Have you ever tried to put in a screen protector that relies on static to cling to the screen? How many bubbles and wrinkles does it have in it? How many times did you have to start over trying to apply it, only to end up with less-than-perfect results? If you've ever found that process maddening, or just want a hassle-free screen protector for your iOS device, I found one for you: the Moshi iVisor.
While we are specifically testing the units for the iPad Air and iPad Air 2, much of what we say about these two screen protectors applies to Moshi's versions for other products, including the iPad mini, most iPhone models, and most of Samsung's Galaxy lineup and Amazon's Kindle offerings. The big thing about these screen protectors is this: they will go on perfectly. No wrinkles. No bubbles. Seriously.
The reason is because, sensibly, the iVisor in either white or black (there is a matte-style AG and a glossy XT version, as you prefer) is not a film that relies on static cling. It's a solid sheet of PET silicon with a substantive border around it, so you can actually grip the thing without leaving fingerprints on the screen area. It uses a very soft, mild adhesive in the border area to stay in place, one that does not mar your device, and makes the protector removable and re-placeable over and over (not that you'll need this, really).
Your biggest challenge is just laying it on straight, which may take a try or two, but the beauty of it is that you can pick it up again and have another go at getting it perfectly straight, and you will still not have to worry about bubbles, wrinkles or other imperfections. And if by chance you're so butterfingers that you manage to get a fingerprint or bit of schmutz on the underside of the screen protector, you can lift it up and clean it. Yes, clean it. And then put it back on.
This, compared to the less-expensive-but-also-cheaper filmy protectors you can find at dollar stores and other places of low repute, is a miracle. To be sure we believed this, we tried each of the two protectors for a few weeks to convince ourselves they wouldn't slip, fall off, get dirty on the underside, fade or wrinkle. They did not.
Do I really need a screen protector?
This is the question most people ask themselves. It's not like the Moshi (or any other screen protector) is going to save your iPad's screen should you toss it off the Empire State Building accidentally. Plus, Apple uses incredibly-tough Gorilla Glass for its iOS device screens in the first place -- though people are endlessly inventive in coming up with ways to shatter their screens nonetheless. The iVisor and its competitors add a layer of crack resistance, certainly, but that's about the limit for "protection."
What they really offer is a defense against what I often call Apple's Biggest Fib -- the claim that the iOS devices they sell have an "oliophobic" (oil-resisting) coating. While I'm not saying the company has outright lied about this, they clearly didn't test this claim against people with naturally oily (or as I prefer to call it, "eternally youthful") skin. I'm here to tell you: my fingerprints stick to the unprotected iPad screen the way the paparazzi stick to the Kardashian clan.
I try not to be bothered by this, but in fact it drives me crazy. I even tried using a stylus on the iPad to avoid touching it, but then I end up with "stylus stamps" that showed where the stylus was used. I found myself cleaning the iPad all the time, not wanting to show it to anyone until the screen was clean, and didn't look as though I'd used a stick of butter to navigate my way through some game.
Both the iVisor AG and XT are a huge improvement on this problem, being made of silicon rather than glass. You still need to wipe them occasionally, but not nearly so often, and you don't need the special cleaning solutions and microfiber cloths to carry around that you do with the unprotected iPad screen. I often go a week or more without cleaning the screen, and now cheerfully hand it to others to try out without embarrassment.
Indirect sunlight: AG on the left, XT on the right
Of the two, I preferred the AG (the matte version) of the iVisor. I write on my iPad a lot, and often in public places during the day (in fact, I'm writing this review in a restaurant). The matte version does -- very slightly -- soften the Retina screen effect of the iPad 3 or later, but it also diffuses the overhead or nearby light sources that you don't have control of outside the home, making the screen easier to see in offices, day-lit spaces, all the horrible flourescently-lit places of this world, and outdoors. It also seems the more resistant of the two to my grease-embedded fingerprints, where before the only alternative was to start wearing lab gloves whenever I used the iPad.
Indirect sunlight: AG on the left, XT on the right
The glossy XT version, however, is the most "invisible" of the two. Having previously owned a non-Retina-quality Moshi screen protector for my first iPad, and having put it later on my iPad 3, I was astonished at how different and better the new Moshi screen protectors are at preserving the true splendor of the Retina display. The XT version in particular is utterly invisible, but of course brings with that the potential for glare and shine when in use, just as the naked display does (in fact, possibly a bit more).
Dramatic difference in glare with AG (left) vs XT (right)
If you mostly use your iPad in low-lit or non-direct lighting environments like nightclubs, your man-cave, personal office or restaurants at night -- particularly if you prize the purity of an un-compromised Retina display -- you want the glossy XT version of the iVisor. Otherwise, you want the matte AG version. Or buy both, and switch between them as needed. Because you can.