Review: Moshi PalmGuard
The MacBook Pro and MacBook Air are surprisingly sturdy machines, despite being quite thin. Part of this comes from the unibody design, and Apple’s lightweight, but strong aircraft-grade aluminum. Still, scratches and wear tend to happen, especially in areas that we interact with our systems the most. Moshi offers the PalmGuard, a $20 peel-and-stick protector, designed to match the finish of your computer and protect what’s underneath.
Over the years, the finish on the palm rests of Apple’s portables has changed. The iBook G3 started with a smooth plastic, designed to mimic its more expensive sibling. While this got dirty, it was easily cleaned. Towards the middle of the iBook’s run, the plastic shifted to a more matte texture, which continued through the entire run of the plastic MacBook family. Unfortunately, this stained and could even turn some really weird colors, depending on sweat, hand cream, lotions, or anything else you could think of. Thankfully, we can focus on Apple’s metal Macs, since that’s all that has been made for some time. The first PowerBook G4 was painted titanium, which led to chips and scratches being very visible. Anodized aluminum appeared in 2003 and has continued through the present. While surprisingly tough, it does oxidize rather quickly, causing scratches to look darker than the finish. For some people, sweat can be on the acidic side and lead to “pitting”, where small chunks of the surface wear away, replaced with darker oxidation. Either way, it’s not fun to have your $1000+ computer looking dinged up.
The PalmGuard hopes to prevent this by offering a thin, plastic protector that adheres to the palm rest. Installation is relatively easy, especially if you line it up, use masking tape to hold it, remove half the backing, and stick one side at a time. You must line it up right the first time, as it cannot be reused, and will show any sharp bends. An accompanying trackpad protector, the TrackGuard, protects the tougher textured glass surface.
Once installed, the PalmGuard blends in quite nicely—for being a different material as the rest of the computer, it’s almost indistinguishable, both in color and texture. It does not affect usage of the screen, nor does it generate extra heat (I checked temperature readings throughout different situations to see). Some snap on shell-style cases may cause the edges to “bubble up”, so make sure you see where the clips sit and install it carefully.
Extra sweat and dirt that accumulates can be wiped off, and it’s not easy to scratch the surface. Some may not like the trackpad protector, as diminishes responsiveness, and changes the texture. As I have a Magic Trackpad at home and work, I found it easier to leave the protector off for consistency.
Some may complain about the price for merely a plastic sticker, especially since it can’t be repositioned, but it’s nearly invisible insurance that will likely hold up as long as your computer itself. The fact that it matches the color almost exactly is worth the added expense over similar products.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
Out of the many accessories for owners of Apple’s notebooks, the PalmGuard protects and blends in very well.
Pros: Matches MacBook Pro, protects against scuffs and sweat
Cons: Apple’s anodized aluminum already fairly durable, so may not be necessary for everyone, one-time use