A little iPod privacy, please!

On a crowded New York subway, you're packed in so tight, there's no escaping your fate. If you're lucky, the person in front of you will be reading something in a language you can understand. Or viewing something you can comfortably look at--if you're not a pain in the neck about it.

That's how, one morning this week, I happened to watch a documentary about the building of Panama's shipping locks, on a video iPod held by a stranger--attorney Tanya Bosi. She didn't seem to mind questions from a curious blogger wedged within viewing range of the tiny screen, but she imagined other people might get a little touchy, depending on what they were watching.

Online, you'll find a couple of options to protect your viewing sanctity. StrapYa.com offers a plastic screen for $6.95 that clings to the video iPod and is supposed to prevent onlookers from angling for a view. The Web site also suggests cutting the plastic down to fit other iPod models.

iPod privacy filter
Credit: Digital Cowboy
Digital Cowboy of Japan makes
this iPod privacy filter.

A number of bloggers have also raved about an iPod privacy filter from Japan's Digital Cowboy. It's also supposed to keep people from knowing about your secret love of '80s music videos, and comes with a RGB adapter to let you pipe your vintage MTV collection to a car monitor or television at home. It costs just under $13 at the Digital Cowboy Web site.

The Internet is full of resourceful people who suggest all you need to do is chop a piece off an existing privacy screen made for a PC or laptop, as one guy said his friend did to a privacy filter he bought for a buck at a government surplus auction. It could be a pricey experiment, though, if you buy a new privacy screen to cut down. Kensington makes them ranging in size from 15 inches to 19 inches and priced from $137.99 to $266.99 on the companyÂ’s site. Or try Powermax, which sells them for less--between $89.88 and $133.88.

3M also makes a host of privacy filters for computers, and a Froogle search turns up prices between $41.99 to $360, depending on the monitor's size.

I contacted 3M, which makes more than 55,000 products, to see if it has anything in the works for a video iPod privacy screen. Its PR firm, Hunter Public Relations, got back to me and said 3M is developing privacy filters for these types of products and will be happy to reveal more when the launch gets closer.

3M does caution that its filters are tough to cut, and people who have tried end up with "jagged edges" after the multiple layers of film come unglued.

As for iPod user Bosi, she told me she won't be buying a privacy filter, saying she's comfortable with other subway travelers checking out the documentaries she downloads on the shipping locks of Panama.


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