* Prices may differ from that shown
~Secret Squirrel Stuff~
Our department secretary is a paranoid soul. She used to be the big boss's secretary and was often dealing with top secret stuff that lesser mortals weren't allowed to know about. When the boss got the heave-ho she found herself out of her nice little office and out in the open-plan world with the rest of us. As I tend to stare into the middle distance when I'm thinking hard about things, she would often be convinced that I was trying to spy on her screen. Truth is, without my glasses on, she could have been looking at porn and I wouldn't have been any the wiser. Still she got herself a privacy screen and I was relieved to be able to continue staring into space without being accused of espionage. Being considerably less paranoid than her, I wasn't in a hurry to get myself a privacy filter until very recently.
~Come Fly with Me~
I spend a lot of time on planes and I've been making excuses to not work on them pretty much since I got my first work laptop. At first it was easy. The batteries were so poor that by the time you'd fired the laptop up, it was practically time for the warning light to come on to tell you that you'd better find a power source. But batteries got better and that excuse stopped working. So then I tried the 'not enough space' to open it gambit, which worked really well because I'd been allocated a monster sized laptop that could barely be opened on most European airlines, doubly so if the person in front decided to recline. My excuses got stale when I finally - after 3 years of bitching to the IT department - got allocated a so-called 'travel laptop'. With a 12 inch HP Elitebook I now had something so small that I couldn't argue there was no space. With an 8 hour battery life, I couldn't try the 'no power' excuse any more. I was left with the trump card of 'Privacy'. Clearly it would be inappropriate to work on all my secret squirrel confidential projects in a public space. I was advised to get a privacy filter.
~I took some convincing~
I wasn't keen at first. Then I sat next to the big boss in a meeting and realised that I really hadn't any idea whether he was taking notes or doing his on-line shopping because I couldn't see a thing on his screen. Since I work in an open plan office, I realised that there could be some big advantages in getting a privacy filter so I bit the bullet and ordered one from the stationery catalogue.
The prices in these catalogues are always massively inflated which I assume is to discourage us from going crazy and buying too much stuff. It was listed at around £55 which is a really silly price but you can get them online for around £35 which is still a lot of money for a little bit of plastic. I had a choice of 3M or nothing since that was the only brand that offered the 12.1 inch widescreen format so given a choice of 'take it or leave it' I took it. The order was placed and within a few days a parcel arrived on my desk.
~Up market sticky tape~
I hate packaging overkill and this was exactly what I got. A cardboard box, filled with foam lumps and then a double cardboard folder containing the filter. I opened the folder, slid out the filter and then thought "OK, so what happens now?" I have seen many of these filters which seem to just clip into place but there was nothing to clip it into. I poked, I prodded, I got my colleague Rob to look at it (he has one on his laptop) and we concluded that the only way it would stay in place would be with a bit of sticky tape on the corners. Rob found a strip of transparent sticky 'things' in the folder and said that clearly 3M had come to the same conclusion and given me something that was just a tiny step up from sticky tape.
It pained me to stick these ugly transparent tabs onto my lovely new laptop but clearly there was no alternative. I stuck the two long tabs on the sides and three of the short tabs along the bottom of the screen. I hate them - especially the one down the left side of the screen which really seems to interfere with my vision of the screen. I moved it back as far as I could without the filter falling out, but it still annoys me.
With the filter slotted into place the brightness of my screen is much reduced. It's OK under normal lighting at home but in the office the screen has been giving me low-grade headaches and makes my eyes go slightly squiffy. I have a really big monitor that I can also use but I can't help thinking that I ought to be able to use the laptop screen without discomfort under fluorescent lighting. 3M claim that it reduces glare and prevents headaches but it doesn't work for me.
The important question of course is whether it does what it's supposed to and the simple answer is yes. Unless you are sitting directly in front of the screen you really won't see much at all. If you were sitting next to me you won't see anything at all - which means I can sit on a plane and write reviews whilst people assume I am being a good girl and doing lots of work. Result! What they don't mention is that every finger mark and cat hair will stick to it like glue but after a while you'll probably stop noticing or caring.
It's ugly, it feels primitive but at the end of the day it does exactly what it's supposed to. I guess we shouldn't really ask for more than that. My husband (who works in a prison) has decided after seeing my screen to campaign for all the prison computers to have these on health and safety grounds. He has seen too many prisoners beaten up or bullied after other prisoners found out confidential things about them by peeking at the screens when talking to prison staff. It's nice to think that I've inspired him to protect a few bad guys from getting a good kicking - such is the positive power of review writing.......maybe.