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Now About Those Fingerprints…

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It’s no secret that one of the ugly blights of touch computing has to be greasy, smudgy, ugly fingerprints. Touch a screen and you’re going to leave a mark of some kind. No one can keep their fingerprints that free of grease and grime. It just doesn’t happen.

There are no real practical solutions for this that I’ve seen beyond the oleophobic coating that Apple puts on its iPhones and iPads. The coating doesn’t prevent fingerprints accumulating, but it does make it easier to wipe them off.

So, we just accept this as a way of touch screen life. Or does it present a compromise we’d rather not face?

Today I had an important presentation to make to a potential donor for the theatre. It was a lunch meeting. When we have those kind of meetings a lot of thought goes into what we call the “leave behind” piece. That’s simply a collection of materials that tell our story so that the potential donor can refresh his/her mind after the fact. I’ve been working on the materials for this packet for some time. This morning when I woke up I thought it might be a fun, and perhaps impressive way of presenting the materials on the iPad. After all I had created them in Pages and KeyNote. But after I jumped through the ridiculous hoops one has to pass through to get them on the iPad, I realized that this was a bone headed idea.

After looking at the presentation on the iPad, I realized that no matter how sexy the device may be and how fun it might be to present this way, any benefit would quickly be wiped away once the screen went dark and those fingerprints magically appeared. Sure, I could wipe the screen clear before I started, but the beauty of presenting things this way is that the donor could swipe through the different screens leaving their own mark on the iPad.  In addition these kind of meetings are typically filled with conversations that can be lengthy between one slide and the next, allowing for the screen to black out.

So, in the end I decided to stick with paper instead of pulling out the shiny new device. I just couldn’t risk making a negative impression or taking the time to explain how the magic oleophobic screen worked.

One of these days we have to come up with a better way.

On a more positive note. I picked up an InCase sleeve/case for the iPad this weekend. Unbeknownst to me, the soft interior of the case does an excellent job of cleaning the iPad screen of fingerprints after it gets toted around for awhile.
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Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

14 Comments

  1. GoodThings2Life

    04/13/2010 at 2:37 pm

    I have to give credit to Apple for the oleophobic coating. All devices should be using this without a doubt. However, you’re absolutely right that sometimes we have to stop and realize that touch isn’t an end-all-be-all solution.

  2. Rob

    04/13/2010 at 2:51 pm

    Warner – take a look at the Invisible Shield screen protector. It has taken away about 95% of finger print issues.

    • Warner Crocker

      04/13/2010 at 4:51 pm

      How’s the screen responsiveness on that, Rob?

      • HG

        04/13/2010 at 6:03 pm

        Warner I have installed the BoxWave brand screen protector and is working great. Responsive and seems to leave less finger smudges.

      • Sumocat

        04/13/2010 at 6:28 pm

        I removed the InvisibleShield on my iPhone after a year because my case gunked up the edges, and there was a slight but noticeable change in responsiveness. The change in smudges is huge, but I’d go without it.

      • Rob

        04/13/2010 at 10:12 pm

        I have not noticed a difference in responsiveness. I’m also going to be looking at a matte one to cut down on glare, and based on previous usage there are virtually no finger prints. The only gotcha on the invisible shield (for me) is that it is as glossy as the iPad screen.

    • ken

      04/13/2010 at 6:18 pm

      I got the Photodon anti glare. Very responsive except it covers the home button, so slightly harder to use and fewer fingerprints, but harder to wipe off obviously. Jury still out on antiglare vs clear. It diffused glare well and I like it better, but some may not.

  3. GC

    04/13/2010 at 3:23 pm

    I would suggest getting Apples case/cover. When the presentation is over close the case screen cover…then turn the power off with the cover closed. If you need to show something on the ipad again then power it on before opening the cover.

    No one will ever know how dirty your screen is.

    • Warner Crocker

      04/13/2010 at 4:52 pm

      I’ve ordered that case. This is a back stop until it comes in.

  4. Gavin Miller

    04/13/2010 at 5:42 pm

    Warner, have you been at the french fries again!

  5. Doctor_Roe

    04/13/2010 at 9:15 pm

    I hate fingerprints!

  6. John in Norway

    04/14/2010 at 1:54 am

    For reasons I won’t go into I had my fingerprints removed many years ago. Does this mean I won’t have this problem? :)

    • TheCoolest2 in NYC

      04/14/2010 at 4:18 pm

      No fingerprints but you will probably get smudges from your skin on the screen, on my tablet, it gets dirty, I just wipe it with a glasses cloth(microfiber cloth)

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