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A BIG THANKS to Sheryle Taylor of 3M USA for providing the product for this review.
Although this isn’t seemingly related to a Palm device, I may, from time to time, and if provided the opportunity to review other non-Palm related devices and accessories and products, I will be doing so. I hope that by expanding the variety of products that I review that I can also expand the site to include things that gadget lovers (like me) can help bridge the gap between a Palm or PDA device with other things that are still somewhat related. If you consider that some of us do prefer to use a mirroring type application for the Palm that displays the Palm screen on your computer, like Tapsmart Keylink, you can also somewhat “tie” this to a Palm device. Okay, I’m stretching things justa bit, but at least I try.
Anyway, today’s review will be on the innovative 3M Privacy Computer Screen Filter. We all are aware of the innovative products that 3M offers, but I think this is one of those that I think is really cool and a lot of us can use and find a use for, especially those of us in corporate environments where privacy is very important.
What is a Privacy Filter?
Imagine you are a corporate executive on a flight to a conference or business trip and you need to work on your computer, or make last minute editions or changes to your company’s presentation. Since the material is quite private and sensitive and you aren’t going to be disclosing it until at the conference, it makes perfect sense to be able to find a way to prevent the person sitting next to you on the plane from reading and seeing what you’re doing. After all, you have no idea who is sitting next to you. He could be working for the competition, or even someone off the street, but you can’t risk having him read and see what you’re doing and then talk about it to his friend or just anyone once he leaves the plane because it could be broadcast news if it fell into the wrong hands.
Or, how about this? You are a student working on your report or or thesis and at a public place, like a library or coffee shop. You can’t risk having someone get a small glance at what you’re writing and possibly steal your idea, or even risk allow him to plagarize your report as his and be possibly penalized for plagarism.
In both cases, we can see that there is a desperate need to be able to protect your valuable data and work that shows up on your computer screen that you don’t wish anyone to be able to see and read. This is a big security breach that can easily happen to anyone and can also be readily accessible by anyone. Think of the value of the data that you are exposing to the rest of the world. Well, fret not, there is a solution.
This is where 3M’s innovative Privacy Computer Filters come in. This is a special rigid, plastic sheet that you place and cover over the viewable area of your screen and allows only you to be able to clearly see and read what you’re doing. Once you place this special filter over the screen, whether it be a laptop, LCD or even a CRT monitor screen, you can instantly notice that if you move slightly off to the left or right that the screen will be hard to read and view. This is the beauty of this patented technology. It allows you, the person who is sitting and facing the screen directly to be able to view the screen, yet block those who are sitting right next to you from properly seeing what you’re typing.
Even if your eyes are lined up with the edge of the screen, it seems difficult to view the actual words as they start getting dark and somewhat obscured by the filter. That’s exactly what it’s designed for, allowing only you, who is sitting directly in front of the screen, to view it and blocking others sitting even those sitting next to you from reading and viewing the screen.
The package I received contains one Privacy Computer Filter for a 15″ laptop screen with a set of 6 transparent laptop screen edge tabs (to hold the filter in place) plus a set of 8 double-sided transparent adhesives to stick to the filter and to the screen comfortably. As well, the package includes an easy to understand illustrated instruction sheet that shows the two main ways you can apply the filter to the laptop screen plus an informational sheet on the variety of sheets available and the size of screen supported.
Pics of the 3M Privacy Filter
Video of 3M Privacy Filter
To install the Privacy Filter, simply decide which way you wish to install it on the screen. There are two main ways.
The first way is to apply the doublesided transparent adhesive strips at the four edges of the shiny side of the Privacy filter and then stick it on the screen.
The second way is to apply the transparent screen edge tab at the edges of the frame of the screen, so that part of the half circle tab will stick out to keep the filter in place and prevent it from slipping or falling out. You apply two tabs on the left and right side frames as well as at the bottom of the frame. This allows you to easily slip in the Privacy Filter so that it covers the screen and yet allows you to easily remove it if you don’t need it. Of course, you are still left with the transparent tabs on the frame when you are not using it but I didn’t feel that they were distracting as they are transparent.
You will notice immediately when placing the Privacy Filter on the screen that the screen will darken a bit. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do. Keep in mind that any kind of filtering product will do that, thus the word, “filter” is in it. This is really very much a polarizing filter, and much like other polarized filters, like those found in sunglasses, they work very similar, allowing light to shine through for specific angles or conditions and blocking some out. To circumvent this, you may need to “brighten up” your screen or increase or adjust the brightness and or contrast to a level that may enhance the viewing of the screen.
Here are some details and information on the 3M Privacy Filter (obtained from 3M’s websites)
3M Privacy Computer Filters
Patented 3M microlouver technology makes on-screen data visible only to persons directly in fron of the monitor. No blurring or image distortion. Available in flat or contour frame design
Provides dual-sided anti-reflective coating to help monitors perform better.
- up to 95% screen glare reduction to prevent eyestrain and help prevent eyestrain and headaches related to computer monitor use
- Blocks up to 99.9% reduction of ELF/VLF E-field radiation and eliminates static charge and dust build up when properly grounded
- Enhanced contrast and more accurate color representation
- Available in assembly-free flat for both CRT monitors and LCD monitors (Black or Beige)
- Available in countour frames for CRT monitors (Beige)
- Available for notebook computers
- VDT glare reduction
- Lifetime Warranty against manufacturer defects for original purchaser – your assurance of quality
- Featuring Vikuiti display enhancement
- Darkens side views, leaving front view clear
- Slim, rigid-yet-flexible polymer
- Easy to attach and remove
- Protects screen from scratches and marks
- Available for laptops in many sizes
- 3M Privacy Filters offer a lifetime* warranty against manufacturing defects for original purchaser.
(*excludes BF Standard line which offers a one-year warranty.)
Americans can check out this link for Where to Buy 3M Privacy Filter in the USA while Canadians can check out this link for Vendors that carry 3M Privacy Filters in Canada. You will need to check out your own local country or area’s 3M website for more specific information on the 3M Privacy Filter available in your area.
Here are my observations with the 3M Privacy Filter.
First of all, expect that the filter will “filter” out a certain amount of light off the screen. So, expect to adjust your brightness and contrast levels to compensate for a somewhat darker screen once applied.
Second, for specific backgrounds and images and whatever you are viewing on the screen, you may find that you can “visibly” see lines across your screen. Although to me, they aren’t very noticeable, I’m sure that some people will find it very distracting. You may find that adjusting the brightness level may help in making it less noticeable. For me, for some web pages or documents, I will notice them but it’s not enough to distract me or cause discomfort in viewing the screen.
Third, depending on your method of installing the filter, you may find that the adhesive tabs may also get in the way. By that, I mean that if you use the transparent laptop frame edge tabs, you may find that they may get in the way when you’re not using the privacy filter, since they are “stuck” to your laptop screen’s frame. I guess, you could always opt to use regular scotch tape or other tape to do the same thing, but of course, that means you’ll need to bring along the tape with you and it may not “look” as nice. But, then, you won’t have the tabs always “stuck” to your laptop screen’s frame which you may find annoying and distracting. It depends on you. But if you use the transparent adhesive that you stick directly onto the screen, you may find that it may not last very long if you have a tendency to put it on and remove it. So, there are pros and cons with using either method.
Fourth, with the privacy filter installed, as I’ve mentioned already, will darken your screen by a certain amount so you will need to brighten up the screen by a bit to compensate. That saying, you will obviously use more battery and power to do so. If you are traveling and require to use the filter while on a plane, for instance, keep in mind that you should have the battery fully charged before using it on the plane as you may notice that you won’t get as much done due to lack of battery power. If you can use external power or have an extra set of battery, that’s great, but you should keep that in mind as well.
Fifth, I find that my own Dell Insprion 8100 laptop’s screen is already quite good at preventing glare and the 3M Privacy, although it does do a good job of preventing glare, seems to give out a bit of glare when compared to just my bare screen. But, not everyone has the same screen that I have so you may find that the 3M filter screen does help cut down glare for you. I find that Compaq laptops seems to have horrible screens that give out a lot of glare so the 3M Privacy filter may lessen it for those screens.
Especially nowadays with most laptop screens having the “vibrant” or shiny and glossy screens, having such a filter can be well worth it as it can definitely help cut down the amount of glare that bounces off the screen to your eyes.
Overall, I am impressed with the 3M Privacy Filter because it does do what it claims to do. It is able to block out my husband from reading what’s on the screen (he was complaining about that ) even when he’s sitting next to me yet allows me to be able to view and continue working without worrying about people reading and copying my stuff. Although the price may seem expensive to many people, if you consider the cost of losing valuable information like corporate secrets that should have been kept private or losing that valuable grade for your report because someone else stole your idea and presented a similar report, the cost of this may prove to be well worth it. And unlike many other very “obvious” methods where you install a physical shield on the side of the screen which may look a bit over the top or downright silly, this filter does the job very well, and distreetly, until the person next to you figures out that you have a Privacy filter installed.
The filter can easily be washed and cleaned. Simply wash it with soap and run under the tap water. Allow it to dry completely and then re-apply it back on your computer screen.
Don’t forget that these filters are not simply limited to laptops and notebooks but also desktops as well. Although it makes a lot of sense to get them for laptops and notebooks, especially for executives and others who need to work at public areas, it may also make sense to get them for desktops, especially when at the office. Just because you’re working at the office doesn’t mean that others in your workplace won’t steal or “borrow” your work or material. It never hurts to be careful, even at the office.
Again, I have to remind you that you may find that the fine lines of the filter may be noticeable enough for you that may be distracting and cause discomfort for your eyes. As well, the filter will darken your screen by a certain level, thus requiring you to brighten up the screen, which may also decrease the amount of time you can use your laptop due to an increase in power usage. So, evaluate your needs and your laptop screen and determine if you really need such a filter as it can be expensive for those that may not necessarily need to use it but if you do a lot of travelling and dealing with a lot of important information, this filter will pay itself easily.
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