Provides: Anti-glare screen protection
Compatibility: iPad 2
Availability: Out Now
While Apple is busy designing beautiful, saturated, glossy-as-all-getout displays, there are a few but ardently vocal supporters of the superiority of a matte screen finish. Reasons for this devotion include the matte’s less-reflective surface and the truer color presentation; oddly, the richer, more saturated colors offered by a glossy screen are one of Apple’s prime reasons for going glossy. MacBook Pro users have a matte screen as a build-to-order option, but if you want an iPad without the sheen, you have to turn to an aftermarket screen protector like Crimson’s Anti-Glare film screen protector.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Lock your iPad 2 and hold it up. Chances are you can see your face reflected in it. If there is a lamp or sunlight anywhere near, that will be reflected too, and unlike your face, bright lights will continue to reflect even when the iPad’s screen is on (the backlight is strong enough to overcome weak reflections, but not intense light). This mirror-like sheen makes the iPad sexy in product marketing shots, but can be a real challenge to using the device in everyday situations when reflections from ceiling lights, windows, or other light sources can interfere with what you are viewing.
Enter Crimson’s Anti-Glare screen protector, one in a series that includes anti-reflection and anti-fingerprint protectors, as well. The protector is a thin, multi-layered composite film that incorporates a silicone adhesive layer and lightly textured upper layer designed to provide a strong-yet-removable cling while simultaneously diffusing the reflections of bright light sources on your iPad’s screen. The film is thin enough to be compatible with the Smart Cover’s magnets, and offers additional protection to your screen from the collection of dust, grime, fingerprints, or scratches.
The Fairest One of All?
Crimson’s screen protector is quite good. Unlike other films, it does not produce a noticeable rainbow or halo effect where screen pixels appear grainy, pixelated, or with auras of color around them (like sunlight hitting water mist and making a rainbow). Since the upper layer is designed to diffuse light, it does reduce the crispness of the iPad’s display, so pictures appear a bit softer and text is not quite as sharp, though everything is still perfectly viewable/readable. If razor sharpness is crucial for you, then no anti-glare screen will ever be useful; it is ironic that photographers are usually one of the more outspoken supporters of matte displays, due to their more realistic color reproduction, but they can never use an anti-glare film due to the loss of sharpness.
The real devil in the details lies in applying the Crimson protector to your iPad. Like many protective films, it is nearly impossible to get this thing on without bubbles, and the included tool is really only good for pushing the bubble off to the nearest bezel. Should you get a speck of dust under the film, all bets are off: you will have a permanent bubble.
The method of application also requires a very awkward backwards-facing process; you peel a layer off the bottom quarter of the protector, line it up on the iPad screen, then continue to peel the bottom layer away while applying the film to the iPad. This requires some pretty advanced wrist acrobatics, exacerbates the bubble issue, and has been solved by other manufacturers who add a top layer with peel-away tabs for easier positioning.
Overall, Crimson’s anti-glare screen protector is a a useable option for those who wish to reduce glare on their iPad’s screen. Similar to all anti-glare protectors, Crimson’s offering does reduce the display’s sharpness slightly, but this is not a point against the product (all anti-glare films do this). Our rating reflects the difficulty and impossibility of bubble-free application, which make this protector an average but not outstanding choice.