s the first thing you should do? Install some apps on it,Â Â watch BBCÂ iPlayer, or maybe take it round to your mates to show off? ALLÂ WRONG – You need toÂ prioritiseÂ the protection of yourÂ investment as soon as possible after purchase.Â The easiest way you can do this is (after purchasing an appropriateÂ case) is getting a suitableÂ screen protector – I’m positiveÂ that I don’tÂ need to explain the thought process behind this!!
This isn’t going to be an in-depthÂ scientific essay, however more of aÂ quick reference which I hope you can refer to in selecting the right screen protector for any of your mobile devices and the pros and cons you can expect with any such selection. You’ll be surprised that while all screen protectors in essence will protect your device’sÂ screen from scrapesÂ & scratches, all will actually have potentially undesirable side-effects.
Right, there’s 2 main flavours in the screen protector universe, Anti-Glare & Crystal Clear (yes they are completely different!)Â – I’m going to evaluate both of these protector types below:
Description: Designed to diffuse direct glare from the sun or artificial light to avoidÂ reflecting offÂ a shiny screen and into your eyes. Surfaces are usually done to a matt finish and look ‘frosty’ when material is held up to light
– Your deviceÂ will beÂ a heck of a lotÂ easier to read in direct sunlightÂ / highly illuminatedÂ artificialÂ light areas
– A nice smooth but not slipperyÂ under fingerÂ feeling for touch screen devices
– Reduces visible signs of fingerprints on your device
– Can be thicker than ‘Crystal Clear’ screen protectors
– CanÂ severelyÂ reduce the visual clarity/quality of your device. Due to the nature of the diffusion used to refract theÂ incoming light I’ve noted that this can cause a rather fuzzy result on theÂ display this is especially notable with bright colours such as white.Â This is extremely annoying once you’ve noticed this and has previously led me to purchase an alternative protector
– Finger prints do show up at some viewingÂ angles, albeit are far less noticeable than on a screen with no protector at all
Description: Designed to reduceÂ interferenceÂ with screenÂ clarity/quality to a minimum, while (obviously) protecting your screen at the same time
– Premium ‘Crystal Clear’ screen protectors will hardly, if at all interfere with your visual experience. They should do exactly what they say on the tin – see recommended brands below
– Tend to be quite a bit thinner than their Anti-Glare counterparts
– In direct sunlight these protectors do little to help with glare so may not suit someone who does a lot of fieldwork in a sunny climate
– Finger prints can be an issue and you may find yourself reaching for your microfibre cloth more oftenÂ than you’d like
– Some brands can exhibit a slippery surface feeling, which might be fine for some apps like highly interactiveÂ games but might reduce overall grip of the device causing you toÂ inadvertentlyÂ drop it!
With the explanations,Â pros and consÂ out of the way I’mÂ brieflyÂ going to discuss 2 manufacturers for which I’ve had a personal experience with or know of someone who’s had extensive use of their products:
Zagg InvisibleShield – These guys you’ve probably heard of already, theyÂ aggressively market their products as being the most durable.Â An example of their marketing is approaching peopleÂ via social networks such as Twitter, an example of such communication which was sent to Rob earlier this month is below – Rob had recently commented that heÂ scratchedÂ his screen, ironically this happened after he had removed his Zagg protector reasons for which I’ll cover below.
I’ve been using Zagg products on both my iPhoneÂ & Â iPad for a little over 8 months now on the whole I’m pleased with it. The patented material they use to protect your screen is near in-penetrable, does not affect screen quality and has a nice grippy feel to it -Â In addition they offer a life-time warranty as long as you pay for the postage of the replacement InvisibleSheild and send the knackered/compromised one back (I’ve had to do this twice).
Now there is unfortunately a darker side to Zagg, firstly their customer service is extremely robotic with very cold and canned responses. They also take an absolute age to reply (usuallyÂ around a weekÂ which is far from acceptable). Zagg products are also more difficult to install as you have to use a special fluid to stop fingerprints sticking to the adhesive side of the protector during installation, you also cannot remove and reapply an InvisibleShield, if you screw up the installÂ you’ll either have to chance it through the lifetimeÂ guaranteeÂ or buy a new one.
A final warning on Zagg’s Invisible Shield, if you intend to use a case which partially covers the front/back of your device i.e. Apple’s Bumper for the iPhone 4, then I’d recommend staying well clear of Zagg’s products as it will cause the protector to eventually peel up and away at the edges allow diry & grime to build up. This is the reason that both Rob & I have removed the Zagg from our front screens of our iPhone 4.
Cygnett – A company hailing from Victoria in Australia, never heard of them until I went into an Apple Premium Reseller (Stormfront – Salisbury) earlier in the month to get a screen protector for my iPad. I was ill advised by the instore staff to purchase this as I clarified that I didn’t want a protector which compromised on screen quality and wasÂ subsequentlyÂ recommended the Anti-Glare by Cygnett for my iPad … I was far from impressed as the Â£20 purchase left me a screen which was fully protected but with an extremely fuzzy screen. I checked online another Cygnett customers were complaining of the same issue.
I must stress that Cygnett do supply ‘Crystal Clear’ protectors for devices other than the iPad, however as of Jan 2011 they only supply the Anti-Glare variant for iPad’sÂ thereforeÂ purchase cautiously.
I hope you can take away some useful information from this article and that at the very least it pushes you in the right direction in finding the screen protector that not only fits your device but your own personal requirements.