Review: HTC Shift full body invisibleSHIELD

Shift_invisibleshield_review

The leather pouch included with the HTC Shift X9500 is great for traveling and storage, but it leaves the UMPC completely exposed and unprotected while in use. Rather than turn to a leather case or silicone skin that enables in-case use but adds considerable bulk and masks the Shift's natural beauty, I chose the "virtually indestructible" 0.2mm-thick full body invisibleSHIELD by ZAGG.

The scratch-proof shield comes with a lifetime warranty that includes free replacements, improves grip, and is completely clear. See the photo above? That's the Shift with the invisibleSHIELD installed!

Unboxing

If you've purchased an invisibleSHIELD before, then you know it's usually nicely packaged with the name and a full-color image of the product it's been designed to protect.

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Not so with the full body film for the HTC Shift, which is rolled up and stuffed into an unmarked cardboard tube.

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Along with the shield itself, the tube holds a bottle of SHIELDspray (a lightly scented application solution that is "not harmful to skin, eyes, or if swallowed"), small rubber squeegee, application instructions, and warranty information.

Design

The shield is made of clear urethane plastic that, according to the FAQ, contains "unique properties that allow it to provide self-healing qualities and unparalleled abrasion resistance."

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The full body invisibleSHIELD for the Shift is made up of 15 individual pieces. They are divided onto two paper backings according to where they belong on the device (front or back).

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The "precision pre-cut" pieces leave almost nothing on the Shift uncovered. The pieces are independent of each other, so they can be applied in any order and in any combination. For example, if you don't want to cover the hardware buttons and mouse pad flanking the display, you don't have to.

Installation

The application instructions included with the invisibleSHIELD and also available online are easy to understand and follow, but it still takes a good deal of patience, trust, and time to get the shield on the Shift.

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From start to finish, it took about 90 minutes to get each piece evenly moistened (and in some cases, dripping) with the SHIELDspray, placed on the Shift, slid into position, and smoothed out with the squeegee.

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Applying wet pieces of film directly onto a $1500 computer, often dangerously close to open ports, is definitely not for the faint of heart. It takes a large leap of faith to trust that ZAGG isn't playing some kind of cruel year-round April Fool's joke and that the liquid won't damage the gadget.

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ZAGG recommends that the Shift remain off for 12 to 24 hours to allow the shield to set and the SHIELDspray to dry, so I squeezed out as many air bubbles as I could and fixed the corners/flaps to the best of my ability before handing everything over to time and the invisibleSHIELD's "self-healing properties."

Imperfections are supposed to "work themselves out over 2-3 days" after application, so I tried not to be concerned by all the bubbles.

And a few days later . . .

this is how the invisibleSHIELD looked:

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Aside from the dust that collected along some of the edges and a few minor imperfections, the full body shield looked pretty perfect.

Function

In addition to invisibly protecting the Shift from scratches and other cosmetic damage, the invisibleSHIELD adds a bit of grippiness to the unit while remaining smooth and glossy. It also diminishes the appearance of fingerprints/smudges and doesn't interfere with the ease of slipping the device into a case or using it with other accessories.

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I installed 14 of 15 pieces (I chose not to cover the mouse pad) and plan to keep 13 of them applied indefinitely.

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What I removed was the screen protector (also available separately).

Although I like the idea of protecting the Shift's 7-inch touchscreen, the invisibleSHIELD's grip-improvement feature negatively impacts the display's usability. It has no affect on its visibility, as it's incredibly clear, but it makes the stylus and fingertip "stick" to it, which in turn makes scrolling difficult and unpleasant.

The screen protector is also a tad too reflective for my taste. It isn't unusably reflective, but I personally don't need to use the Shift as a mirror.

Here it is with the screen protector:

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And here it is without the screen protector:

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Notice how much clearer the AT&T Tilt's reflection is in the first photo.

Conclusion

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The full body invisibleSHIELD for the HTC Shift offers durable, lifetime protection that improves grip, adds no bulk, shows off the UMPC's gorgeous design, and doesn't interfere with included or third-party accessories. Installation takes a long time and the screen piece is better left off, but my search for a way to keep my Shift in pristine condition with no compromise is officially over.

The invisibleSHIELD for the Shift is available now for $29.95 (full body) and $17.95 (screen only).

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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