Gelaskins Review

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!)

Pay Duty to Bring Your Own iPad to China?

I’ve learned over the years (often the hard way) that just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s true.

A friend had told me he’d read “in a paper” that a man entering China had to pay RMB1,000 as duty to bring in his own iPhone 4.  I haven’t really googled around on this but tonight did spot two stories on the MIC (Made In China) blog here and here.

The story is about a Chinese-American crossing the border at Shenzhen with his iPad (not iPhone).  And that customs told him he had to pay 20% of the value as duty or have the iPad confiscated.  According to the story, this guy had just one iPad, not a bag full of them, and that it was filled with personal photos and files that prove he’d been using it for months.

In a bid to prevent smuggling, Shenzhen authorities are imposing a tax of 1,000 yuan ($150) on several gadgets, including iPads and other microcomputers. According to Shenzhen customs officials, a traveler is allowed to bring along goods with the value not exceeding 5,000 yuan for personal use. Goods such as television, cameras, or other 20 types of electronic gadgets are not duty-free. Since iPad belongs to ‘microcomputers’, a traveler needs to pay 20% import duty for bringing along, no matter it’s used or unused. As far as we know, authorities seize an average of 10 iPads a day and, so far, 60 are suspected of being smuggled. The rest were returned after owners paid the tax.

The two stories cite three sources:  Zol, Joowii and  Apple Daily (the first two links will take you to the Chinese language pages via Google Translate, the last link is Chinese).

So the question is:  Is this for real?  Is it just one guy that this happened to?  In other words, do any of my readers have any personal experience along similar lines or have a friend IRL that this happened to?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Apple Scruffs

By that, I’m referring not to Apple computing but to Apple Records, the Beatles’ record company.  With the Beatles’ studio catalogue recently remastered and reissued in a variety of configurations and Christmas rapidly approaching, Apple is pushing out almost everything else in the vaults on October 25th.

To start with, there are remasters of the two great Beatles’ compilations:

The Beatles 1962-1966 (popularly known as The Red Album or The Beatles Red) features 26 tracks, mostly singles and covers the Beatles from their start up to Yellow Submarine.  There’s also a limited edition version of this in a box with a t-shirt.

The Beatles 1967-1970 (The Blue Album) hits all the highlights from Strawberry Fields Forever until the break-up of the group.  This is the Beatles at their most creative in my opinion, 28 tracks from after they stopped touring and starting really pushing boundaries in the studio.  Again, there’s a limited edition version with a t-shirt.

Then there’s a new boxed set:

George Harrison and Ravi Shankar – Collaborations.  This 3 CD/1 DVD set features the albums Shankar Family and Friends (1974), Music Festival From India (1976) and Chants of India (1997).  The DVD is of the previously unreleased 1974 concert film, Music Festival From India.

Now it starts to get expensive:

The Apple Records Boxed Set has 17 discs and retails for US$337.  This includes the 14 albums Apple released that weren’t by the Beatles as well as a 2 disc set of all non-Beatle Apple singles.

Available separately:

Come and Get It: The Best of Apple Records takes the two disc set from the box and boils it down to a single, 21 track CD and includes lots of non-LP singles from Hot Chocolate, Ronnie Spector and others.

Here’s a rundown of the other Apple releases, all feature bonus tracks:

Badfinger – Straight Up – remains for me one of the all time great power pop records.  I highly recommend this.

Badfinger – Magic Christian Music.  Their best known album thanks to the single Come and Get It; this is the soundtrack to The Magic Christian, a wonderful but almost-forgotten comedy film that starred Peter Sellers, Ringo Starr, Richard Attenborough, Laurence Harvey, Christopher Lee, Spike Milligan, Roman Polanski, John Cleese & Graham Chapman (pre-Monty Python, they also contributed to the screenplay), Yul Brynner (as a transvestite!) and Raquel Welch (in a very lovely outfit):

Some people prefer Badfinger’s No Dice to Straight Up; I don’t but I think it’s pretty damned good.

Badfinger’s Ass (sigh) sold about ten copies when it was first released but is quite worthwhile.

How many people remember that James Taylor’s first album came out on Apple?  This includes Carolina in My Mind.

Hard to believe now but Mary Hopkin – Postcard was a huge success.  Produced by Paul McCartney, it included the global hit single Those Were the Days.

Hopkin’s follow-up album, Earth Song, Ocean Song, didn’t fare as well.

Billy Preston – That’s the Way God Planned It.  The title song was a global hit and this first album from the ace session keyboardist was produced by George Harrison and also features Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Ginger Baker.

Preston’s follow-up album, Encouraging Words, was co-produced by Billy and George Harrison and includes two George Harrison songs, My Sweet Lord and All Things Must Pass, before Harrison released them himself.

Jackie Lomax – Is This What You Want? Back in 1968 the answer was yes, in no small part because this album features 3 Beatles, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards.

Doris Troy.  A great soul singer, here she’s backed by George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Stephen Stills, Peter Frampton and Eric Clapton.

Modern Jazz Quartet – Jasmin Tree/Space.  Do people even remember that the great MJQ released two albums on Apple?

Now we get even more esoteric:

Classical composer John Tavener.

The Radha Krsna Temple.  For this one, you’re on your own.

(But it would be good for your karma if you clicked on some of the links above!)