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Cleaning Your Screen

Knowing how to sharpen the saw is one of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (which is only $3.99 for the Kindle by the way). Doing some work prior to stepping on the battlefield can tilt the outcome to your favor. For anyone who is a knowledge worker, maintaining your computer equipment is the equivalent of keeping your guns clean. Odds are, as a reader of this blog you are also your family’s IT department, keeping the fleet running.

Over the years I’ve picked up a few tricks on maintaining machines, and during time spent working with the differences that show up in an image on screen vs. in print, I have learned the value of a good screen.

A dirty screen creates eye fatigue, if you aren’t cleaning your screen on a regular basis wait until you have a good layer of dust and clean it up at the end of a long day. You’ll be surprised to see how it takes a load off your eyes.

How to clean it is another question. For years I have used Bausch & Lomb Sight savers, single wipes like the napkins you get at better BBQ joints (better as in food, not as in fancy). These have alcohol in them and they were great for cleaning CRTs, but I’ve heard mixed statements about using them on plastic LCDs. I’ve never noticed a problem or had any scratches, but after 3 years I tend to have either bulb problems where the monitor is not as bright as it has been, or other issues with laptop displays which require a replacement.

Recently I purchased TV Armor, a plastic shield that goes over the TV so now my son can throw Thomas the train at it all day without harming it. It came with a two stage wipe from Brillianize, which did a very nice job so I decided to buy more and run a test of the Bausch & Lomb vs. Brillianize vs. Klear Screen Travel Singles. I was surprised by the results, the key is not in the application of the cleaning fluid, but in getting it all off the surface afterwards. The Bauch & Lomb wipes (from my local BJ’s warehouse) do a good job if it’s not really dirty (or greasy), and if you keep wiping until it’s evaporated. If you wipe quickly and stop it will remain streaky.

Brillianize and Klear Screen are almost exactly the same. The Klear Screen wet wipes are a bit thicker than the Brillianize, but not by much. The dry wipes from Klear Screen are thicker but have a more cotton texture that left some residue not on the screens but on other surfaces such as laptop cases. The Brillianize dry wipes are more of a paper and leave no residue (even cleaning up the Klear Screen residue).

What made a huge difference was that the Klear Screen came with an iKlear, a small Antimicrobial Microfiber cloth. I thought this was all hype until I used it, it took more of the cleaning agent off the surface than either of the dry wipes and gave my laptop and iPad an amazingly clean surface. Once the grime is off with the cleaner if you are only wiping fingerprints the cloth does fine on its own. Since then I have noticed the staff my local Apple store using a similar cloth to wipe down their gear to get rid of “fried chicken fingers” off the hardware.

I have another post I’ll drop in a day or so about other cleaning things I’ve tested, but that’s it for screen cleaning.

PS – I’ve learned that screens are like photographic gear, the more you spent the better they are. There’s a reason why the Apple Cinema Displays cost so much, and it’s the same reason why film and photo editors use them. From my own anecdotal evidence I’ve found that I’ve only needed screen calibrators on cheap or really old monitors. If you spend enough up front and upgrade after a few years, calibration is never an issue.