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HP expands Sure View to make sure people can't view your screen

The built-in privacy screen jumps from laptops to monitors and desktops.

HP EliteOne 800 G5 AiO
Sarah Tew/CNET

You can expect security to be a big topic at CES 2019, with many products designed to protect networks and data. But at the individual user level, you should also be thinking about one very basic way information can be misappropriated -- your computer screen.

The low-tech hack of simply looking over someone's shoulder at an airport, coffee shop or open office makes anything you read or type on screen vulnerable. HP has a very interesting solution to visual hacking in its Sure View screen technology, which is being added to a wider range of products beyond laptops.

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Previously built into a small handful of laptops, Sure View adds a privacy filter to the display, activated by hitting a button (F2 on laptops). With the SureView feature off, it looks like a normal laptop screen (mostly). Activate the feature and the view becomes more opaque as you move farther to the side, thanks to a light-controlling film built into the screen.

We tested Sure View last year in the HP EliteBook x360 1020 and said: "There's about 70 degrees of reasonably clear viewing, after which the screen fades into white. It's certainly opaque enough, even at closer angles, to prevent a casual quick glance from stealing a password or account number."

HP EliteOne 800 G5 AiO

The EliteOne also has a privacy enhancing pop-up webcam. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Adding Sure View at CES 2019 are the HP EliteDisplay E243p, EliteOne G5 all-in-one desktop and the EliteBook x360 830 G5 2-in-1 laptop. I tried it on all three of these new systems, and it indeed faded the view from side angles, although the effect is not as pronounced as one might expect. It's effective to ward off short, sneaky glances, but don't expect it to protect nuclear launch codes. 

The EliteDisplay is a 24-inch full HD monitor with a physical Sure View button built into its frame. The EliteOne is a business-focussed all-in-one desktop with Sure View built into its 24-inch display, while the EliteBook x360 is a refresh of one of our favorite convertible business laptops (meaning it has a 350-degree hinge that can fold into a tablet shape), with Sure View for its 13-inch screen.

It's interesting to see this personal security technology move into more products, and beyond just laptops, but keep a couple of caveats in mind. When we tested the 2018 model of the EliteBook x360: "It's a very cool effect, and an effective one, as long as you keep your expectations realistic. Depending on what information you have on the screen, much of it is still readable from a closer over-the-shoulder view, and it does very little for a viewer seated directly behind you." 

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