For the record, the guy in the photograph isn’t a member of iLounge’s staff, or anyone that we know. But the image of a guy chowing down with a MacBook on his lap is memorably funny, which is probably the reason iSkin chose to use it on its site to promote ProTouch ($25), its latest silicone rubber keyboard protector offering for MacBooks and MacBook Pros. It’s not too hard to imagine him – or, really, a lot of people – dropping some or all of the company’s listed items inside a MacBook keyboard: “food particles, dust, hairs/dandruff, sweat, ketchup (and similar liquids)” – the list goes on and doesn’t get much better from there.
At my house alone, we have two dogs and a cat. And try as we might, they do find ways to walk right next to / on top of our laptops. So it wasn’t a total surprise when a routine cleaning of my MacBook Pro’s innards revealed (and removed) some dog hair. ProTouch is designed to stop that from happening, so over the past few days, we’ve been testing versions on two different machines, one a MacBook, and one a Pro. iSkin sells blue, pink, frosted clear, white, and black versions; ours have been the white and black, with white glowing in the dark. And generally, we’ve liked them a lot.
Both versions properly fit their respective computers, and can be kept inside when the lid’s closed. They also look as conspicuous or inconspicuous as you prefer – go with clear if you want a Pro-neutral version, or a color if you want something more striking. On a silver MacBook Pro, the black ProTouch recalls the look of earlier PowerBooks, and only has one problem: all that stuff on the iSkin list above, particularly dust, looks very visible on the rubber, which thankfully can be washed off. Expect to do it often. The white version is far less problematic in that regard.
Besides their protectiveness, the silicone covers have another benefit: if you’re not a fan of the MacBook Pro’s key clicking, you’ll find that the sound is muffled almost entirely by the ProTouches, even though they do nothing to inhibit fast typing. Admittedly, I like the Pro’s clicks, so this isn’t a benefit for me, except when I’m typing next to someone who’s sleeping.
Overall, the ProTouch designs are useful and well-made, most certainly serving their intended purpose given that only a few days of hair and dust were enough to require a quick wipe-down. But are they worth $25 a piece? I’m going to have to say “no” on that one – as nice as they are, $25 is pretty steep for a sheet of rubber with printed characters, and in my view more befitting a complete MacBook care kit (with, say, one of the company’s new Microfiber LCD screen cleaners shown above, and/or a wrist area protector) than something so simple. Thankfully, places like the Think Different Store are selling it for $20, and if you shop hard, you may find it for less. My hope is that iSkin isn’t falling into the premium pricing trap that enables lower quality and lower priced competitors to eat away at the sales of better made but ultimately commodity products like this one; value packs could go a long way towards fixing this.