Your iPods, cell phones and other portable electronics love you as much as you love them. They only want to make sure that you are happy, but their devotion to your entertainment comes at a heavy cost. At every turn, they are surrounded by terrors – sharp keys, greasy fingers, shallow puddles and much more – that we take for granted, and yet each could be deadly to your portable pals.

Fortunately, as a good gadget owner, you realize that such loyalty should be rewarded with kindness and concern. While you may not be able to take the dangers out of your accessories’ lives, you can do your best to help them defend themselves. Sure, there are many pouches, belt clips and other sleeves that do help keep your electronics a bit safer, but many of them are either too flimsy to fully protect your gadgets from daily scrapes and bashes or they add far more bulk than actual protection.

Perhaps the best alternative on the market for people who want the protection without the bulk comes in the form of a thin yet incredibly strong transparent plastic film. While there are many transparent films out there, the two most notable names are the Zagg invisibleSHIELD (zagg.com) and the BodyGuardz (bodyguardz.com).

These invisible stickers may look like something you’d get out of a capsule in a gumball machine, but they are more than just kid’s stuff. Their super-thin plastic makes them almost unnoticeable – both by sight and in touch-screen sensitivity – yet they are resilient enough that you can purposely scratch them up with a key, secure in the knowledge that the scratches will fade away within seconds.

Ultimately, the invisibleSHIELD and BodyGuardz are both superior products, but it is a bit hard deciding which one is better. Both do a good job covering the electronics without interfering with any of the functionality, and thanks to the extremely sticky film, neither will be giving up on protecting your gadgets any time soon.

The only real difference between the two is that the invisibleSHIELD comes with more extensive instructions on how to apply your new plastic force field while the BodyGuardz gives you a spare in case you mess up. Either way, both come with a safe, handy application solution to help even the least arts-and-crafts minded of us fix their mistakes before the plastic film becomes an abstract art piece.

For those who really need the top of the line protection for their gadgets regardless of the bulk, the OtterBox Armor Series (otterbox.com) line of cases is nothing short of armored tanks for your electronics. These thick plastic cases may be a bit heavy and they will definitely fill up a pocket if you choose not to use the belt clip, but the added girth is pure muscle. Beyond shielding the surface from anything short of a drill, the Armor Series boasts a tight seal that keeps out dirt and actually makes your iPod waterproof up to three feet.

Best of all, the Armor series still allows you to use your gadget even though it is sealed away in a protective plastic box. The plastic over the faceplate for touch screen models is thick enough to be protective and yet still thin enough to only slightly affect touch screen functionality.

You can also use your headphones without fear of water thanks to the unique design that separates the audio input from your device. Granted, this does remove the speaker function from devices like the iPod Touch 2G while it is plugged in, but the protection is well worth it.