I came across a link somewhere at some point for Gelaskins. These are “removable covers for protecting and customizing your portable devices.” These are made from “advanced 3M adhesive contains patented micro-channels that prevent air bubbles from forming and allow for easy application and clean removal after years of use.” They make these for a variety of devices – every kind of iPod, iPhone and iPad plus laptops, eReaders and other phones.
When I looked at the web site, I didn’t expect to see any designs that I liked. I was wrong. There are over 200 choices for each device and the choices range from classical artists up through modern themes and I saw several that I wanted – including two that I liked so much that I decided to go ahead and order them. For my iPhone 4 I chose this design from Ralph Steadman:
And for my iPad I went for some H.R. Giger:
So I placed my order, standard shipping, got the notification of shipping the very next day, and then I waited. And waited. After 3 weeks I sent them an email telling them that my order hadn’t arrived. They replied the next day, telling me that they would send it out again and upgrade my shipping, all for no charge. That’s what you call customer service. A bit over a week later, both packages arrived on the same day. Being a relatively honest person, I wrote to inform them of this and they wrote back telling me to keep the second one as a gift. Yes, the cynical among you will say that it would cost them more to pay return shipping but it was still a nice gesture.
They arrived in a long white cardboard envelope that had survived the trans-Pacific journey unfolded and undented.
I was worried about how easy or difficult they might be to install. When it comes to stuff like this, I’m 10 thumbs, no fingers. There’s really nothing they can provide, you just have to do it slowly and patiently and it turns out that thumbs can do a pretty good job of it. It took me just a couple of minutes and a few tries on each to get things lined up relatively correctly. Bubbles and wrinkles smoothed out in seconds. It was much easier than I expected.
To enhance the look, they also provide free downloadable images to use as wallpapers. (That’s what you’re seeing in both images above, left-hand side.)
So, what do I think? These covers are micro-thin yet seem strong enough that they will resist average misuse. I don’t think you could tear them or scratch them unless you were really trying.
For the iPhone 4, they provide 5 pieces. A full back piece. Two small pieces that fit on the bottom-front and top-front. Two thin pieces to cover the sides. I didn’t use the side covers because I like that brushed metallic look. However, for someone who doesn’t use a case, these should be enough to provide protection against the iPhone 4′s dreaded antenna issues. I’m also really not in love with the two front pieces. Even with the wallpaper installed, they’re not floating my boat and I may eventually pull them off. I do love the rear Vintage Dr. Gonzo piece.
On the iPad, there are two pieces – a full back piece and a front piece that’s like a frame, fitting around the iPad’s screen. Because the back piece is so large, I didn’t get it lined up as exactly as I’d like, but it’s close enough. I love Giger’s artwork and am happy that among the 50 or so iPads floating around my office, mine finally has a unique look.
At US$15 for the iPhone cover and US$30 for the iPad cover, these aren’t exactly cheap. But they do scream quality. The 3M material seems strong and durable. The quality of the full-color printing is flawless. (One minor complaint – on the Giger, the color of the wallpaper and the color of the Gelaskin are not a seamless match even if the image otherwise is – the Gelaskin has a brownish tint while the wallpaper image is silver.) Shipping charges are reasonable – for the larger, iPad or laptop covers, it’s $6 for standard shipping, $20 for UPS.
I guess the only remain question is how durable these will be in daily use. I’ll find out as time goes by.
(Yes, I know, I should have had my own photos to go along with this post. The problem is that I’m not set up to photograph this kind of thing at night – clearly an on-camera flash won’t work for this kind of thing. And during the week, I’m only home at night and, well, I finally couldn’t wait for the weekend, I wanted to get them on already!)