Protection Racket

I have been using PDAs of various flavors since 1992, when I became the proud owner of a Psion Series 3. After several upgrades (3a, 3mx, 5mx) I said goodbye to Psion and got a Palm Tungsten T… then a T2…. then a T3, which is what I have at the moment. Also in our house we have a T5 and a TX, along with a couple of Zire 71s that are recently retired and looking for a new home.

You might say that I am something of a Palm aficionado, and you would be right.

One thing that I do know about PDAs is that you never operate one without a screen protector; those gorgeous color screens are far too easy to scratch. In the past I have used various screen protectors, the best of which I purchased from Brando in Hong Kong. Brando’s screen protectors are reputedly the best in the business, but at over $10 for what is essentially a piece of transparent plastic, it is a little on the pricey side. So, when it started to get worn, I looked for a cheaper alternative.

I found one on eBay; one outfit was offering SIX screen protectors for a mere $2.49 + $2 shipping from Germany. Shipping was extremely fast, but that’s where the good news ends. The Screen protectors were badly cut (right-angles instead of rounded corners) and were slightly too large, so they had to be trimmed to fit. Application was difficult as they were very sticky. Once applied, they were like cling film (or “Saran Wrap” if you are excessively brand-loyal). The soft plastic dragged on the stylus and made usage difficult and unpredictable. However, for the price, I cannot complain; you really do get what you pay for.

Unwilling to fork out more than $30 for protectors for all three PDAs, I cast my eye on eBay once again, and this time I discovered an outfit called ScreenPatronus. Based right here in the USA, they sold screen protectors for a plethora of different PDAs and cameras. I did a little research and found no bad reviews.

Each batch of three protectors cost $6.50 + $3.99 shipping – the shipping is a little high for what is effectively a first-class mail envelope, but the overall price is not bad. In addition, they will mix-and-match any three you want, so I ordered one each for T3, T5 and TX.

They arrived in short order, with a small cube of expanded polystyrene inexplicably inserted into the envelope. I later realized that this was so that they could use delivery confirmation, which required a minimum envelope thickness (God and the Post Office alone know why they have such a ridiculous requirement, but there you are). Inside the envelope were the three protectors, individually wrapped and marked. The protectors themselves were mounted on a backing which was slightly bigger than the protector; this had the effect of making the removal of the protector from the backing much easier than most (including the aforementioned Brando) The included instructions were written in clear, concise English – this in itself is a rarity.

So, off to the bathroom I go. No, I’m not taking a dump; to apply the protectors you need lots of light and as dust-free an environment as you can get – running the hot tap for a while generates steam which drops the dust neatly out of the air.

The T5 and TX were a perfect fit and application was as trouble-free as one could wish, as long as you take the usual precautions against dust. The T3 was not as good a fit; the protector was about 3mm smaller than the screen, which made centering it a pain; and when I removed it to re-center, some dust got underneath, which led me a merry chase until I could remove it, and I ended up leaving some undesirable but barely-discernable marks on the underside.

Some screen protectors have a slightly opaque, matte finish, to minimize reflective glare and provide a little friction for a “pen-on-paper” stylus experience, while others are glossy and transparent. These ones fell into the latter category and felt like a glass screen. The screen was also noticeably brighter then before. After using a “soft” screen protector for two months my T3 now feels like a new PDA.

Final verdict: Just as good as the Brandos, less expensive, and made in the USA. They will mix-and-match, which is wonderful if you have more than one PDA. Delightful people to purchase from. T3 fit could be better. Bottom Line: Highly Recommended.

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