By August 30, 2006

Hori Nintendo DS Screen Protector: Initial Impressions

The bottom screen of the Nintendo DS is touch-sensitive. I often use my finger on the screen, but some games require a more precise touch from the stylus. I’m nervous that the plastic tip of the stylus will result in a scratch or an imprint, especially during games like Starfox Command, which requires you to rub the stylus back and forth during play.

The Hori brand name carries a lot of cachet in the portable gaming world. It was well-regarded in the PSP realm, being the highest rated protector on PSP 411. Hori makes the offical screen protectors for Nintendo, so they have to be good, right? I bought one set of Hori Nintendo DS screen protectors from DecalGirl, along with a skin for my DS Lite. The screen protector was $6. DecalGirl was great as usual, easy checkout and quick delivery. I was a bit peeved that the mail carrier bent the package a bit to fit it in our mailbox, but nothing was damaged.

The Hori screen protector layer is sandwiched between two application layers. The layer on the bottom is removed first, revealing the sticky protective layer. The top layer is then removed, leaving you to play your games in plastic-protected bliss. At least, that’s the theory.

The biggest weakness with the Hori is probably its biggest strength: the protective layer has a silicone-based adhesive on it. Once placed firmly on the DS screen, the Hori is good to go. You can remove it with some transparent tape and luck, but otherwise you can game all you want without having to worry about the screen slipping. The downside to this approach is that if you see any lint, dust particles, wombat hairs, etc after you’ve applied the screen you are fucked. I cleaned my screens ahead of time with rubbing alcohol, and then cleaned it again with the lint-free cloth Hori provided. I thought I had an air bubble on the bottom screen, only to find out it that it was very small piece of lint. I had to pull the screen up, and without the application layers to help guard against fingerprints and oil, the screen never reapplied as well as the first time.

I had even more trouble with the top screen. There were a few pieces of garbage on the protector, and I made the totally bone-headed mistake of wiping at them with the lint-free cloth. What the hell was I thinking? The upper screen was a total loss.

If I had to do it over again (which I will, if I want to use a screen protector), I would buy multiple Hori packs. If you have even a smidge of obsessive-compulsiveness in you, you will not be happy with your first run. I would also advise against using the included lint-free cloth. I imagine one used on sunglasses would be much better. Also, the bottom screen protector doesn’t quite cover the length of the screen.

This review at 4 Color Rebellion provides a very good application tip that I wish I would have read about before following Hori’s directions: roll some transparent tape over the screen after cleaning it. The tape will eat up the tiny lint particles. Smart.

I’m not sure how well the Hori protects against scratches, but for now, my perfectionist requirement compells me to rate it:

Three out of five STFU mugs
full STFU mug full STFU mug full STFU mug empty STFU mug empty STFU mug

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