Originally posted by sunilramantotally. all you l33t muthas (this means you franksargent) that are material scientists, let's get a scien-ta-ti-fic characterisation of the problem here rather than endless conjecture
I'll try. I did buy one yesterday, (BTW it wasn't $50 off MSRP, it was $50 off of their $50 markup, (i. e. it was MSRP afterall)) so now I have some first hand appreciation for the proported scratching complaints. My first observations of the Nano are that the backlit screen and contrast of the character display, makes it very hard for me to believe ANYONE would have trouble reading the display under almost any condition (of course if your outside (as I was today) in bright sunlight even a NEW Nano is difficult to read), short of taking a piece of SANDPAPER and doing SERIOUS damage to the screen (i. e. sorry, NOT going to happen). My second impression is this thing IS tiny, by that I mean specifically the screen, what's the pixel count on this sucker (and PPI for that matter)? I mean really, I'd like to look at photos on a larger display than this (regardless of condition), I won't be using this as a photo iPod, that's for sure. My third impression is this is one KICKASS portable music player (someday soon the word iPod will be in Webster's Dictionary)!
I also did some quick and dirty (QAD) tests on portable devices; 2 TFT screens (I think they were TFT, I haven't really kept up with display technologies, as you may have guessed by now) and 4 LCD screens while there (on an 2G iPod mini, a 5G (video) iPod, an HP LCD portable device, and another manufacturer's LCD portable device (name escapes me)). As VL-Tone has pointed out, LCD screens have a couple of glass layers, this tends to make them relatively very stiff (or hard), maybe I should have known this as I have a 21" LCD monitor (with the polycarbonate coating the hardness (I'm guessing) probably exceeds 80 on the Shore D scale for these small displays). Conversely the TFT screens are relatively soft (i. e. no glass) with perhaps an equivalent hardness of 50 on the Shore A scale (it's definitely a few orders of magnitude softer than the LCD screens, at least the one's I sampled). I have 7 (polyurethane) samples that cover this range of hardnesses, but again I'm doing a touch test, no testing instruments were used here. So what did I do, I took a worn penny (relatively dull edge), placed it on its flat side, at an ~1:1 slope, applied moderate force (say 10 lbs, was the same force applied to each screen (all I can say is that I tried)), and dragged it an inch or so across each screen. NOT very scientific, but what the heck, its better than nothing. Anyway the test results are in; The HP and other manufacturer's LCD pretty much passed the penny test (I wiped the smudge marks off with my thumb), on the TFT's, because their so soft, you really can't get a "bite" into them so no marking occured, however on the iPods, I couldn't wipe the smudge marks off with my thumb (believe me I tried). BTW, I was in stealth mode in the store so no one saw me do the "tests." Remarks; remember this IS NOT a rigorous quantitative methodology, at best it is somewhat qualitative (i. e. QAD), also the force applied is over a finite surface area (sharp objects (smaller areas (i. e. grit)) would need less force for an equivalent applied pressure force)
Lessons learned: The obvious, take care of your Nano, cover it with something, ANYTHING, stick it in a CLEAN pocket (no keys, no coins, no grit, etcetera), preferably a shirt pocket, gosh this thing is TINY and THIN, use your head, when you sit down with this thing in your pants pocket, you're appling all kinds of forces to this device (unless your wearing hip-hop prison pants, of course). As far as I'm concerned, I'm going for the one cent solution, it came with a clear piece of plastic tape for shipping purposes (which I left over the screen area), I plan to get some clear plastic packing tape, and apply as necessary, thus eliminating scratches to the screen itself (BTW, you have to look carefully to even notice the clear tape, IMHO). Eventually I'll get some form of case/cover/skin/tube (whatever).
EDIT - I just wanted to add that what CosmoNut saw was similar to what I saw after the scratch "tests." I actually didn't read his entire message before I posted this reply. In fact the penny tests produced an ~3/16" wide discoloration (I still like the word smudge though, it more accurately describes what I saw) which was easily seen with the iPods OFF, I don't know how easy I would have been able to see the smudge marks with the iPods on WITH the backlit screen. Also, I mentioned how difficult it was to see the display (even backlit) in direct sunlight, but even outside, in the shade (given it was sunny), I found it diffucult to read the display WHILE backlit. My feeling is that the ambient lighting, as well as whether the screen is backlit, both play important roles in people's preceptions WRT scratches/smudges. If what CosmoNut is saying is true, actually breaking through the protective coating (or even intact but delaminated), this would be a serious problem, and easily seeable.