While waiting on the delivery of my Model S I purchased a number of accessories, and while I considered a screen protector for the 17″ center display I didn’t order one.
I’m the type of person that doesn’t use a screen protector on any of my other devices and don’t have any kind of case at all on my iPhone. I figured I wouldn’t want anything on the 17″ screen either, but a few things changed how I feel about a screen protector for the Model S.
I love the 17″ display on the Model S and that it has a ton of functionality and is a touch screen. But that does mean its always covered with fingerprints. At least once a day i’m wiping the screen off to remove the fingerprints with the cloth that Tesla conveniently provided. While its not the end of the world, anything that would reduce those fingerprints would be really welcome.
The 17″ screen on the Model S is pretty scratch resistant but does develop some scratches over time. Like washing the car, dust is abrasive and you don’t want to grind it into the screen. Unfortunately the frequent fingerprint removal essentially leads you to grinding dust into the screen and you end up leaving a lot of tiny micro scratches that add up over time.
While i’m very careful around the screen, a while back while I was waiting for someone I dropped my phone and it bounced of the 17″ and left a small scratch.
Another realization I had is that i’m replacing my phones and other devices every 24 months but i’m planning on keeping the Model S for much longer. Its one thing to live with a nasty screen scratch for a year until your contract is up, its another thing to have to wait 6 years to trade in the car.
Second on my protection wish-list would be some kind of scratch protection.
Before taking delivery of the Model S I was somewhat concerned about the 17″ screen glare but i’m happy to say that after 20,000 miles it really hasn’t been that much of an issue. Tesla has positioned and angled the screen just right so that glare is rarely an issue except when i’m trying to take pictures. For the passenger it can be a different story and they’ve reported a lot more glare. So in third place on my wish-list would be some kind of glare reduction to help with that.
Abstract Ocean Screen Protector
I had heard of Abstract Ocean for their FobPockets but they also have a line of Screen protectors that aren’t as well known. They have a few different options which can be a bit confusing:
I had the opportunity to try both the Matte and the HD Clear versions.
For my tests I cleaned my screen well, used the car for a week and then took pictures. Then I installed the screen protector by their instructions (more on that bellow) and then used the car for a week and took more pictures. Pictures of a black screen covered with fingerprints aren’t too exciting.
HD Clear Testing
The HD Clear protector was the first one I installed. The protectors come in a round shipping tube and include installation instructions, the screen protector, a plastic applicator, and a screen wiping cloth.
There was some confusion with the package as it was supposed to be the Matte screen protector but ended up being HD Clear version even though the external and internal packaging indicated Matte. The company quickly sent me the correct one at no cost so I got to try both.
The installation instructions are quite clear and there’s a great video to show you the installation process. They’re very serious about dust being the main issue here and thats where the main challenges are. If you’ve ever applied a screen protector to a phone or tablet, think about that challenge x3. Its a much bigger screen and covering that much area and avoiding all dust is really hard.
The screen protector comes with plastic covers on the front and back of the screen protector. You leave the front one on until you’re all done but the back one you peel away slowly as you apply it. I found the fit and design to be really good, the only difficult part was doing it completely dust free.
Here are a few extra tips I figured from doing this twice:
- I found it helpful to have a few moist screen cleaning wipes in addition to the dry one they provide to get those extra dust motes.
- Very important: Do not touch the sticky part of the screen protector no matter what. I did on the first install without even realizing it and it left a lasting impression.
- Once you get the dust settled its best to install fast to keep the time for problems to happen to a minimum. Be fast but be careful like they did in their video. Its just really hard to pull that off on your first install. My second install was much better.
- I used a flashlight to really inspect things as I went to scrape out every bubble. You want to do this all during the install, not at some later time when you notice annoying bubbles.
After install with the HD Clear protector you can’t even tell its there. It felt and looked just like the naked screen and you can’t see the edges of the screen protector. Nobody who rode with me noticed it was installed which was what I was hoping for. So the HD Clear had great quality and looks and would definitely help with screen protection. With the before and after pictures the HD Clear is a little less susceptible to fingerprints than the naked screen. The glare seemed to be about the same and it worked well with both normal glasses and polarized sunglasses.
The Matte screen protector was the second one I did and it was much easier to install just because it was my second install experience.
With the Matte protector you can tell its there as there’s now a matte finish to the screen. While not as perfectly clear as the naked screen or the HD Clear protector, it is still has great clarity day and night. It also worked well with both normal glasses and polarized sunglasses.
The Matte protector not only protects the screen but also helps with glare and fingerprints. The glare improvements are immediately noticeable and it does a great job of reducing the glare.
The fingerprint test went through the week long trial and while fingerprints are still there they’re much more muted than with the naked screen or the HD Clear protector. I definitely liked the Matte protector better.
Abstract Ocean has a couple other versions including a HD Matte one, but they report worse performance with fingerprint and glare reduction than the Matte one so for my tastes this is the one to get.
Overall i’d recommend getting one of these protectors for your Model S to protect that big screen for the long term. I’d recommend getting two as your first install may not be perfect and fortunately they’ve recently reduced pricing to a very reasonable $22.99 for two.
I had the same experience with the matte screen protector. In fact, I bought the “twin pack” with one clear, and one matte protector, in case I messed one up, I had a backup, or in case I didn’t like the matte version. Turns out, I kept the matte version and the install went great, so I still have a new clear protector just sitting on the shelf.
My only added suggestion to improve installation results would be to use a new pair of powder-free rubber gloves. They’re really cheap at CVS, and wow, it makes avoiding dust and fingerprints (like you had experienced) so much easier. Sometimes you need to pull from the back side to remove dust, and the rubber gloves allow you to do that without marring or distributing the sticky mounting surface.
Thats a great idea I didnt think about gloves.
Great review!! In case there are any Australian readers – Abstract Ocean’s screen protectors are available through EVnomics.com.au
Thanks and good tip!