Review of 3M™ Privacy Filters

I was really excited when I started working out of WeWork from early 2019. I have heard so much about the co-working space, the ease of things just working by simply showing up and who can overlook the shiny beer tap.

My desk is in a private hotdesking area but I prefer to operate at the public hot desk since that is brighter, you get music and I get to people watch once in a while just to take my eyes off the monitor.

But with my working area fitted snuggly in between two other strangers, I can get quite paranoid about the stuff I am working on as some can be business sensitive.

The situation is made worse if I come into the office later than usual and all the better hot desks are taken.

I end up sitting at the ones with my back against a busy walkway.

I could either put a blanket over myself and my laptop to create my own private dome (which may draw even more attention onto me) or I could opt for a privacy filter to keep sensitive content from escaping my screen.

So, what is a privacy filter?

It is a panel or filter placed over a display, used to protect private data on the screen.

A privacy filter makes it difficult or impossible for someone to see the screen without being directly in front of it.

Of course, it shouldn’t impede your own view otherwise you might as well put cardboard over your screen and braille your way around your MS words.

Importantly, you want something that stands the tests of time/use and not uses something as durable as tissue paper.

And any quick search on Google will bring you to 3M™ range of privacy filters.

I decided to put them to the tests and specifically their Black Privacy Filter, Gold Privacy Filter, and High Clarity Privacy Filter.

Why is this even necessary?

Covid19 has transformed the way many knowledge workers perform their job. The office is out of bounds and everyone who can have to work from home.

Even as we emerge from this crisis, many companies may wake from the notion that everyone can only operate from the office.

Alas, working from home may not be ideal for everyone. Some of us have distracting kids, inadequate infrastructure (working on your bed?) or just could not muster our focus without inching towards the TV remote.

According to an article on TechCrunch by Danny Crichton, moving towards a Work from Anywhere situation is a better proposition since it allows companies to reduce their fixed cost on an assigned office desk AND the flexibility for the individual to work anywhere that they can perform better at.

One can imagine cafes like Starbucks gaining must of that benefit.

On the other hand, there are proposed changes to Singapore’s data protection law seeking stiffer penalties for info leaks.

If proposed amendments to Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Act go through, organizations may soon be slapped with fines of up to 10 per cent of their annual gross turnover, or S$1 million, whichever is higher.

This really put companies between a rock and a hard place. You can close your writing pad but you can’t close your laptop without stopping your work altogether.

Which is why a good privacy filter will become essential to enable remote work without compromising on sensitive work data.

Let’s break it down here to see how different they are.

3M™ Black Privacy Filters

  • 3M™ Privacy Filters fade to black starting at the 30-degree side angle
  • Effective “black out” privacy from side views outside the 60-degree viewing angle
  • Reversible between a glossy side and glare-reducing matte
  • Maintains incredible image clarity
  • Anti-glare coating
  • Protects from everyday dust and scratches
  • Easy to attach, remove and clean
  • Reduces 35% of blue light transmission from the display

3M™ Gold Privacy Filters

  • 3M™ Privacy Filters fade to black starting at the 30-degree side angle
  • Effective “black out” privacy from side views outside the 60-degree viewing angle
  • Nearly 20% more clarity than standard 3M™ Black Privacy Filters, the best level of clarity for monitors
  • Great for high-resolution monitors
  • Gold, glossy finish for incredible clarity
  • Reversible to glossy black
  • Reduces 35% of blue light transmission from the display
  • Helps protect from everyday dust and scratches
  • Easy to attach, remove and clean
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3M™ High Clarity Privacy Filters

  • 3M™ Privacy Filters fade to black starting at the 30-degree side angle
  • Effective “black out” privacy from side views outside the 60-degree viewing angle
  • Nearly 20% more clarity than standard 3M™ Black Privacy Filters, the best level of clarity for monitors
  • Glossy finish on both sides for enhanced clarity
  • Great for high-resolution monitors
  • Reduces 35% of blue light transmission
  • Helps protect from everyday dust and scratches
  • Easy to attach, remove and clean
  • Maintains functionality of touchscreen displays

Grading criteria

As you can see, the filters are quite similar in many ways and definitely fulfilled my functional privacy requirements.

So, the next step is to put it to a field test and see if it matches up to the specs listed and identify the one that is most appropriate for me.

Besides the obvious in preventing curious eyes from checking out my screens, my personal grading criteria would include:

  • Ease of installation and removal as and when needed
  • The durability of the filters (no bits and piece crumbling off the edges or the sides)
  • Screen clarity for the intended user (myself)
  • How much privacy it can introduce

Let’s run through the commonalities first.

Each of these filters is made from high-quality material. I tried snapping them at the edge and they hold up well without bending or breakages.

Installation can be done in three ways – the first would be via the slide mount tab that you can easily tape on the bezel of your screen. With that done, you can easily slide in and out the privacy filter.

The second is using adhesive strips to paste on the filter and to attach to the screen. The adhesive strips are specially made for optical display hence it is removable and attachable without damaging the screen.

The third and even better way is to make use of 3M™ COMPLY™ Attachment System. It allows for a quick and easy switch from the filter to screen with one simple flip. That is made possible with the proprietary hinge design.

Watch the full video here

And the differences?

Screen clarity test

There are actually 4 to compare with as the Black Privacy Filter is reversible. You can flip between the matte and the glossy surface.

I took these photos on the same day minutes apart so lighting condition is consistent across. From the screen clarity perspective, each of them allows for sufficient light to go through hence making the text legible. If I have to nit-pick, the High Clarity Filter would come out top as you can see that the text comes out just a little bit sharper than the rest.

Winner: High Clarity

Runner-up: Black (Matte)

Privacy test

On the privacy side, I took pictures from the side at around 30 degrees angle. You can tell that Gold and HC does a slightly better job.

If you are super anal about security, you would want to go with Gold as the colour tint makes the screen much more for the security paranoid in you, you would want to go with the Gold Filter as it offers 2x better privacy protection.

Winner: Gold Filter

Runner-up: High-Clarity

Verdict?

All three filters performed well functionally and blocked any side viewings. They do darken the screens, so you need to up the notch on your screen’s brightness.

The rest is really up to individual preferences. Whether you prefer to project a vibrant golden shield (Gold Privacy Filter), or maybe you are an illustrator and high clarity would be more important to you (High Clarity Privacy Filter).

Or perhaps you are in the security business and you cannot afford any visual hacks (Black Privacy Filter), there is a filter for your use case.

Personally, I would go with a High Clarity Privacy Filter as my laptop is pretty old and the resolution on the screen isn’t high by default.

I would need every visible pixel to make out the content on the screen especially when I’m designing collaterals during the course of my work.

Use this voucher to purchase your 3M Privacy Filter on Lazada and get 10% off the entire month of August. To learn more about 3M™ Privacy Filters, go to www.3Mscreens.sg.

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