RadTech's Tech Makes Good on Promises

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 12:47 AM

Here is a scenario that probably sounds familiar if you have owned a laptop. You buy a sparkling new laptop and, no doubt, you would like to keep it in good shape — this is a machine that will be traveling with you for a long time. But soon, the case becomes marred and, if it is a particularly compact unit (such as an Apple PowerBook), your screen may start to show the impression of the keyboard on it. How could this have happened to your trusty companion? How can you prevent it next time? RadTech seems to offer some of the best solutions we have seen for these problems.

I myself wondered about this when I received my newly minted 12” Apple PowerBook, earlier this year, to take out on the field. As with many compact notebooks these days, the distance between the screen and keyboard is minute — it simply cannot be spaced all that far away when a primary concern is size. When you pick up a small laptop, there is the potential that the keyboard will press slightly against the screen. This may not cause any problems at first, but it can eventually lead to unsightly scratching and staining on the LCD's surface. This is not a design flaw, so much as a blunt fact of an ultra thin laptop — OfB Labs has confirmed cases of this with multiple different high quality makes of laptops.

In searching for a sensible solution to avoid this potential issue, we came across many products — leather covers for the keyboard, for example, that in theory would do the trick but did not seem quite right: leather could still have some oils in it, and some of the designs appeared to be thick enough that they probably could have strained the hinges of the laptop. Another solution placed a flexible, thin sheet of transparent plastic over the keyboard. Others suggested home made solutions, such as taking a soft cotton shirt or a good piece of denim and cutting it to fit. These suggestions sounded better, but still left something to be desired — the material would most certainly ravel on the edges, leading to an unsightly cover, at best, or something that would need to be replaced, at worst.

ScreensaveRz seems to be the only product we found that solves all of these problems. Also, unlike many other products aimed at protecting laptops, the ScreensavRz is actually reasonably price at less than $16, in most cases. ScreensaveRz is made with what RadTech calls Optex, a synthetic cloth that appears to be a mix between a lens or glasses cloth and micro-suede. It is somewhat stretchy and made large enough to cover the area of the keyboard and touch pad that could potentially touch the screen. The company produces different size cloths for all of the different sizes of PowerBooks and iBooks as well as a variety of cloths intended to fit a PC laptops.

RadTech's cloth has a big advantage over the other solutions: not only does it protect the screen from the keys and grime on those keys, but it also is a machine washable cloth designed to clean optics. We were not convinced that a synthetic cloth could really be the ideal choice for cleaning a delicate screen, however, so we decided to do a set of tests.

For the purpose of the tests, we used GE's Lexan material, which is less scratch resistant than a LCD, and rubbed different materials over it over two hundred times each. The materials used were the ScreensaveRz, a standard lens cloth, a piece of soft cotton fabric and a high density (400 thread count) cotton sheet. The lens cloth and ScreensaveRz were tested both wet and dry, the others were tested only wet.

What we found was impressive. Using an informal survey technique on how much damage had been caused to the Lexan using the different materials, the samples cleaned with the ScreensaveRz were selected every time for the least scratching and the least severe scratching. ScreensaveRz used dry caused substantially more scratching to a dusty piece of Lexan than it did when moist, but it still caused noticeably less than the optical grade cleaning cloth.

With ScreensaveRz coming out as the clear winner for not only protecting, but also cleaning LCD screens, we simply cannot recommend it strongly enough for those looking to keep their laptops in good condition.

We also tested a related RadTech product known as the PowerSleevz, developed specifically for Apple PowerBook and iBook laptops. The PowerSleevz are made out of a thicker variant of Optex and work as a “form fitting” sleeve that stretches around the computer. Due to the PowerSleevz tight fitting design and softness, it actually cleans light surface smears off the laptop each time the computer is inserted and removed from the sleeve. The sleeve also makes it easier to grip the smooth aluminum surface of an Apple laptop and protects it from scratching if it is placed in luggage or a carrying case that has zippers or other potentially sharp surfaces such as pens in a pen holder, for example.

Moreover, the PowerSleevz is also a good choice for the laptop owner who leaves his laptop on the desk even when it is not being used, since it will keep dust away from the system and protect it from small objects that might fall on it and otherwise mar it. It is thin, and is not designed to protect like a traditional case though. Be warned that dropping a ceramic coffee mug on the laptop will still do your machine no favors even with the PowerSleevz on.

After several months of use, the PowerSleevz we tested shows no signs of wear and did not appear to be becoming stretched out from the repeated inserting and removal of the laptop. Likewise, after use and abuse, the ScreenSaverz appeared just as it had new without any way hint of the repeated harder than normal rubbing we inflicted on it against various surfaces.

It is these products ingenuity, quality and reasonable pricing that allows us to whole heartedly recommend them for protecting your systems and to present the ScreensavRz with our “Editor's Choice” seal for September 2004. While the products sound great even before you see them, it is amazing how well they live up to the marketing claims surrounding them — they have no faults that we were able to discover and too many benefits to count.

Chris Olson, of Apple authorized reseller Advanced System Technologies, contributed to this report.

Summary of ScreensavRz and PowerSleevz

UPSIDE: If you are trying to protect your mobile computing
investment, a look at RadTech's products should be a mandatory stop. The ScreensavRz
and PowerSleevz are unique and thoughtfully designed for just this purpose.
(ScreenSavrz: $13.95 - 17.95; PowerSleevz: $22.95 - $24.95, www.radtech.us).

Timothy R. Butler is Editor-in-Chief of Open for Business. You can reach him at tbutler@uninetsolutions. com.