Today’s portable devices are as nice to look at as they are to
use. But how do you protect them from the nicks and scratches that
are inevitable in everyday use? One possibility is the Invisible
Shield, from ShieldZone
Corporation. The Invisible Shield is an adhesive-backed
protector made of an extremely durable transparent material,
custom-fitted to a particular device. While most of the Invisible
Shield protectors are for small devices (iPods, PDAs, phones, and
the like) there are also laptop-sized ones for the Apple PowerBook,
MacBook, and MacBook Pro.
I tested the Invisible Shield for the 13″ MacBook, not only to
prevent my new toy from scratches and dings but also to try to
avoid the discoloration other owners of white MacBooks have been
The full body Invisible Shield package includes a total of eight
protective sheets: a large one for the case top, three for the case
bottom and battery, and four for the wrist rests, trackpad, and
trackpad button. In addition to the protectors themselves you also
get a small bottle of “application solution” (filtered water, I
think) and a flat plastic blade for smoothing out bubbles.
The Invisible Shield is made of a strong, stretchy clear plastic
with a mild adhesive on one side. Putting it on is easy, provided
you spray it until it is dripping wet on both sides before sticking
it down. The layer of water underneath prevents it from fully
adhering until you have a chance to move it around a little, and
the wetness on top makes it easier to smooth out ripples and
bubbles. At first there will still be some visible imperfections
from liquid under the protector, but they vanish as it dries.
I found applying the smaller pieces – wrist rests, trackpad
button, and bottom panels – to be quite easy. The top sheet,
because of its size, was more tricky. It is big enough to require
two hands, and it wraps around the curved edges of the case. It
took me several tries to get it aligned so that there was no
overhang, and I spent about twenty minutes peeling up the edges and
smoothing them back down. (The material is durable enough to take
quite a bit of stretching and rubbing, and you can re-stick the
adhesive a few times while it is still wet.) I gave up before
getting rid of all of the smaller bubbles, though.
The Invisible Shield isn’t completely invisible, of
course; the wrist rest protectors in particular are easy to see if
the light hits them right, since they are shinier than the matte
finish of the keyboard area. (Note that the touchpad itself is
uncovered in these pictures; the kit included a sheet to protect
it, but I didn’t put it on as I didn’t want to change its
Here is a close-up of the wrist rest, without flash and
deliberately positioned so there is a reflection.
And the bottom, again without flash. There are actually three
separate pieces here: one on the battery, one on the area next to
the battery, and one covering the rest of the case bottom. There
are accurately-positioned cutouts for the screws, rubber feet, and
battery release so that it should not be necessary to remove the
protectors to service the MacBook. It’s hard for me to tell the
protectors are there at all, unless I’m looking closely.
And finally, the top. The bubbles visible in this picture are
hard to see in normal lighting. Although I wish I had done a better
job applying the top protector, I’d rather have a case that looks
like this than one full of scratches (like my old iBook).
The only problem I had with the Invisible Shield was the
difficulty of applying the top sheet perfectly. This isn’t the
fault of the product; it’s just a bit tricky to put on such a large
“sticker” without some imperfections, especially if you’ve never
done it before. The smaller sheets, on the other hand, were easy to
put on without bubbles or wrinkles. The material seems to be
extremely resilient; I didn’t deliberately try to scratch or cut
it, but while putting on the top sheet I did stretch and scrape it
quite a bit and it remained undamaged.
The “standard” Invisible Shield kit for Apple laptops can be
ordered from ShieldZone for
$39.95 and has protective sheets for the case top, wrist rests, and
trackpad area. The full-body package is $54.95 and also includes
the protectors for the bottom of the case. Custom-fitted versions
are available for the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and PowerBook (12″,
15″, and 17″ models).