I love to take my work outside, but of course, like everyone else, I hate that laptop screen glare you get in the bright sunshine. Sometimes I brave it and end up like Squinty McSquinter after spending my working hours outside... but it makes it really hard to debug something when you can only see the screen at about 17%. When I stumbled across this Compushade Laptop Screen I thought at last I had found the perfect bridge between my tan and my geekdom.
I'm a complete impulse buyer but before I bought this, I thought I'd do a quick Twitterpoll just to see if anyone had used this. I'm also not a very good judge of what looks dorky versus what looks "cool" so I thought I'd get some feedback on that too, while I was at it.
Most people hadn't tried it, but felt it ranked pretty high in dorkiness. I also had a few suggestions for using a cardboard box or a jacket instead (which I'm pretty sure would be more dorky than this shade thing). However, being the consummate hopeful that I am, I figured I'd shell out my $30 and give it a shot, dorky or not. (What do I care, anyway?)
Installation was pretty easy; you just attach some Velcro strips to your lappy and then stick the two plastic panels on to the Velcro. The panels then fold together to encompass your laptop screen in a glorious mass of inky darkness (or so I'd hoped).
I first tried it with my laptop on battery power, which makes the screen a little dimmer, in order to save battery juice. Sad to say, there was virtually no difference when viewing with or without the CompuShade. I tried to give it every chance I could; I tried with the sun behind me, with it in front of me, and to each side. I also tried it in a shady spot, and still no difference really. If trying to look at your laptop in the sun is about a "1" on the scale of 1-10, then this maybe bumped you up to a "2."
Next I tried it while my laptop was plugged in, which offered a little better result. I again tried all angles and all sun positions but this maybe took me from a "3" to a "4." Hardly enough to justify the purchase, or to enable me to spend any length of time working comfortably in the sunshine. In the shade, it took my viewing from about a "6" to maybe a "7" which is probably okay to do some real work. But if you're at a park or the beach, how often are you going to have a) shade and b) an electrical outlet?
Now, the manufacturers of the CompuShade also claimed that this would help with "privacy" so I engaged my kids in a little experiment. I made them sit next to me, as would potentially be the case on the bus or at a restaurant, and tested how easy it was for them to see what I was doing. While it did keep them from casually glancing and seeing what I was working on, if someone was really determined to see, they absolutely could. Especially if they are curious children. :)
Long and the short of it, my purchase was a bust. I guess I'm relegated to the whole "jacket over the head" thing, which somewhat defeats my purpose of sunbathing and refactoring simultaneously.