Since I waited to purchase a Microsoft Band I had a few months to monitor comments about the fitness wristlet. One of the dings the band received right away was that the screen would scratch and nick easily. So, one of my very first purchases after buying the band was a screen protector. But, since I'm also a regular product reviewer, I snagged three different screen protectors from three different manufacturers to test to see the differences in installation, protection, and usage.
Two of the manufacturers' offerings were almost identical: the IQ Shield LiQuidSkin and the Skinomi TechSkin. As you'll see below, the Skinomi has one distinct advantage, so I opted to just focus on that one. The IQ version is just too similar to the Skinomi and doesn't offer the same value.
Each product recommends the same steps to apply the protective film:
Clean your device using the included microfiber cloth to remove dirt, dust and fingerprints
Use the included spray bottle solution to liberally spray the protective film
Spray the concoction on your fingers to ensure the film doesn't attract new fingerprints
Peel the protective film from its backing
Spray the sticky side of the protective film with the bottled solution
Apply the protective film to the device and slide it around until the cutouts match
Use a squeegee (or stiff card) to eliminate bubbles
Allow the protective film to dry for 12-24 hours
The products all apply the same, and tout pretty much the same features, including being self-healing, flexible, tough, anti-yellowing, and able to absorb impact, but there are some distinct differences between them. Here's what you need to know.
I've always had a lot of success with Skinomi products, so obviously the company's Microsoft Band protector had to make my list. I've used screen protectors from Skinomi for things like smartphones and even the original MotoACTV smartwatch.
While the Skinomi TechSkin uses the same installation procedures, it leaves one thing out. Both the IQ Shield LiQuidSkin and ArmorSuit MilitaryShield included a squeegee in the package, the Skinomi does not. Instead, Skinomi suggests you locate your own flexible card with which to squeegee out bubbles. They suggest a credit card, debit card, or other stiff card.
The one big advantage of the Skinomi solution is that it is a 6-pack of protective films, so if you screw up during installation (which is actually pretty difficult to do) you have extras on hand and you have a stack of replacements when the protective film breaks down over time.
Normally, $11.95, you can find the Skinomi TechSkin on Amazon for $6.95: Skinomi TechSkin [6-PACK] - Microsoft Band Screen Protector
The ArmorSuit MilitaryShield turned out to be my favorite and is the one I'm sticking with for now. The differences that made my decision are the clarity of the screen, superior feel, and better attention to detail.
The ArmorSuit seems to almost disappear on the Microsoft Band's screen face. I can't tell it's there, whereas the Skinomi was easier to detect. Of course, it could also be an installation failure, but I don't think so. I was careful in installing all three different protectors. I think part of the reason for this is that the ArmorSuit's cutouts take in account the exact sensor locations for the Microsoft Band. As shown below, the Skinomi has one long cutout to expose the sensors, while the ArmorSuit has cutouts for each sensor. I also found that the Skinomi, because of the larger sensor cutout would snag on my bed covers while I allowed the Microsoft Band to track my sleep. This didn't occur with the ArmorSuit.
Obviously, the separate cutouts make it harder to align the protective film during installation, but so far the extra effort has been worth it.
The ArmorSuit also just feels better to the touch. It feels glassy, while the Skinomi feels a bit sticky.
The Skinomi provides better value, though. The ArmorSuit only comes with two protective films, while as I mentioned previously, the Skinomi comes with six. So, with the ArmorSuit, you only have two chances to get installation right.
Regularly $19.95, the ArmorSuit is available on Amazon for $7.95: ArmorSuit MilitaryShield - Microsoft Band Screen Protector
To be honest, even after wearing the Microsoft Band constantly for a week, I never experienced the same scratches and nicks that a lot of others were reporting. The band's rubber has a couple scuffed abrasions, but I've yet to see any discernable screen anomalies. I wear the Microsoft Band with the screen on the inside of my wrist. I've always worn all my wristwatches this way, so I was already accustomed to doing this. But, I don't think this explains why I hadn't yet experienced scratches. When sitting and computing at my desk I use the Microsoft Wireless Comfort Desktop 5000, which has a soft palm rest so my wrist never touches the desk. This might help explain why my Microsoft Band has yet to experience screen damage.
Still, I have to assume that accidents will happen and I can't be the only person to ever not experience damage to the Microsoft Band. So, I'm glad I made the decision to install a screen protector before anything unfortunate happened.
Incidentally, all three of the manufacturers also offer full-body protection for the Microsoft Band. This includes the screen protector but also additional films to protect the other sensors. I opted to stick with just the screen protector for now, but if you want full protection for your investment, here's what's available: