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ATPM 9.01
January 2003



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Review: iSkin Keyboard Protector

by Christopher Turner,


Developer: acKNOWLEDGE

Price: $24.99

Requirements: PowerBook G4/667 and above or iBook (White)

Trial: None

When you use your PowerBook or iBook as your main Mac, one of your worries is that some sort of physical damage is going to put your beloved system out of commission. Most people think about dropping their iBook, and move to protect their portable with padded cases for traveling. This is an extremely valid concern and more than likely the most common injury for portable Macs.

Another possible danger that is often overlooked by portable users is liquid spillage, especially down through the keyboard. On a desktop system with a detached keyboard, if you spill your morning coffee and short out the keyboard, you’re pretty much only killing the keyboard. On your PowerBook, however, you could damage so much more. Beneath an iBook’s keyboard lies your AirPort card, your system RAM, your hard drive, and your motherboard. Imagine sitting in the coffee shop working on the Great American Novel, your next killer sales presentation, or the company’s quarterly financials, when a careless waitress knocks your arm and your iced espresso ends up coating your open PowerBook. The screen goes wacky, then black. And if you don’t have a backup (another article entirely), you are hosed, my friend.

The iSkin Keyboard Protector from acKNOWLEDGE comes to the rescue. Moulded to the keyboard layout of the iBook and all PowerBooks from the 667 MHz model on up, it protects your keyboard: it locks out liquids, dirt, crumbs, pet and human hair, and other nasty stuff that might end up between the keys.


Now, my PowerBook G4 is of the original 500 MHz vintage, and I overlooked the redesign in the keyboard layout amongst the TiBook revisions, but there was one. Andrew Ackloo of acKNOWLEDGE pointed it out to me, and when I received my Protector, I could see precisely where the revision was made. It’s really quite simple and in one key row: the F-keys. From the row of number keys to the bottom of the keyboard, the iSkin Protector moulds perfectly to my PowerBook’s keys.

However, where the Protector doesn’t mould precisely is where there is a gap between the F4 and F5 keys, and the F8 and F9 keys, throwing some of the subsequent F-keys out of alignment with the Protector. Again, this is not a flaw of the iSkin Keyboard Protector; rather, I am using the Protector on an earlier revision of the PowerBook G4 that is not officially supported by acKNOWLEDGE. For owners of the PowerBook G4/667 and up, you will have a perfectly moulded cover to your keyboard, as will all iBook users.


The Protector is made out of clear silicone, which makes it pliable and durable, perfect for its intended use. It also means there is no need for any adhesive to get it to stay on your keyboard, so there’s no sticky stuff to worry about cleaning off the keys later. And if you do happen to spill something on top of the iSkin Keyboard Protector, you can clean it off with some warm water and soap, then air dry the Protector, and you’re back in business.

The silicone also allows for a little PowerBook personalization: colors. In addition to the clear version, called White Frost, which I use, the iSkin Keyboard Protector is available in five colors, or Skin Tones: Blue Mist, Bubble Gum, Creamsicle, Lemonade, and LimeLight. So as to avoid confusion, those would translate as light blue, light pink, light orange, light yellow, and light green.


I was concerned with the iSkin Protector interfering with the PowerBook’s heat dissipation, as a lot of heat is convected out through the keyboard. I am pleased to report that I have not experienced any increases in my PowerBook’s fan coming on during my normal day-to-day usage, and bear in mind that my PowerBook is my main Mac workhorse.


My only disappointment with the iSkin Keyboard Protector is the price. Twenty-five bucks is a little high for the type of product this is. Fifteen dollars is more in line with my expectations, but then I am not privy to the design and production costs of such an item.

That said, if you’re looking to add a simple layer of protection from spills, dust, and dirt to your portable Mac, the iSkin Keyboard Protector fits the bill.

Reader Comments (15)

anonymous · January 8, 2003 - 23:35 EST #1
At the MacWorld Expo this week, the iSkin costs only $15+tax at OWC's booth. I got the blue one and it works perfect. No heat problems. At first, I thought it would decrease my typing speed because I'd need to get used to the extra pressure needed with the iSkin. But after testing it live (before I even purchased it), I can say that I spent my best $15 today.
anonymous · August 22, 2003 - 14:40 EST #2
Has anyone noticed whether the iSkin decreases the clearance between the LCD and the keys? Does it cause the keys to touch the screen?
herbert herrmann · March 23, 2005 - 15:19 EST #3
Does anybody know, wether iskin has to be removed bevore closing the powerbook as some others?
chris turner (ATPM Staff) · March 23, 2005 - 16:36 EST #4
Herbert, when I used the iSkin, I kept it on the keyboard all the time, and had no problems with closing the PowerBook. Just make sure you get the proper iSkin for your respective PowerBook model.
anonymous · May 20, 2005 - 18:14 EST #5
I heard that the silicon cover will rub up against the LCD screen and cause damange. Has this happened to anyone?
Matt · June 6, 2005 - 00:13 EST #6
it seems to me that this iskin blocks the cooling process..i know that he said it dosent but...i have a new 15 inch, i upgraded from a 12, and its much hotter and i am worried.
jokate · February 11, 2006 - 10:10 EST #7
yeah i am about to get one, i am interested about wether you can shut it with it on and about it heating up too much, but i presume that they would have thought of all that when they designed it.
having just had my powerbook in hospital for a few well missed weeks due to xmas baileys spillage (doh!) i am now trying decide whether to get a pink one or a orange one!!?????

Christopher Turner (ATPM Staff) · February 12, 2006 - 15:02 EST #8
You can shut the PowerBook with the iSkin on. Personally, I wouldn't run the 'Book with the iSkin on and the lid closed. I don't do this when at home, because I have my PowerBook running closed, hooked up to an external monitor and keyboard and mouse.

Pink or orange? I'd go with orange.
Joey · May 10, 2007 - 19:27 EST #9
Yes, I have the black one and it works perfectly. I was afraid when I bought it whether it would heat up, but it doesn't. Buy it today!
jeff · May 13, 2009 - 19:22 EST #10
Thomas, use soap, the glare mark is the oil buildup from your protector that gets rubbed onto the screen
greasy · August 14, 2009 - 15:34 EST #11
I have used the iskin protector for quite a while now, every now and again i wash it (like it says, with water and a bit of soap) and replace it. Recently i noticed that the keys looked like they were "sweating" underneath the iskin...i removed it, and the keys felt almost greasy...what is this? and how do i get rid of it?
Natalya Hopper · May 23, 2010 - 14:46 EST #12
I had the exact same problem with it looking like oil underneath the keyboard protector when I had never taken it off before. It felt greasy when I did take it off but I felt it was better than all of the cat hair and other gunk that would get in it if I removed the cover. I'd be interested in hearing if others have the same problem and what we should do about it!
Ronda · November 13, 2010 - 19:17 EST #13
I have the same problem. The iSkin is nearly two years old. It didn't do this for the first year. I now work as a nurse practitioner and noticed it after I started using hand sanitizer a lot while using the keyboard at work. Now it's there everytime I wash the cover. I think it is degrading. I also cut a tear in the pad over the left shift key because of the way I hold that finger. I'm ready for a new cover and I'm not sure they are still available in the simple basic colors. I can't find any explanation of what that greasy substance is caused by.
Daynos · February 23, 2011 - 03:47 EST #14
I have the same greasy key problem. In fact i took my mac in the other day for a completely different problem and the guy at the apple store had thought i had spilt something into it. its a gross oily goo.
Will · July 18, 2013 - 02:49 EST #15
I`ve got the same problem, greasy, sticky keys after a year of heavy use. Usually id clean it up with some alcohol. I guess the iSkin has to be replaced. On the other hand i do have those keyboard like marks on the screen and they dont come off with soap, alcohol or glass cleaner. any ideas?

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