ArtTech Review: Paperlike 2

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

I got my first copy of Photoshop 3 when I was 16. The installation process required something like 3 inches of stacked floppy disks but it was worth it. I’ve been obsessed with digital art since. It’s been a bit over 20 years since I added my first Wacom tablet to the equation. I never liked that disconnect from hand to screen for drawing but I used it for coloring and shading. Ever since then I’ve been dreaming of now. A time when you can draw right on a screen. I played around with the very first Cintiq models when they came out via my day job de jour but that wasn’t enough. Too big. Too heavy. Too hot. And the lag. Ungh. (They’re STILL too bulky if you ask me.)

Since then I’ve messed around with most available drawing tablets. I tried one of the first pressure sensitive stylus options (Pogo connect) on iPad3. I traded that iPad in for a Surface Pro. I loved that device for years and had every intention of getting a new one soon. Then the new iPad Pro models came out…

I made the mistake of handling one at the Apple store. It wasn’t much longer until I was an owner of the most tricked-out version. I thought THIS was the top of the mountain. I was wrong. My pals at Drink and Draw had not yet introduced me to Paperlike.

Paperlike is a matte screen protector with a bit of tooth to it. It, say it with me, makes your iPad screen feel like paper.

It delivers too. Ask any artist working on iPad. We ALL have one of these things. They rule. The only slight downside is they do degrade the clarity of your screen a bit. You get a bit of “rainbowing” especially against white backgrounds.” It’s negligible and you learn to ignore it quickly. A small price for a better drawing experience but one I didn’t love as a heavy iPad reader. Imagine then my glee when Paperlike launched Paperlike 2!

Paperlike 2 promises the same screen feel but improved clarity. On this it delivers. It’s not 100% crystal clear transparent but it’s really close and definitely an improvement on the Paperlike 1. Unfortunately it is a bear to apply. I am an out of control perfectionist. If you are too Paperlike2 is going to be a problem for you.

Paperlike2 follows the same simple application process as Paperlike1 but it attracts WAY more dust and the air bubbles are harder to get out. My first application had more bubbles than I could get out. Mercifully, Paperlike ships all of their screen protectors in pairs, knowing that it’s tricky to apply and you might need a spare. So I grabbed my spare. Again, all the bubbles. I tried to peel it up and fix it. That was a HUGE mistake and made everything much worse. I abandoned all hope and applied a spare Paperlike1 I had lying around lickety-split with zero bubbles or dust.

Along with perfectionism, another one of my other vices is impatience. Instead of calling it quits and leaving well enough alone with my reapplied Paperlike1, I immediately ordered another set of Paperlike2 for another $37. Had I known how outstanding Paperlike’s customer service is I would have contacted them first as they would have happily furnished a new set at no cost to ease my application frustrations. Oh well. I waited another two weeks (Paperlike is in Germany and shipping takes forever.)

When my next set arrived I was ready. I had a squeegee ready to help apply and I followed the suggestion of stetting my shower to scalding, steaming up my bathroom and applying in there. (The steam gets the dust out of the air.) I made sure I wasn’t wearing anything that attracted dust and set to work. It appeared that I succeeded! NOPE. Right in the middle of the screen, a big old piece of dust and the ensuing bubble. A sane person might let this one imperfection ride but not me. I grabbed the spare and tried to repeat the process. The result this time was this:

Not okay.

So now I’m mad. And I don’t have a spare Paperlike1 this time so I DO contact customer service and they ARE lovely and agree to send me ANOTHER pair, for free. It’s going to be two weeks AGAIN and as I mentioned I have no patience. So I looked into my options. I’m not normally a brand X sort of guy but I decided to take a flyer on this knock off that I found on Amazon. Let me tell you friends, it arrived in one day and went down perfectly the first time. My third set of Paperlike2 arrived two weeks later and I tossed them in a drawer still in the envelope. They reside there to this day. I’d learned my lesson.

All of this is not to rag on Paperlike. Their customer service team is first-rate and I ADORED their original product aside from that rainbow effect but in their successful attempt to reduce that minor annoyance they greatly reduced the ability to apply it cleanly and air bubbles are WAY more annoying when reading or watching movies than a little noise.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, guys.

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