If you’ve read my Elago S4 Breathe iPhone 4 case review and my more recent Cool Bananas SmartShell iPad 2 Case Review you should now be getting a feel for the fact that I hate dressing up my Apple devices in anything big and bulky unless absolutely necessary. The same applies when it comes to covering any Apple device screens in a “film” to protect it. Since the very first generation iPhone I’ve been plagued with tiny scratches on the glass, I used to curse every time I saw one, now I just take it in my stride and accept scratches will appear unless I wrap my iPhone and iPad in cotton wool.
I’ve tried all sorts of screen protection for the iPhone in the past and hated the way they all make the screen feel under the finger, Apple spent a long time developing the feel and smoothness of their glass touch-screens and it’s sacriligious to cover them up with a cheap and tacky film. I also used to hate the micro-bubbles that appeared under the films that, no matter how carefully you clean and apply the film, there’s always a few you can’t eliminate. I also found that the films would mark much more easily that the bare/naked glass with a fingernail or similar. Granted the mark is on the now removable film but what’s the point in a film to protect the screen from sightly marks if that film itself marks more easily?
So when I got my original iPad a few years ago I didn’t even entertain the idea of putting an iPad 2 screen protector on the beauty and even after a year’s daily usage the screen remained fairly free from scratches. The same could not, however, be said for greasy finger prints and smudges on the highly reflective iPad screen. I’d go so far as to say the iPad made my OCD demons mad on a daily basis. I bought a special screen cleaning spray (which is very good by the way) and used it regularly to clean my iPad screen.
All was well, I loved my iPad and eagerly awaited the iPad 2, which I upgraded to on launch day. The screen on the iPad 2 was no different to the original although I did find my fancy new smart cover had a tendency to leave 3 vertical lines in the screen smudges so the good old cleaning spray was out in force even more often.
Then came a nice sunny Summer (unusual here in the UK) and I found the iPad’s achilles heel, reflections!! Using the iPad was near impossible outdoors on a bright sunny day, even with the brigtness turned up to the max and the screen free from any greasy finger marks, viewing the iPad 2 outside was not comfortable.
Since I live in the UK and sunny days can be few and far between I dealt with it as best I could, moving into the shade wherever possible to read anything on the iPad. It wasn’t until I booked a long holiday to Florida that I realised I had to find a solution. I subscribe to many digital magazines via Zinio and have several eBooks that I wanted to read whilst sunbathing in Florida. None of this was going to be feasible on the stock iPad screen so I started investigating iPad 2 screen protectors but more specifically, anti-glare screen protectors.
I thought I’d do some thorough research into the best ones around and buy one to try for the holiday and remove it upon returning to the UK. After hours reading on-line reviews and user ratings I decided the best one was probably going to be the Power Support Anti-Glare iPad 2 Screen Protector and sod’s law it had to be one of the most expensive too at £29.95! Wow that’s around the same price as Apple’s Smart Covers for what was essentially going to be a disposable screen anti-glare film for my holiday.
After ordering the £30 film it arrived in the post and when I opened it to have a look I immediately started to get buyer’s remorse. Had I been ripped off? £30 for a thin piece of film? I don’t quite know what I was expecting, maybe I was hoping there would be more than one in the pack in case I messed up the installation first time around. But no, just one single sheet in the big cardboard packet. GULP!
I didn’t rush into fitting the film. I read all the instructions and the extremely helpful fitting video on YouTube
Then I took the plunge, moved into a dust free environment (i.e. my bathroom with the extraction fan on), cleaned the screen, cleaned the screen again, used a can of compressed air to blow the screen and then peeled back the first film and applied the top edge of the screen protector. Slowly applying the rest of the film as per the video above and finally breathed a sigh of relief when the last edge was down. There were one or two large bubbles which pressed out to the side with ease, it’s strange, the film isn’t like the iPhone films I’ve used before, this film is quite thick and you don’t get small round bubbles, rather large bubble patches that press out easily.
After patting myself on the back for the flawless application of the film I placed my iPad 2 back in the Cool Banana case and immediately noticed a problem. The film is such a snug fit and goes right up to the edge of the glass, the Cool Banana case is also a snug fit on the front and the lip on each corned sligtly covers the edge of the glass, hence touches the anti-glare film. It’s not too big an issue, but it did cause the corners of the film to lift up a little and since I thought this could let dust and other bits of gunk under the film I decided for the purpose of my holiday I’d rather have the anti-glare film and sacrifice the rear protection of the Cool Banana case for now.
My first surprise was how clear the screen still was with a film on it. My second and biggest surprise was how the film felt under the finger. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say it feels better than Apple’s bare glass. On the bare glass I found that my finger encountered differering levels of resistance when I swiped over a particularly greasy area of the screen. Not apple’s fault, my fault for having greasy fingers I suppose but with the anti-glare film there was no greasy residue just a smooth dry surface for my finger to swipe across.
Now onto the main reason for fitting the film on the iPad 2, the anti-glare properties. Wow! Seriously, wow! This film is amazing, you can honestly sit in full Florida lunch time sun, on a beach and read everything on the iPad screen without straining your eyes, moving into shade or trying to tilt your iPad to an un-natural position to reduce glare.
Two of the guys on holiday also had tablets, one had an iPad 2 and the other a Motorola Xoom and they were impressed with the film too. The Xoom owner is your typical “anti-everything-Apple” geek but even he had to admit the iPad 2 with anti glare film was the only device that could be used out in direct Florida sunshine. He even used it over his Xoom to check some work emails and football scores because it meant he could stay around the pool rather than go inside and use his Xoom.
I completely forgot to take photos of the iPad 2, Xoom and iPad 2 with anti-glare film side by side in the sunshine whilst in Florida but I did remember when I got to the airport which had some pretty large and harsh fluorescent lights overhead. I loaded the same BBC news article on both iPad 2’s and tried taking some crude side-by-side comparison photos. They’ve not come out as well as expected but you can clearly see a big reduction in reflection of the ceiling lights. Once an iPad enabled friend comes over I’ll do some much better comparison shots with fixed lights, tripods, etc and also a video to help demonstrate just how good the Power Support Anti-Glare iPad 2 Screen Protector really is.
As a testament to how good the film really is, I’ve been back from Florida for 2 months now and the film is still on my iPad 2 for several reasons:
- The reflection reduction is so good.
- The lack of greasy fingerprint and smudge marks
- I prefer the feel of the film to the original glass
- It’s protecting my glass from any scratches.
- …it’s expensive and I don’t want to waste it when it’s this good.