HP's Sure View -- protecting your laptop screen from prying eyes

Spying with binoculars
Credit: Thinkstock

No one likes other people looking at their laptops.

That is why HP along with 3M has come out with an integrated solution that stops the person sitting next to you in your friendly neighborhood Starbucks from snooping on what you're doing on your computer. The new technology, called Sure View, promises to save what's on your screen for your eyes only.

In IT Blogwatch, we try to spy with our little eye something too dark to see. 

So what exactly is Sure View? Sherri L. Smith gives us the background:

Have you ever been on a plane or train and noticed someone staring at your laptop's display...if you have an HP EliteBook 840 G3, you can end...snooping with a touch of a button thanks to HP's new Sure View technology.
Sure View...adds an integrated privacy screen to...two of HP business laptops...the...840 G3 and the HP EliteBook 1040 G3...HP teamed up with 3M to outfit both laptops with the lighting control film, adding an easy-to-access level of privacy and security...HP estimates that the technology will bump up the price of the two notebooks by approximately $75.

Sounds interesting. But how exactly does it work? Jeremy Kaplan has the details:

To use HP Sure View, you...just hit F2 to transition into privacy mode, a special backlight and...filter inside of the laptop that shunts light in such a way that 95 percent of it can’t be seen from an angle.
Anyone who’s used a privacy filter will...acknowledge that even immediately in front of the screen, light output is reduced and the screen quality is affected -- that’s...still the case here, though to a lesser degree. The screens on the EliteBook 1040 and 840 didn’t look as dark as a...screen might through a physical filter, but I could tell something was preventing them from hitting maximum vibrancy.

How does it work in a real-world situation? Kevin Lee shares his experiences:

We got to see the difference between displays equipped with Sure View and others with a privacy screen overlaid on top of it...there's a definite improvement with the integrated solution. What's more...HP and 3M's solution also works with touchscreen devices.
That said, it's not perfect. The amount of light that's obscured goes down as you increase the screen brightness, making it less effective. Early samples also had a problem with...picking up reflections, but we're hoping these are just pre-production issues.

Still not sure what situation would call for Sure View? Peter Bright makes it pretty clear:

I have a dirty secret: I am an inveterate reader of other people's screens. It's a compulsion...They're invariably more fascinating than my own, so if I'm sitting next to you on the plane I'll be checking out your e-mails, reading your presentations, and tutting at your use of Comic Sans...As such, I'm not a fan of HP's new Sure View screens -- but I...understand the justification.
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