I Hate Fingerprints on My Screens

3 minute read

When I sit at a desk, there is often a screen in front of me, usually many. The slightest motion anyone nearby makes towards pointing at something on my screen will instantly get me defensive. I am instinctively concerned that someone will touch my screen. I cannot stand marks, dirt, blemishes or most of all fingerprints on my screens! The screen attached to a computer, or TV Tuner, DVD player or video game console is a window into the electronic world. It is the lens through which we receive the most direct communication from our digital devices. Any imperfection in this lens mars the clarity of that interface; and destroys the “suspension of disbelief” that what I’m looking at isn’t really there. I feel the same way about my glasses, the slightest hint of anything on them provokes a thorough cleaning.

Imagine my horror a few years ago as the future of technology began to suggest that touchscreen interfaces would become a big part of day to day life. Not only would I be unable to stop people from touching screens, I myself would have to touch my own screens all the time!!

I could stick with a non-touchscreen smartphone (few are left on the market). I could too, ignore the iPad and Android tablet craze, and exist with old fashioned LCD monitors attached to laptops and desktops. But this too would be incongruous with my character. I am fascinated by technology, and always drawn to acquire the latest gadget so that I may experiment and be at the forefront of the digitization of life. In the conflict between maintaining pristine glassy screen surfaces, and the prospect of being unable to experience the latest in technology and in human/computer interfaces; something has to give.

Right now, I’ve got 3 touchscreen smartphones, and two tablets. Since they joined me, I have been on a quest to minimize fingerprints and smudges on my screens by any means necessary.

I’ve tried just about every type of screen protector on the market. Many are flat out lousy. Some are purely useful for protection, while some go further and try to minimize oil and fingerprint buildup too. Often they do this with a matte finished plastic that also interferes optically with the screen. After trying (and ultimately removing) a lot of different protectors, I’ve settled on the SGP Steinheil Ultra Series protectors. They come in 3 different flavors (clear, oleophobic, and anti-fingerprint). I chose the oleophobic version as it has the best compromise between optical clarity and fingerprint resistance.

Screen protectors are great for smartphones, because they often get dropped, put in my car cup holder while I’m driving, or in a pocket. So the protection feature of films is useful. But I treat tablets much more carefully. When not in use, they are always covered or in a case. Putting a screen protector on a tablet is then less desirable. For a time, I just dealt with the inevitable smudges and fingerprints. Then I came across Nu-Screen. They have a particularly horrible website that looks like the digital equivalent of an infomercial. But the truth is, the product is absolutely fantastic. Simple really, it’s wax for your screen, like you would apply wax to a car’s paint job for a transparent layer of protection. It’s applied just like car wax too: put some on the screen, rub it in until it’s got a noticeable haze, let it set for a while, then buff it out with a cloth.


wax fingerprints fingerprints
Wax on, fingerprints off.

The second photo shows the polish after being applied and rubbed into a haze. The last photo was taken after I had buffed the lower half of the tablet. It leave a completely clear surface with no evidence of wax. On that polished surface, most touching produces no fingerprints or smears at all. A full thumb pad press leaves a barely visible residue which is easily wiped away with another finger. Wiping the tablet with a cloth after the waxing is noticeably smoother and any traces of oil or smudges are removed with ease.