Tech News on G4

Privacy Filters Blind Those Prying Eyes

Apr 8, 2010

By Greg Gazin - Apple Gazin’ - G4 Canada

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We've become a mobile generation, carrying around our technology and communicating from all corners of the earth. And while we seem to pour out the details of our lives out on FaceBook or work on very sensitive company financials, sometimes we need to ensure that what's on our screens on our laptops and mobile devices is kept hidden from prying eyes. In fact with privacy and personal information protection legislation, you could potentially open up a whole new can of worms, should sensitive information be leaked out.

Now often it's just a matter of turning your screen away from an onlooker or asking them (politely of course, we're Canadian), to simply mind their own business. And while a nosy neighbour may look away in embarrassment or snarl with attitude, those with less than honorable intentions might be a wee bit more persistent. Regardless, privacy could be a real challenge, especially if you're on public transit or cooped up for hours on end in the tight confines of an airline seat.

3M Privacy Filters

Privacy FiltersThe solution - 3M privacy filters. They fit over your screen so that only you can see, while onlookers peeking from either the right or left side of you will be welcomed with a dark blank screen. The same goes for the user. As they move sideways away from the screen, it will appear to dim to the point of where the display becomes black.

While the filters themselves simply look like a tinted sheet of plastic, they are actually made of optical grade microlouver film. There are 2 ways of looking at how it works. First, the film acts like a set of blinds or louvers that as you move to an angle, it narrows the cone of vision and thus ensuring privacy. Plus, it also acts like a pair of sunglasses that polarizes the light and reduces glare, making the best viewing area directly in front of the screen.

However, while it does sharpen and reduce glare in direct line of sight, because the screen becomes slightly darkened, the screen brightness is somewhat reduced. This may increase the need to increase the intensity of the display - which may also affect battery life, but it might be a necessary tradeoff to protect your privacy.

The filters are reversible allowing you to choose a glossy or matte finish and have an easy-on and easy-off attachment system. The filters can remain even when the laptop lid is closed.

Privacy FiltersNew Gold Standard

3M has recently introduced 3M GOLD Privacy Filters. Not only do they look really cool, they are actually designed to improve the readability of your screen. It increases the sharpness of text and graphics without distorting or blurring the screen and lets more light in than the non-gold filters, while using the gold technology to further enhance privacy.

Another benefit of these filters is that they also act as a screen protector, keeping you display from smudges, fingerprints.

But privacy does come at a cost. Depending on size and configuration,  in Canada, you're looking at about $50 for an 8.9" netbook to about $120 for a filter suitable for a 17" LCD Widescreen Gold Privacy Filter. 

3M Mobile Privacy films for handheld devices are also available in select configurations including Blackberry for under $20.

Whether or not you invest in one depends on how secure you feel you need to be. You need to ask yourself what is privacy worth to you?

To find these visit Shop 3M Canada or your favourite retailer.

Greg Gazin can be reached at  gadgetguy “at” telus “dot” net Or

About G4 in Canada
G4 launched on September 7, 2001 as the ultimate television resource for technology news, information and entertainment. Co-owned by G4, Rogers Media Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc., G4 is Canada's first television channel 100% dedicated to technology, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The channel features the latest technology news, information and entertainment in an exciting and high-energy format. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite.