First Look: Incipio Anti-Glare + Privacy Screen Protectors for iPad
The good news: Incipio is first out of the gate with screen protectors tailored to the iPad's display. And given the size of the iPad's 9.7" screen, the Anti-Glare Screen Protectors ($25) aren't completely crazy in price given that there are two in the package, plus a screen cleaning cloth and applicator card. Each one can be used to take the edge off of the iPad's glossy glass face, while reducing fingerprints. But the Privacy Screen Protector ($70) -- capable of tinting the IPS display so that it's not quite as visible from off-angles on the sides -- is sold individually for a brutally high price that will likely deter all but the most security-obsessed users. After testing, it's obvious that the Anti-Glare version fits without a problem, dramatically reducing glare on the screen while adding a mild prismatic effect that modestly impacts clarity -- not enough to matter, and certainly helping more than it hurts. Proper installation of the film isn't difficult, but requires a completely clean iPad screen, proper horizontal centering, and air bubble removal. The included Incipio cleaning cloth and installation card really help. Shown on the screen: Apple's Jonathan Ive wiping off the screen of his own iPhone with a shirt. Apple obviously knows how messy its glass becomes after normal use -- why is it blocking film from being sold in its stores?
On May 13, 2010, iLounge published The Complete Guide to iPad Cases and Protection, a multi-page comparison of over 70 different iPad cases and film protectors, sorted by genre. The following details were added to this piece by that comparison article; please click on the link above for additional comparative discussion of similar protective options.
Incipio includes two sheets of film, a cloth, and an applicator for the same price as Power Support offers one piece of film. This solution was the first on the market, fit the iPad properly—though it was tailored so close to the screen’s edges that we found it a little challenging to install—and we were extremely thankful to have something protective for the iPad so early in its life. But over a week of use, we found that this film was not as optically clear as the others above, picked up fingerprints at a much higher rate, and also showed oil smudges, both of which needed to be wiped off with frequency. At half the price per sheet, you wind up with a lower quality experience, but you still get most of the protection.
As the most expensive screen protector in the group—arguably crazy expensive—Incipio’s privacy protector was at the middle of the pack in overall quality and privacy performance, though closer to NuVue than the price difference would suggest. Unlike NuVue, it has a matte finish once installed, and as it’s viewed from off angles, its dimming effect is smooth and gentle rather than off-puttingly sketch-like, fading from clear to black.
Installation wasn’t easy, but it turned out to be the least difficult in this group of challenging films. As with the other options, you need to peel off two layers of disposable plastic before installing it; the first layer, protecting its static cling rear surface, was easy to pull off—moreover, the film is cut pretty well to match the iPad’s screen size and Home button, only a hint more protective on the screen than it should be for easier installation. But peeling off its waxy second layer—the one you remove after the film’s on the iPad and the air bubbles are gone—was a challenge, initially removing one of the corners of the protector itself and forcing us to reapply that part of the film.
Like NuVue, Incipio’s film provides only two-way protection: if you’re holding the iPad vertically, it prevents people on the left and right from seeing what’s on the screen, and has no left-right impact on the iPad in horizontal orientation. In both cases, the screen can be seen on the other axis with no darkening effects. The bigger issue with Incipio’s design is that it clouds the screen with a uniform blur that makes text and images look soft rather than sharp. This is common of privacy films, and helped here by the fact that Incipio’s matte finish is smooth rather than lenticular, but the effect is noticeable—not fatal, but noticeable.