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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best privacy screen filters for laptops

Last Updated August 2019

The passage of time has brought us many technological marvels, but it has also resulted in increased lawlessness. People are trying to steal your information and hack your accounts all the time. Studies show that hackers could gather five or more pieces of highly sensitive information off your computer screen in 15 minutes or less using nothing but their own eyes. And they could gather even more information if they were to use a smartphone to photograph your screen.

If you have important information on your laptop that needs to be protected from prying eyes, you need a privacy screen. If there’s an unscrupulous coworker trying to get ahead by stealing your ideas or a thief sitting quietly beside you on an airplane looking sideways at your laptop, you need a privacy screen. These are just two possible scenarios out of hundreds.

Which privacy screen should you get for your laptop? Keep reading to discover one that’s right for you and your system.

Most “visual hacking” takes place in the office, especially at the front desk where customers might try to lean forward to watch what you’re typing or inputting. This is one scenario where a privacy screen can be invaluable.

How privacy screens work

If you’ve ever seen vertical blinds, you know that when they’re open, the thin blades turn sideways so their thinnest edge is facing the window. This lets you see out the window between the blinds without problem. When you start moving to the side, the body of the individual blinds begins to block out the light until you can’t see out the window at all. Privacy screens use micro-louvre technology to accomplish the same thing for your computer screen.

Key considerations

Dimensions

The size of your laptop screen and its aspect ratio will dictate the privacy screen you need. If you don’t know those numbers, it’s easy to get them.

Size: To determine the size of your screen, measure from a top corner diagonally to the opposite bottom corner. Don’t measure the casing around the screen; just measure the screen itself. The number you get is the screen size.

Ratio: Next, measure the width of the visible screen. You can measure it across the top or the bottom or anywhere else on the screen, as long you’re holding the tape measure completely horizontal. Then, measure the height of the visible screen. Divide the width by the height to get the aspect ratio. If the resulting number is closer 1.33, your screen is a standard full-screen size. If the number is closer to 1.78, you have a widescreen ratio.

Attachment methods

Most privacy screens come with one of two methods of attachment, but many have both. Adhesive strips are popular but, once in place, it can be difficult to remove the screen. If you do remove, the adhesive will lose much of its strength, and you may not be able to put the screen back on.

The other method involves mounting tabs on the top and bottom of your laptop screen so the privacy screen can slide in and out.

EXPERT TIP

People directly behind you can see what is on your screen even if you use a privacy screen. Turn your desk or screen so that anyone approaching you is no longer directly behind you.


Staff  | BestReviews

Laptop privacy screen features

Material

Privacy screens are manufactured from thin plastic film that is no more than a few millimeters thick. They are made into flat panels that come in two varieties — with frames and without. Either way, they are lightweight and won’t noticeably add to the weight of your laptop. However, those with frames may make it difficult to completely close the lid of your laptop.

Glare

Some, but not all, privacy screens include glare-reducing film in their construction. Due to the way privacy screens work (see the FAQ section for more in-depth information), glare can reduce screen visibility even when you’re looking directly at the screen. Reducing screen glare improves your viewing while still protecting your data from prying eyes.

Color

Privacy screens are normally black, but manufacturers have begun experimenting with other colors in an effort to improve your viewing experience. These new options are more expensive, but users have reported good results from them with less blur than the black screens.

Matte finish

Privacy screens often wash out the bright colors on glossy computer screens, resulting in a matte finish appearance. It helps reduce distracting reflections, but the colors wind up looking dull. Lately, manufacturers have begun producing reversible privacy screens so you can choose a matte finish look or a glossy look.

Image clarity

Privacy screens reduce the amount of light coming from the computer screen, even if just by a small amount. This makes the screen dimmer than it would otherwise be. You can overcome this by adjusting the brightness controls on your screen, which will drain your battery faster, or by spending more for a higher-clarity privacy screen.

EXPERT TIP

Privacy screens aren’t designed to work with touchscreen laptops.


Staff  | BestReviews

Laptop privacy screen prices

Inexpensive

A low-end privacy screen for a 14-inch to 15-inch laptop will cost $20 to $30. This will be a plain black privacy screen that protects your screen from sideways views.

Mid-range

In the middle price range, from $30 to $45, are privacy screens that also offer protection from UV and blue light to protect your eyes. Many privacy screens in this range are reversible with both a matte finish side and a glossy side.

High-end

The high-end price range for laptop privacy screens is $45 and up. This subset of products includes privacy screens that are reversible and protect your eyes from UV and blue light. You will also find different colors that mask the screen outside of the normal viewing area.

Note: All these price ranges are for laptops with typical 14- or 15-inch screens. Prices are higher for laptops with larger screens.

EXPERT TIP

Privacy screens can reduce reflections on the screen that are often highlighted by the light coming from the screen itself.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • A laptop privacy screen with adhesive strips will allow your laptop to close with the privacy screen attached. With a laptop privacy screen that uses attachment clips, the lid may not close completely. Be aware of this if you close your computer to turn it off.
  • Privacy screens allow viewing from straight on but only to 30 degrees on each side of you. If you need to make a presentation to several people, take the privacy screen off, or they won’t be able to see it.
  • Some privacy screens cause blurring even when you look directly at them. Before mounting a screen with adhesive, hold the privacy screen against your laptop screen and check for blurring. If you have a reversible privacy filter, turn it around and try again. If there is still unacceptable blurring, return it and get a replacement.
  • Privacy screens do not protect your laptop from condensation or other environmental factors. If any liquid is spilled on your privacy screen, wipe it off immediately.

Other products we considered

We also like the Privox 14-Inch Privacy Screen Filter. Privox has partnered with LG Electronics to create a high-quality product that protects your privacy and reduces glare. There are two different ways to mount the privacy screen on your laptop, and there are many sizes available.

Another good alternative is the Magicmoon 14-inch Privacy Filter. Built for widescreen notebooks and laptops, this product can be mounted with adhesive strips that attach directly to your laptop or with sliding mount tabs that allow you to take the privacy screen off as needed. Magicmoon also has various sizes available.

The adhesive strips that hold a privacy screen in place often obscure a tiny strip of the screen where they are attached. This is because the privacy screen is the same size as the viewable area on your laptop’s screen. Getting a privacy screen with a frame will alleviate this problem.

FAQ

Q. How do you clean a privacy screen?
A.
Normally, a soft, lint-free cloth will keep it clean. Every few days, however, you should use antistatic cleaning wipes to prevent dust buildup. If stubborn fingerprints or smudges won’t come off, spray a vinegar and water solution onto a lint-free cloth and wipe the screen with it.

Q. Can people see the screen from above?
A.
Yes. Referring back to our example of the vertical blinds, moving up or down wouldn’t  obscure your view through the window. Micro-louvres are no different. Anyone looking at your screen from directly above can see it just fine.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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