A screen protector is an additional sheet of material—commonly polyurethane or glass—that can be attached to a screen of an electronic device and protect it against physical damage. Screen protectors first entered the market after the rise of personal digital assistant (PDA) since PDAs were often operated via a stylus. The tip of the stylus could scratch the sensitive LCD screen surface, screen protectors provided sacrificial protection from this damage. Since then the ubiquity of mobile smartphones has seen the screen protector become widespread.
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The first screen protector was designed and patented by Herbert Schlegel in 1968 for use on television screens. The "first generation" of screen protectors were made from very thin films based on the concept that an extra layer between the two surfaces (screen and stylus) would provide the needed protection to prolong the life of the device. These screen protectors come in packs of 10 to 20 protectors and are hand-cut by the end consumer to fit the specific device enabling the end user to fit them to different devices. Such screen protectors, while offering extra protection, did not completely fill the need in the marketplace. They peeled off easily and they scratched almost as easily as the screens, causing the protector to be replaced often.
The newest generation of screen protectors are made from a much more durable film and are designed to be a more permanent part of the gadget which they protect. The material is a polyurethane-based film which is a little thicker than traditional screen protectors (.008 inches compared to .005 or .003), but the film is hardly noticeable once installed. Second-generation screen protectors on the other hand, although more expensive, offer better long-term protection and are generally made specifically for each individual device, providing the user with a better fitting protector.
Some "screen wash" spray products claim to leave a protective layer after use.
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