When it comes to modern notebooks, no single feature is more liked and simultaneously disliked than the glossy screen. When you’re in a retail store shopping for a new laptop chances are you probably think the laptops with the glossy screens look cooler and more up to date. Unfortunately, when you bring that new notebook home you quickly discover that “cool” glossy screen also makes it almost impossible to see what is on the screen under bright sunlight and causes mirror-like reflections under indoor lighting. ViewGuard comes to the rescue with its Anti-Glare Matte Screen Protector.
ViewGuard has been around for a number of years and is perhaps best known for its line of privacy filters — you know, those dark films you put over a laptop screen or desktop monitor to prevent people standing or sitting next to you from seeing what’s on your screen. The new ViewGuard Anti-Glare Matte Screen Protector is a thin layer of plastic that you place over your laptop screen to turn that new glossy screen into an old-fashioned matte display.
We decided to put the ViewGuard Anti-Glare Matte Screen Protector to the test in our lab with a popular notebook that features a glossy screen. The Alienware M11x has been a popular notebook since it was announced earlier this year, but many happy Alienware customers hate those glossy screens. Before we show you the final result, let’s take a closer look at the ViewGuard screen protector itself.
ViewGuard Anti-Glare Matte Screen Protectors are composed of multiple layers of material, each of which helps to either reduce reflected light or provide additional impact protection for your screen. The anti-scratch coating layer protects your screen from fingerprints, smudges, and scratches. This layer also helps make the ViewGuard screen protector ideal for use with touch-screen tablet PCs and Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPC). Honestly, who wants to clean fingerprints off a glossy screen all the time?
The anti-glare matte coating reduces glare caused by sunlight and fluorescent lighting. This allows you to use your computer indoors under bright office lights or outside of Starbucks with the sun shining directly on your laptop. Additionally, glare reduction can help reduce some effects of eye strain caused by spending long hours in front of a computer screen.
One of the best features of the ViewGuard Anti-Glare Matte Screen Protectors is the easy on/off application. The protector is easily attached and removed time and time again without damage to your screen. The screen protector attaches directly to the surface of your display with a silicone adhesive. Since the entire multi-layer film is less than one millimeter thick it can stay attached to your screen and still allow your laptop lid to close.
The ViewGuard Anti-Glare Matte Screen Protector (which is available for both 16:9 ratio screens and older 16:10 screens) comes in a simple black envelope that includes the screen protector, a reusable microfiber cleaning cloth, and disposable cleaning wipes. Although I appreciate the reduction in packing material, I would have liked to see a thicker envelope or a thick cardboard insert inside the envelope to provide additional support and protection for the screen protector during shipping (more on that later).
I have to praise the team at ViewGuard for their choice of disposable cleaning wipes. We’ve used a variety of these wipes in our office and some will leave streaks or residue on the screen after use. These ViewGuard wipes worked perfectly for cleaning glossy screens without leaving cleaning marks behind.
The cleaning process is extremely important since any residual dirt left on the screen will create small air pockets between the glossy screen and the matte screen protector. Once you’ve used the disposable wipes and the microfiber cloth to get your screen as clean as possible, the tricky part begins.
After you remove the screen protector from the envelope and its protective film, you can line up the screen protector for perfect placement over your laptop’s glossy screen. Unless you’re very, very lucky you will probably have to apply, remove, and apply the screen protector multiple times until the film perfectly covers the screen. You will need to apply from one side to the other and use a credit card or similar flat material to squeeze out any air bubbles as you press the screen protector onto the screen. Again, any air bubbles will look bad, so make sure you take your time and get them all out.
Once the matte screen protector is in place the results are pretty obvious. While some reflections are still visible, the surface of the screen is less disruptive while typing documents for work or playing games for fun. Although the protector doesn’t completely eliminate reflections, it does a fantastic job reducing glare from overhead lights or sunlight.
Overall, there isn’t much to complain about when it comes to the ViewGuard Anti-Glare Matte Screen Protector. Glossy screen reflections are reduced, glare from overhead light is virtually eliminated, and at a cost of less than $20 it’s probably the best $20 you’ll spend on a notebook with a glossy screen.
That said, there are two potential problems to look out for. As previously mentioned, if you don’t clean the screen before applying the screen protector or don’t squeeze out air bubbles, then you’ll end up with some annoying bubbles on your screen that get in the way for what you want to see. Additionally, the thin cardboard envelope might not adequately protect the screen protector during shipping. The screen protector we reviewed had a minor bend in one corner and that prevented the screen protector from resting flush against the screen … resulting in those annoying air bubbles we talked about.
Despite some minor frustration with air bubbles, the ViewGuard Anti-Glare Matte Screen Protector does exactly what it’s meant to do. Annoying, mirror-like reflections are reduced, glare from indoor lighting or sunlight vanishes, and you even get some added protection against scratches.
The retail price of the ViewGuard Anti-Glare Matte Screen Protector varies from around $14.00 to $20.00 depending on the size on your laptop screen, and if you hate your current glossy screen then it’s probably a small price to pay. Bottom line, short of buying a notebook with a matte screen, this is the best option for dealing with glossy screen laptops.
- Reduces reflections
- Eliminates glare
- Comes with wipes and microfiber cloth
- Getting rid of air bubbles takes forever
- Envelope packaging might not provide enough protection
- Price varies based on screen size