Review: Spigen SGP Steinheil Ultra Optics Screen Protector for iPad (3rd-Gen)
Spigen SGP continues its leading position in screen films with the newest version of its Steinheil Ultra Optics Screen Protector ($29), this time for the third-generation iPad -- with support for the iPad 2 as well. Like previous versions, the sheet of film comes packed with a cleaning cloth and solution, dust removing tape, and a squeegee -- everything you need to get your screen as clean as possible for the installation. It's one of the best films we've seen for the new iPad so far.
The installation process is the same as that of any other hard, dry-adhesive film: once the screen has been cleaned to perfection—a sometimes difficult task, depending on your environment—you peel the protector away from its backing, line it up, and let it adhere to the screen. We got very few bubbles in our installation, and were easily able to push out the ones that were there with the squeegee.
Although we’ve preferred and recommended anti-glare films in the past, the Retina Display in the new iPad has recently compelled us to use fully transparent films, at least until better anti-glare options exist. Every matte film we’ve tried has suffered from a distracting prismatic effect, turning the new iPad’s screen into an array of tiny, glittering rainbow dots. Ultra Optics uses a “microlens” setup that combines the qualities of the two film styles. It’s completely transparent and doesn’t blur pixels, yet does a good job of hiding fingerprints and reducing some of the reflection. Under normal lighting conditions, there’s no prismatic effect, although at the right angle in direct sunlight, there’s quite a bit of rainbow glare. The one thing that users may find problematic is the high-pitched vinyl sound when you move your finger across the screen. Here, it’s not quite as loud as the last version, but some users will find the “zip zip” sound of their gestures to be annoying.
We’re happy to see that Spigen SGP got this one right—at least, as right as the microlenses allow film to be. Many users find screen film to be an important part of the iPad protection solution, but it shouldn’t come at the cost of enjoying the latest model’s high resolution display. Ultra Optics thankfully protects the screen without obscuring it, and fits quite well. We’d like the company to further reduce the sound, which would improve on an otherwise very good solution. The price still strikes us as a bit high for what appears to be a simple piece of plastic, but there’s a lot happening with this film on a microscopic level, and the result is worthy of a strong general recommendation.