Review: iSkin ProTouch and ProTouch FX Keyboard Skins

Protect your keyboard from debris in style. (October 17th, 2008)

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Product Manufacturer: iSkin Inc.

Price: $29.99 and $34.99 US

The Good

  • Thick, protective cover. Easily installed. Washable. Softens key press sounds. Prevents some accidental input. Fits wired keyboard well.

The Bad

  • Takes a couple days to get used to different feel of keys. May not settle on keyboard immediately.

Keyboards, among the most abused computer peripherals, take the brunt of our frustrations when we lose data and share our spilled drinks. As such, keyboards typically have a higher failure rate than other peripherals. While the iSkin keyboard covers do not protect your keyboard from an abusive tirade, the ProTouch and ProTouch FX do keep debris from sneaking into spaces between keys and keep the keyboard clean. iSkin also uses Microban in their skins, which "inhibit the growth of odor and stain causing bacteria" and possibly helps control the spread of germs.

The ProTouch keyboard cover for the Apple Aluminum Wired Keyboard is a form-fitted skin, available in three translucent colors: Arctic (clear), Sonic (light blue), and Blush (pink). iSkin also offers a plain black model, with a white key overlay stenciled on each key. Similar to the black ProTouch, the ProTouch FX covers include the above three colors, but with the same black key and white stencil design. I tested a blue version of both models and Ilene Hoffman tested the Sonic ProTouch FX. Our experiences are similar, except Ilene dislikes the black key color and prefers keys the same color as the skin, available in the ProTouch model.

Dressing Your Keyboard

You apply the skin to the keyboard by stretching the skin so that it cleaves around the sides, using a molded lip. Once applied, I patted it into place so that each of the keys tucked neatly into their respective sleeve. I find these skins cling to the Aluminum Wired Keyboard better than their older models for the white and clear Apple keyboards. The former versions merely sat on top of the keys, and did not cling as well.

At first, the ProTouch may pull away from the keys or have odd buckles along the edge, but the iSkin ships wrapped around a felt card, which may account for this initial problem. After a day or two of moderate use, it settles nicely.

Pro FX Keyboard cover

Sonic ProTouch FX for Aluminum Wired Keyboard

It took me some time to get used to the different feel of the ProTouch. I like that the Aluminum Wired Keyboard feels light and airy when I type. Since I type all day, it took a few days for me to adjust to how firm the skin made the keys feel. The ProTouch FX, due to its thicker silicone, is a little more rigid, but as I type this sentence, I can assure you the skin now feels natural. The keys are not as easily pressed as without the skin, but I have noticed that I make fewer errors, since accidentally brushing fingers across the keys is no longer sufficient pressure to produce a character on screen. I appreciate the tactile difference of the skin. The silicone prevents your fingers from slipping off a key, when hastily pressed off center.

Easily Read Key Caps

The printed keys on the ProTouch FX are a joy for the eye, especially for those of us that wear glasses. Whereas normally I can't read past a few inches away without glasses, the easily visible white-on-black characters show even when working at night with only the light of my monitor. The one drawback is that the painted letters will wear away as time goes on, leaving non-touch typists to wonder what key they are pressing. The wear isn't fast, however, since after several weeks of use, the more commonly pressed keys are only slightly faded. One thing to keep in mind I use my keyboard for 80 hours a week. Ilene has used her ProTouch for months with no signs of the letters wearing away; she must have a lighter touch.

The Soup Test

In order to test its resiliency, I bent a few of my personal computing rules. I placed soup between the keyboard and the monitor, dripping it all over the keyboard as I ate. As I expected, the ProTouch prevented any moisture from getting at the keys. You can easily wash it with dish soap and water and it dries in a matter of minutes. There isn't a single stain or perforation on the skin from my hot soup test.

Recommended for All

Overall, I am very pleased with the iSkin ProTouch and ProTouch FX. The tactile response is very nice, and it has protected my keyboard well and, seemingly, my health. Ilene thinks that the iMac wired keyboard gets dirty easily and some smudges are hard to remove, and finds that these skins solve the problem completely. I recommend these for accident-prone users, neat freaks, or anyone that just wishes to customize the color of their keyboard. The wireless keyboard model also comes in green (Kiwi) and orange (Sahara).

by Galen Wood


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