ZAGG invisibleSHIELD versus Ghost Armor for the Microsoft Zune

My Zune goes where I go, which usually means the car, the gym and on occasion an airplane.  As a result, it’s exposed to enough action that scratches and nicks on its glass screen are a real worry.  I’ve already posted about the problems I once had with dust under the screen of my Zune, so combined with my worries regarding a scuffed display I did some research into my options for protecting the integrity of my MP3 player’s appearance.

The product I initially chose to use was from ZAGG, a company which offers an extensive line of clear protectors for phones and other mobile devices.  ZAGG claims that its transparent invisibleSHIELD products are manufactured out of the same materials that line the leading edge of helicopter blades from damage during flight.  There are a number of impressive videos out there showing demonstrations where ZAGG owners attempt to scratch their protected screens with keys or other metal implements, to no effect.

The ZAGG invisibleSHIELD product also had the benefit of covering the entire face of my Zune, which meant that dust could no longer enter through the gap between the edge of the screen and the body of the device.

I will say this for invisibleSHIELD – it doesn’t scratch easily.  The ZAGG product offered decent protection for my screen from both nicks and dust.  However – and this is a big caveat – there were two problems with the product.  The first is that when invisibleSHIELD scratches, it’s immediately noticeable, refracting light around the scratch to create a rainbow effect on the screen.  Scratches are also very visible under bright illumination or daylight.

Given that ZAGG offers a lifetime guarantee on its product, the idea of swapping the screen cover from time to time whenever accumulated scratches become too distracting might seem like a reasonable trade-off for protecting the glass.  This brings us to the second problem with invisibleSHIELD – it is virtually impossible to apply properly to a device.  In the two years that I used the product ZAGG changed the applicator kit that comes with each warranty replacement three times, but the end result was the same:  an installation fraught with air bubbles trapped under the surface, uneven adhesive transparency, difficult placement and centering on the screen and a tendency to attract dust and fingerprints during the entire process.

Eventually, I got sick of dealing with invisibleSHIELD and I started to look for a replacement.  I landed on Ghost Armor, a protective product purportedly made of the same stuff that ZAGG was hawking, but with a few important differences.  Ghost Armor claims to be self-healing, which means that small scratches gradually fill in over time by themselves, and in addition to providing a lifetime warranty the company also offers kiosks in malls where employees will install the protective screen for you for a nominal fee.  They’ll even do it over and over until you are satisfied with how it looks on your device.

Not having to deal with ZAGG’s clunky application process ever again was worth taking a chance on Ghost Armor, and after six months of use I am glad I did it.  The initial application has held up well, and while Ghost Armor doesn’t seem to resist scratches the same way invisibleSHIELD did, there is an important difference in how they manifest on the surface of the protective layer.  The scratches are clearly visible when my Zune is powered off, but once the backlight is on they somehow disappear, leaving me with a clear view to my videos and menus.  This impressive feat effectively doubles the value of Ghost Armor over invisibleSHIELD, as I no longer have to have it replaced every time it gets marked up – and if the scratches ever do get out of control, I’ll drop it off at the mall and have it ready and waiting for me half an hour later.

Ghost Armor is the clear winner for me when it comes to protecting my Zune from scratches.  In terms of dust-under-the-screen protection, I still have a few reservations, as the Ghost Armor product is not edge-to-edge like ZAGG’s offering.  In the six months since I started using Ghost Armor I have not had any dust accumulation issues, which might point to a build quality problem with my original Zune rather than a design flaw that plagues all models.

Has anyone else made the switch from ZAGG to Ghost Armor – or vice-versa?

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