I received two products from “Protect Covers” (www.protectcovers.com) to review for NotebookReview.com. I was sent, directly from the company, one keyboard cover and one screen protector. These products, sold separately, are designed to protect your laptop in harsher environments. Are these products worth your hard earned dough? Here’s a full review, starting off with the keyboard cover.
Protect Keyboard Covers “Notebook Skins” review
Protect covers touts this product as a must for those working in high traffic, office areas, where you would be worrying about your laptop. Seriously, how often do you worry about someone (or you) spilling coffee all over your laptop? No matter how solidly your laptop is built, it will not be able to remain in an operable condition when bathed in a hot liquid. More importantly, any liquid spilled will trickle through the keys of the laptop, making its way to the underground circuitry of the machine. In theory, everyone should own some sort of keyboard cover. Who doesn’t like to enjoy a nice beverage while typing away on their portable computer? You shouldn’t have to worry about spills or other accidents that can occur — nor should you take any chances by putting your expensive investment on the line. I think that the main reason why people refrain from using covers such as the one I am reviewing is because it detracts from the usability of the machine. This will be discussed later on in greater detail.
Keyboard protector in place (view larger image)
Putting on this protective sheath isn’t terribly hard, but it must be done right. All there is to do is remove the adhesive cover along the borders to reveal the surface, coated with some sort of bonding agent. I had to take it off a few times and re-apply it because it wasn’t straight. The cover is perforated with the proper keys, hence they make a cover designed to fit your laptop “like a glove”. The product is looser fitting than I would like it to be. Typing wasn’t so much of a chore as using the touchpad is. Because the cover is on the loose side, when you navigate using the touchpad, your finger drags the cover with it. It’s hard to explain, but in essence, the friction between your finger and the touchpad is increased, and thus it requires more pressure to operate. Decreasing the pressure required in the Synaptics control panel proved to be slightly helpful, but using the touchpad is still annoying. Tapping the touchpad to register a click isn’t hard, but doing a lot of scrolling — as I like to do — has certainly proven to be troublesome. This is one of the issues I have run into while using this cover that needs to be addressed by the producers. Despite this, however, if I were using an external mouse, like many workers probably do at offices, I wouldn’t have this problem.
Dell 700m With keyboard protector on
Typing is fairly easy — it’s a little harder to push down on the keys, but it would be impossible to create a skin that replicates the material of the keys on the keyboard! The skin has been molded so it contours to the keys perfectly, but I can still type more efficiently without the cover. You can definitely feel its presence on the machine while typing. Perhaps it is because I am not used to it, but I have found myself using the “backspace” key more often while writing this review because it is harder to differentiate one key from another with the skin on.
Now that I have discussed the specifics of this product while in use, I’d like to allude to some of the issues I’ve had with this product as a whole. Firstly, I have noticed that dirt has accumulated under the skin. I think most of the dirt has accumulated from taking it off and putting it back on again for a better fit. Also, the borders of the skin seem to be more adhesive than the rest of the surface. I never put the skin on my floor or anything, and I washed my hands before using it. Despite this, the borders of the skin are blackening and are beginning to be encrusted with visible dirt. I don’t fully blame this on the manufacturers, but they need to change it somehow so that it doesn’t attract as much debris and lint. Moreover, the skin wasn’t cut as precisely as I would have liked it to — next to the buttons under the touchpad, there are two small holes on my machine to accommodate the latches for the lid clasp. The skin doesn’t directly go around these small holes, it is sort of cut on an angle, leaving a small piece of the laptop exposed.
The company touts this cover as being “flexible, transparent, and durable.” I will have to agree with them for the most part, I can see through it and the product appears to be durable enough to withstand to be stretched and battered. Flexibility isn’t a problem either really — if it were any more flexible it would feel cheaper. I do wish the feel was improved though as the touchpad is harder to operate.
One last issue I have noticed is that keyboard area is much hotter than usual. I think this is because of the reduced air circulation caused by the skin. I will probably take it off later when I want to type because it is getting hot. It is not uncomfortable by any means, it’s just that you can feel the heat, and it’s kind of annoying. I do not want to pour liquid over my machine for obvious reasons (unless the company agrees to send me a new laptop if mine gets damaged in the process =D ), but when they say that it protects against liquid spills, food, and oil, I believe them. They also say it protects against pet hairs and dust, but I’d have to disagree as I have two dogs in my house, and there are a lot of pet hairs under the sheath even though I never let any of my dogs near the laptop. I can see little particles of dirt lodged under the cover. However, let’s say you were to have a whole handful of pet hair in your hand and you were to throw it onto the keyboard of a normal laptop, a lot of the hairs would get inside, but with the cover, they won’t. In that sense, I think the makers have done their job as my laptop is mostly protected from pet hairs and dust. Again, I have not tested it by pouring harmful chemicals onto it, but the brochure says it is ideal for hazardous environments. The cover can be cleaned with soap and water. I found it somewhat difficult to secure the lid into the base of the laptop because of the cover — it required an extra “push”.
The brochure says that this cover has earned the governments highest “A” grade quality rating 13 years in a row and that it has been used in the military. They are offering a 30 day money-back guarantee. The cover costs $14.95. Is it worth it? I’d say yes. Even though this product doesn’t suit me because I feel the environment I work in isn’t as high traffic as others’, I am sure a lot of people could benefit from this product. I am not 100% sure that this will protect your machine against everything you’d like it to, but if something does happen, the results will be ten million times prettier than if you didn’t have the skin on! If you’re looking for a relatively low cost, quality cover, get one of these. If you run a computer lab with a lot of laptop computers, you may want to consider one, it’ll keep the laptop clean even though there will be many, many people coming into contact with it. If you work in a lab and work with liquids a lot, you could use this to protect your laptop. A mechanic would use this to protect the keyboard from oil, which would most likely damage a bear keyboard. There are many, many uses for this, so if it suits you, go ahead and buy one. Their order/contact info is available at the end of the review.
Rating : 8/10 if you have a use for it, otherwise 7/10.
Simply put, this screen protector is excellent, in every sense of the word. PDA screen protectors are flimsy in comparison (maybe because they use touch screens, I’m not too sure), but this screen protector is solid and leaves no bubbles or residue. It is 100% clear and transparent and guards against scratches. It’s on right now and I can only tell it’s on because I see it on the bezel of the screen (It was cut slightly larger than needed to so it’s easier to remove I assume). The screen is the most important part of the laptop and it is often the part that gets damaged because it is always left exposed. Obviously, you can’t punch the screen and expect it not to shatter — this screen protector is not designed for that — but if you spill something on it or you’re using it outside and it starts to rain or something, you’ll be thankful it was on. I can also touch the screen if a piece of lint gets on it and wipe it right off without smearing the rest of the display. I also think that it doesn’t detract from the natural beauty and the glossiness of the screen. I found that the screen protector slightly reduces glare that is caused by my glossy display. The protector leaves no residue when removed.
The screen protector is hardly noticeable (view larger image)
That’s all there is to say about this screen protector- it’s easy to apply (and very forgiving if you make a mistake the first time while putting it on — it can easily be re-applied) and works great, exceeding my expectations. I don’t notice any dust that got under the protector during application. And at $14.95, it’s a pretty good deal — I think this will last me around 8-10 months before needing a replacement. I recommend this product to anyone, regardless of their working environments. I am always worrying about my screen and I shout at people when they touch it, so this should resolve that issue. My praises go to the makers of this product, it’s fantastic. Here is their contact information, where you can order both products. Shipping is also relatively fast.
Pricing and Availability