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Taking it back to the matte

Many many years ago, Apple made glorious laptops with matte screens. Sadly (for me, at least), these gave way to brighter, shinier, and much more reflective glossy displays. These same glossy screens are found on iOS devices as well, including my new iPad Air.

But on iOS devices, glossy screens are even more annoying than they are on laptops, because of fingerprints. It sometimes seems I spend almost as much time cleaning my iPad as I do using my iPad. But what if there were a product that could solve both the glossy issue and the fingerprint issue?

A friend of mine clued me in to just such a thing…the Moshi iVisor iPad screen protector. (The full line, including iVisor for iPhones, is also available via Amazon.) While I don't have two iPads for comparison sake, here's how my iPad now looks against an uncovered iPad mini:

Obviously, there's a lot less glare on the covered iPad, which I love—it's still not ideal with bright overhead lights, but it's a whole lot more usable.

But what about installation, use with the pencil, fingerprints, and the brightness of the screen under the cover?

Installation

It's been a long time since I had a screen protector on one of my iOS devices. But I still have memories of installation nightmares involving bubbles that just would not go away. The Moshi screen cover has none of those issues, primarily because it only adheres at the four sides of the screen—the center part, covering the actual display, is just "there," not stuck on in any way. As a result, installation was simple, and took only a few seconds.

I was worried that—because it wasn't adhered to the glass of the iPad—the cover might feel "loose" in use, but that's not the case at all—it feels like it's firmly attached, both when using my finger and when using the Apple pencil. From the side, you can see how tightly the cover lies on the iPad:

Because the entire cover isn't adhered to the iPad, you can actually take it off and wash it, though I haven't tried this yet.

Use with the pencil

One unexpected (to me, anyway) benefit of the cover is that it makes using the Apple pencil more enjoyable: The matte cover provides just a bit of resistance, which makes the pencil feel more like it's being used on paper rather than on a piece of glass. It even sounds like paper…

(You may have to crank the volume up a bit to hear this one.)


I had the phone very close to the iOS devices to capture the pencil's sound—it's not as loud as it may seem here, but it does sound—and feel—much more like using a pencil on paper than it does using a pencil on glass. I like it.

Fingerprints

The iVisor does a great job with fingerprints. As a quick test, I wiped down both my iPad and my iPad mini, then used both (playing the same game) for 30 seconds or so. Here's a comparison of how the two devices looked when I was done:

(And yes, that is a big ugly scratch on the mini's screen…if only it'd had a screen protector!)

Even after tons of usage, fingerprints hardly show on the iVisor—I rarely wipe my iPad down now, and it used to be a before-each-use occurrence. Even when there are fingerprints, the matte finish diffuses them, so they're not nearly as bothersome as they are on an uncovered display.

Brightness

Obviously, with a matte cover over the display, the iPad's screen won't appear as bright as it does without one. And if you're a professional photographer working on your iPad, or someone else for whom max brightness and ultimate color sharpness are important, then this is probably not the cover for you.

But for me, the brightness still seems well more than acceptable. I didn't have another Air around (and didn't want to pull and replace my cover), so here's a shot of the Air next to the iPad mini, showing the App Store:

You can see how the matte cover has muted the brightness of the iPad Air (and there's a color tone difference, but that's not the cover, that's the screen technology). Whether or not you find that muting acceptable depends on your personal preferences. For me, though, the loss of brightness is more than made up for by the reduction in glare and fingerprints.

That's a wrap cover

The Moshi iVisor matte cover is working very well on my iPad Air. I've traded a bit of brightness for much less glare, and greatly reduced fingerprintitis, and I'm very happy with the tradeoff. The pencil sounds and feels more like a real pencil, and the cover was really easy to apply.

The iPad Air cover runs about $30, so it's not inexpensive—but that's a lot less than the cost of new glass to fix a bad scratch (hello, mini). I think you can find an iVisor for pretty much every iOS device Apple's made since about the iPhone 5—I have one on order for my iPhone SE, in fact, to see how well it works on a smaller screen.

6 Comments

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  1. I also remember the difficulty of getting bubbles out from under screen covers. I'm certainly glad there's a product that eliminates the problem. I use my iPad Pro primarily for reading music. I tried one of those Boox Max III E-readers because I wanted to be able to read more easily in direct sunlight. That feature is quite robust, unfortunately, most others are not. I wish there was a tablet that provided for switching between these two types of displays. Does this shield help with viewing in sunlight?

    I have a wired USB page turner, but developed a 3D printing solution to incorporate a cheap bluetooth calculator to do the job (for what it's worth). Bluetooth page turners can be quite expensive.

    https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4129202

    1. It probably won't help much in the sun—there's no direct glare, but everything still get washed out. That's quite the solution!

      -rob.

  2. Received the iVisor for my 1st generation iPad Pro 12.9" today. It's a superb product! I've tried different sorts of iPhone and iPod screen protectors before, and this was the first time I've had flawless screen protector installation. That's even more remarkable when considering the large screen size of an iPad Pro 12.9". I should mention that the 1st generation and 2nd generation iPad Pro 12.9" use the same iVisor. I had to delve into some documentation at the site to learn that. (The iOS version of the Moshe site employed a subtractive process to eliminate choices that aren't appropriate, and when narrowing down size choices for iPad pro, only the 2nd generation appeared available.)

  3. So… I've always trusted you Rob. But this time, alas, your recommendation doesn't work for me. I got the Moshi iVisor for my phone. In no way is it anti-glare. Neither is it the least bit oleophobic. But worse, it prevents touch from working in the four corners, unless hard-pressed. In other words, it destroys touchscreen function. That's two bad strikes against it, and one TERRIBLE strike. Granted, you recommended it for iPad and maybe a bigger one works better. (As you promised, installation was simple. But I have never had an issue with bubbles under phone glass, so that was not why I bought it.)

    1. That's weird—I bought one for my iPhone SE, too, and it's working great. Definitely anti-glare, definitely oleophobic. I was going to discuss it in my upcoming iPhone SE post. But here's a photo (big, full size) of my SE with the Visor in place:

      https://robservatory.com/postimages/ipad_case/iphone_visor.jpg

      That's my iPad taking the photo, clearly blurred. And I've been using my phone all morning, no fingerprints. Also, I just tested again to be sure, but I don't have to press harder on any portion of the display.

      Does yours not look like that? If not, I'd send it back, as it sounds like you got a defective one somehow?

      -rob.

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