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Eyes-On with HP and 3M's Built-In Privacy Screen for Laptops

LAS VEGAS - Executives who don't want others to peek at their notebook screens might want to check out the HP Elitebook 840. Available later this year, the Elitebook 840 has a built-in privacy screen — the result of a partnership between HP and 3M — which helps keep prying eyes at bay by limiting viewing angles.

At a meeting prior to CES, we had a chance to see the two companies' solution to what they call "visual hacking." On-screen was a document (several pictures of Marvel's Avengers characters in varying sizes) which we were able to see clearly until we pressed a keyboard shortcut that blacked out the screen. With just another press, the screen returned to normal.

From viewing angles roughly 45 degrees and further - like the ones you would be looking at if you were on a plane or walking past someone's laptop at a Starbucks, the screen was almost impossible to view. Almost all details were completely obscured, and the screen looked like it was off from just a few feet away. Directly in front of the screen the Avengers looked a little darker and less detailed, but we don't see this being a problem for reading or writing important documents.

Currently, those who want to keep the details of their screens from prying eyes have to buy a separate privacy screen—such as those made by 3M—which must be attached to the display all the times; HP and 3M's solution appeared to be extremely convenient in comparison.

We're looking forward to checking out the technology more closely when it debuts.

Andrew joined in 2015, reviewing computers and keeping up with the latest news. He holds a M.S. in Journalism (Digital Media) from Columbia University. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Twitter @FreedmanAE.