Notebook keyboard protectors

When I , one of the accessories I recommended was a keyboard cover or "skin." These thin, silicone (or similar material) covers are generally custom-fit for each laptop and prevent nasty stuff--dust, crumbs, hair, liquids, you name it--from getting into the guts of your keyboard. Although covers are also available for desktop keyboards, they're especially useful for notebooks, given that anything that falls between your keys ends up inside the computer itself. (Plus, with a laptop you can't just .) As an added bonus, these covers often make typing quieter, which helps ensure domestic tranquility if you tend to be up at night, typing in bed, while your better half is trying to get some shuteye. Finally, keyboard covers can be hand-washed with water and mild soap; after letting them air-dry, they're as good as new.

(I should also point out that if your keyboard has seen so much use that its key labels have worn off, a keyboard skin is also a relatively inexpensive way to figure out which key is which.)

But not all keyboard covers are equal. Over the past few months, I've been taking a few for extended spins on several different laptops. It turns out that despite their apparent similarities, keyboard covers actually differ in a number of ways, including appearance, fit, and the feel of the material itself.

(Note that because Apple has recently settled on a standardized keyboard design for all its products, a keyboard cover designed for Apple's current MacBook line should fit the MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro, as well as Apple's keypad-less Wired and Wireless Keyboards.)

iSkin ProTouch FX Keyboard Protector

iSkin's US$35 is unique in that the company has treated the keyboard skin with an anti-bacterial agent; iSkin claims this "inhibit[s] the growth of odor and stain causing bacteria." In addition, rather than using a clear design, all ProTouch FX models are made of semi-transparent silicone with solid-black keytops and white key labels; you can choose between clear, blue, or pink for the silicone color. These black-and-white keytops make the keys easy to read, but they have one major drawback: If your Mac notebook has a backlit keyboard, the ProTouch FX blocks this light completely. (Although there's at least a tiny window that allows you to see the capslock-indicator light.)