PadGadget Hands-On Review of 3M’s Natural View Anti-Glare Screen Protector

No, you don’t need a screen protector. The iPad’s sleek glass screen isn’t exactly scratchproof, but it is not easy to scuff. I have a friend who rubs his keys across his iPad whenever he sees people with a screen protector as a reminder to them that it is not necessary. That being said, some people just want to keep their gadgets in pristine condition. It makes it worth more in resale value. There is nothing wrong with a little added protection for your iPad’s screen. Today, we’ve got a hands-on review of one of 3M’s line of screen protectors for our readers.

The 3M Natural View Screen Protector for iPad 2/iPad (3rd gen.) promises to reduce glare and claims to have superb durability and image clarity.  It is designed to improve readability in ambient lighting. The protector is supposed to be fingerprint resistant, compatible with high-resolution displays, and have “stay-clean” edges.

The application of the screen protector is surprisingly easy. However, you definitely need to read the instructions first. It is very important to clean your iPad of any dust particles or fingerprints using the included microfiber cloth. If even the tiniest of particles is left behind, it will create a bubble on the screen that won’t go away.

The screen protector has a clear backing so that you can line it up with your iPad’s screen without visual impediment. There is a tab on the backing that reads, “This Side Up” so that users can tell which side is the front and which is the back.

To apply the protector, first lay it on the iPad with the backing still on. Then, take the included alignment strip, remove the backing, and adhere it to both the screen protector and the iPad.

  

The alignment strip was difficult to work with. I had a very hard time getting the backing off. There was no tab or easy way to separate the two sides. After a lot of manipulation and patience, I was finally able to remove the backing and attach it to the screen protector. This alignment strip is very useful. The screen protector tends to move around on the iPad due to static electricity and lack of friction. Without the alignment strip, I would not have been able to successfully apply the protector correctly.

The screen protector has a slightly sticky adhesive to help keep it on the device. Unlike some protectors that use so much adhesive that you worry it will never come off, 3M’s protector is easily removable and leaves no residue behind.

To apply the protector to the screen, lift the backing at the bottom edge that is closest to the alignment strip. Roll the backing out from under the protector in small increments. This allows for more control over its application, which results in less bubbling. To remove large bubbles, use the included cardboard applicator (which incidentally is also part of the packaging) to smooth out the protector as you peel away the backing.

  

Once the protector is on the screen, there will be a few bubbles that can be “scraped” out with the applicator. Don’t worry about it too much though. The bubbles will settle out on their own after a few hours. Once the initial bubbles settled, I never saw any again, not even along the edges.

The protector actually doesn’t cover the entire screen. About an eighth of an inch along all of the edges is still exposed. I think this is why it is described as having “Stay clean” edges. They don’t touch the bezel, so there is less chance of lint and dust being picked up.

Everything about the screen protector is A+ so far. However, 3M’s Natural View Anti-Glare has a matte finish, essentially ruining the crispness of the Retina display. Everything on my screen now looks slightly hazy. In order to reduce the glare, the protector has to be matte and the anti-glare works fantastic. Ambient light is diffused, making it much easier to see the screen when there is a lamp shining overhead. Unfortunately, it really diminishes the device’s visual graphics.

Overall, 3M’s screen protector is remarkably easy to apply if you read the directions first and the anti-glare really works. However, the diminished clarity of the Retina graphics is hard to forgive.

3M’s entire line of screen protectors, including the Natural View Anti-Glare for iPad 2/iPad (3rd gen.), which retails for $29.95 for two films, can be purchased from Amazon. To find a retailer in your area, visit the company’s website.

What I Liked: I loved how easy it was to apply to the iPad. I had almost no bubbles left on the screen once it was on. The few that remained were easily smoothed out with the applicator. I also liked that the edges never bubbled.

What I Didn’t Like: The matte finish basically turned my Retina display screen into a first-generation quality model. This was very disappointing.

To Buy or Not to Buy: If anti-glare is more important to you then crisp graphics, then you won’t have a problem. It is easy to apply and doesn’t leave behind bubbles. If you don’t have a reason to worry about ambient glare, it might be a better idea to look for 3M’s non-antiglare screen protectors.

  • Product Name: Natural View Anti-Glare Screen Protector
  • Vendor: 3M
  • Price: $29.95
  • Score:

 

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About Lory: Writer of all things app related, traveler of the space-time continuum, baker of really great cookies. Follow me @appaholik