Most accessories don’t have the honor of being chosen by Google to give to employees. When Moshi told us that their “Made for Google” Umbra privacy screen protector was included with the Pixelbook in the Google employee welcome kit, we knew we needed to get our hands on one.
Like many other screen protectors on the market, the Moshi Umbra offers easy installation. The longest part of installing it was cleaning my Pixelbook screen (which had seen better days) of smudges and dust with the included microfiber cloth.
Once that was done, installing the Moshi Umbra for Pixelbook was as simple as peel and stick and took less than 30 seconds. Unlike most other screen covers I’ve ever used, the Umbra went on correctly on the first try with no bubbles. If, for whatever reason, you need to remove the Moshi Umbra, the adhesive will remain sticky and it can be just as easily re-applied to the Pixelbook.
If you haven’t used a privacy screen protector before, it’s intended to prevent onlookers from snooping on your device activity. Considering the sensitive nature of the work many Google employees do on a daily basis, it’s no surprise Google would issue such privacy protectors to their employees.
The trick to privacy protectors, however, comes in not preventing you from using the Pixelbook normally. Given the choice between better security versus better usability, the Moshi Umbra for Pixelbook chose (I believe wisely) to favor usability.
For the first hour or two, it was slightly obvious to me that things didn’t look exactly the same, but after a week, I forgot I even had a privacy protector on until I tried to show things on my screen to friends. This is thanks in part to the thick, black bezels of the Pixelbook itself, which do a great job of disguising the screen protector’s presence.
One important aspect to remember is that the Pixelbook is a convertible, meaning it can be used in a variety of orientations including traditional laptop, presentation mode, and a tablet mode which also offers portrait orientation. In almost all of these cases, the Moshi Umbra’s viewing angles are just wide enough to accommodate normal usage and offer privacy. As soon as you leave that acceptable angle, the Moshi Umbra begins to darken and blur the Pixelbook screen.
Depending on lighting in the room compared to the brightness set on your device, this can be enough to entirely obscure the screen’s contents. Below, you can see the same image on the Pixelbook screen in a few different room and screen brightness situations.
As you can see, if your brightness is set high enough, images on your screen will still be clearly visible. Thankfully, even on max brightness, most text will be blurred and fairly unreadable. This is more than enough to keep a casual sense of privacy for your Pixelbook, assuming you don’t go around using maximum screen brightness or are unconcerned with bystanders seeing your images.
The only flaw in the Moshi Umbra for Pixelbook is that there’s no vertical privacy protection. If someone is standing anywhere directly behind you, or even above you, your screen is clear and unobscured. This also impacts using the Pixelbook in portrait-oriented tablet mode, as turning the device essentially makes the horizontal privacy non-existent.
Should you buy it?
If you’re even slightly concerned about privacy while using a Pixelbook, whether as a corporate employee protecting company secrets or perhaps a game master keeping secrets from the players, you should absolutely buy the Moshi Umbra for Pixelbook. The Umbra offers a perfect combination of privacy and easy installation.
On the other hand, if you believe there’s any chance you’ll one day need to watch a video on your Pixelbook with a friend or loved one, then a privacy protector is definitely not for you.
You can pick up the Moshi Umbra privacy screen protector for Pixelbook directly from Moshi for $65.