We’ve covered several “protective films” for iPods; these clear films provide scratch protection — though no shock protection — while letting your iPod look like an iPod. In the past, our favorite such product has been Power Support’s Crystal Film Set. But ShieldZone’s InvisibleShield is a step up the protection ladder, both because it covers nearly all of your iPod and because its film is the toughest I’ve seen. (Note that I tested the InvisibleShield for fifth-generation [5G] iPod; I have not tested other versions.)
According to ShieldZone, the InvisibleShield film “is made from a film originally made to protect military helicopter blades…a clear, urethane plastic…with unique properties that allow it to provide self-healing qualities and unparalleled abrasion resistance.” Although I can’t attest to the material makeup of the film, I can tell you that it offers impressively protective. When applied to one of our iPods, I was surprised by how rugged the film was — whether bouncing around inside a pocket with keys and coins, or tossed in a bag with a bunch of other metal and plastic gadgets, our iPod was impervious to scratches and scuffs. Even the film itself came through unscathed; other films, even when offering good protection, often show signs of abuse themselves.
Even attempts at purposely damaging the InvisibleShield were largely thwarted. Dragging a key across the back of a Shielded 5G iPod left no scratches, and it was only after dragging scissors over the film that the film itself showed residual marks — and those were faint and didn’t compromise the film’s protectiveness. (To be fair, I wasn’t applying significant force; however, it was enough pressure to badly scratch an unprotected iPod.) Overall, the InvisibleShield is protective enough to absorb most of the scratch-and-scrape abuse the typical iPod is subjected to, and durable enough that you won’t have to buy a new Shield every few months.
So what’s the downside? There are two. First, unlike most other films, the InvisibleShield’s surface isn’t completely smooth; although you can see your iPod’s screen clearly, with minimal distortion, there’s a slight bit of texture to the entire iPod, noticeable mainly when viewing its surfaces at an angle.
The second issue is the installation process, which is more difficult than that of many other “film” products. The Invisible Shield is very flexible before application; you wet each piece with the included spray solution, position it, and then use the included plastic tool to “squeegee out” bubbles. It sounds simple, but each piece needs to be positioned precisely, which isn’t necessarily easy, especially when the pieces begin to dry. For example, the InvisibleShield for fifth-generation iPods is composed of four pieces: one each for the Center button; the Click Wheel; the screen and front section; and the back and sides. The latter piece is especially difficult to apply, as it folds over each side and wraps around the iPod’s corners. (The InvisibleShield for 5G iPods covers all but small patches on the rear corners; the thin edge of the iPod’s front face; and openings for the iPod’s headphone jack, hold switch, and dock-connector port.)
To help make this installation process easier, I recommend ignoring the included directions and instead using the installation video provided on the ShieldZone Web site; I found this demonstration video to be easier to follow, and you won’t be left wondering if you’re doing everything right. (Note that even after installing an InvisibleShield correctly, it can be difficult to push out the smallest air bubbles. Thankfully, many of these bubbles magically disappear after 24 hours or so and the film will look much better than it did the previous day.)
That said, the InvisibleShield’s challenging installation process is worth the trouble if you want to keep your iPod safe from blemishes without having to put it in a bulky case. And the film is thin enough that you can put a Shielded iPod inside such a case for those times you need protection against shocks and bumps. Nor will the film prevent you from placing your iPod in dock-cradle accessories.–Dan Frakes