Review: Moshi PalmGuard (2015 Version)

by on April 24, 2015

We took a look at the Moshi PalmGuard back in 2013, and were quite impressed, although the actual version we tested was for the 13” MacBook Pro (without Retina Display). Currently, the company offers models for almost every portable Mac being sold and there are a few notable design changes. Did this peel-and-stick palm rest protector get better in its latest version?

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The version we tested this time around was for the 11” MacBook Air, and there was a noticeable change in the packaging—one of our biggest complaints about the old PalmGuard is that it was a single-use product. Any time that you’d have to take in your Mac for service or if it lost its stickiness, you had to replace the PalmGuard with a new one (removing it often damaged it by leaving weird plastic stress marks on the surface, too). The new version is much like Moshi’s other sticky products in that it can be removed and washed, restoring it to like-new condition. This is great if you find it getting a bit dirty, have to go without your computer temporarily, or just want to reposition it.

Why would you need a silver “sticker” of sorts to protect your palm rests anyway? The price varies based on size: $20 for MacBook Air and 13” MacBook Pros, $23 for 15” MacBook Pros, $28 for the old 17” MacBook Pro. Either way, $20-$28 is a cheap bit of insurance that your computer will continue to look new, especially if you’re the type of person who plans to resell it or are just overprotective against damage. If you wear a watch, it can prevent scratches, and if you have slightly more acidic sweat, it can prevent aluminum pitting, a kind of corrosion that leaves little black spots in the aluminum (I’ll leave it to myself from two years ago to explain the recent history of Mac palm rests):

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.

Installation is much easier than the older version, since you can mess up a few times before getting it perfect. I just peeled it off the backing and lined it up approximately where I thought it should go. There weren’t any issues with bubbling and it lined up right the first time. Even though the prior PalmGuard’s installation process wasn’t terrible, this one improved on it enough to be noticeable.

If you feel the glass trackpad needs extra protection, a TrackGuard is also included, although the trackpad’s glass is rather durable and less likely to be damaged like the aluminum. It also reduces sensitivity, especially for tap-to-click gestures.

Where the PalmGuard really stands out is that it doesn’t stand out—Moshi has gotten the color to match Apple’s aluminum almost exactly. This keeps the whole thing from looking cheap and out of place. Unless you’re really looking for it or feeling along the seam, it’s very easy to forget that the PalmGuard is there. One added benefit is that the PalmGuard’s material doesn’t get cold like aluminum, so using your computer in a colder environment may be a little less difficult.

One common misconception about most of Apple’s portables is that the aluminum everywhere is used for heat dissipation. With the exception of the brand-new MacBook, that’s simply not true, as the air intake and exhaust go through the hinge (or the additional edge vents on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display). In my unscientific testing, using the PalmGuard didn’t affect the temperature at all, even when the computer was under heavy processing load.

As this PalmGuard is now removable and washable, complementing Moshi’s iVisor AG, it makes sense that the part that comes in contact with your oily skin would need to be cleaned every so often. Removal is a piece of cake, and can be cleaned with mild dishwashing detergent. This also makes the PalmGuard as sticky as it was when new. As such, this change makes the PalmGuard a tremendous value, especially when you consider that it can last across multiple computers or repair trips. Furthermore, the tabs from some shell cases still cause the PalmGuard to bubble around the edges, but with it being repositionable, you can move it a millimeter in one direction or another to prevent this.

It’s worth noting that Apple has started discouraging the use of palm rest and keycap covers, at least on the MacBook Pro with Retina Display and most likely the new MacBook. As the MacBook Air and non-Retina MacBook Pros are very mature products, and the PalmGuard has existed through their entire lifetime, one can safely assume that it’s fine to use with those. Moshi will not be making one for the new MacBook, but has issued this statement regarding the other models:

Our PalmGuard has been tested in our labs for issues such as fit, scratching and feel. We understand that Apple has issued a warning against palmrest protectors in general, but rest assured the there should be no issues with the proper functioning of your Retina MacBook [Pro] with the PalmGuard properly applied as they were specifically re-designed to accommodate the tighter tolerance.

That being said, we can wholeheartedly recommend the PalmGuard for anyone with a MacBook Air or non-Retina MacBook Pro looking for something that matches their computer and wants to protect their palm rests from scratches, corrosion, or anything else. Moshi took an already great product and made it more appealing due to its reusable nature.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

Moshi took an already good product and added value and convenience, something we always appreciate.

Pros: Matches MacBook Airs and Pros, protects against scuffs and sweat, reusable and washable
Cons: May not be necessary for everyone, but no significant drawbacks

The Facts

5/5Product: PalmGuard
Company: Moshi
Platform: MacBook Pro (Late 2008 and later), MacBook (unibody Aluminum), MacBook Air (2010 and later)
Price: $20-28

This post has been filed in 'Book Accessories, Reviews