Just over seven years ago I used to be obsessed with hacking Sony’s PSP gaming handheld and spent many hours hanging out in forums where other PSP enthusiasts were talking about everything PSP related that Sony didn’t want you to know about. Although I didn’t have the skills at the time to be one of the people on the leading edge that was looking for new ways to hack the gaming handheld, I was constantly installing custom firmware, cool homebrew apps and even fixing parts of my PSP that had broken (tip: Don’t use those aftermarket joysticks that you attach to the thumbstick because it puts too much torch on the mechanism and will break it pretty quickly and it is a real pain in the ass to fix).
While hanging out on those forums, one of the regular topics was putting custom faceplates on your PSP. At the time, there were two main manufactures of PSP faceplates which use top tools like this CNC plasma cutting table manufacturers (one better than the other although the not so great one had some cooler colors) but there was one place that everybody agreed was the best place to get them, a website called DecalGirl.com. That was my first introduction to Decal Girl and their amazing business. I ended up buying a number of PSP faceplates from them which I loved but after a couple of years I stopped messing with PSPs and kind of forgot about them.
A few years later, I found myself needing to try to disguise my MacBook Pro (long story) and that is when I remembered that their main business is skins for pretty much any kind of gadget and I decided to see if they were even still around. Of course they were and when I was browsing their site for a cool skin for my MacBook Pro, I found that they had grown significantly in terms of the number of devices the offered skins for as well as cool designs. After spending a couple of hours trying to figure out which skin design I liked best, I pulled the trigger and ordered my first skin.
I was a bit nervous about the purchase because I had tried on a number of occasions to apply screen protectors to my devices like the PSP and it has always been a miserable failure because of dust, air bubbles and other things and I was fearful that I would have that same luck again. Unfortunately, my fear was confirmed. When my skin arrived, it was slightly bent (thank you package delivery idiot) and partially due to that, I couldn’t get it on without major air bubble issues for the life of me. After screwing with it for quite a while and just making things worse, I balled the skin up and threw it away. That was when I decided to contact Decal Girl about my experience.
They immediately got back to me about my issues and sent me another skin free of charge but this time they also posted a video on YouTube to show me how to apply it so I wouldn’t have those issues. Apparently I was the only idiot at the time to have such an issue so the how-to video was shot just for me which made me feel special. A couple of days later my new skin arrived and with the help of the instructional video, I got the skin on with no problems this time. I was once again an extremely happy customer!
Fast forward to a couple of months ago (I am a about 2 months late in getting this posted), Decal Girl contacted me about reviewing some skins on Global Geek News and I jumped at the opportunity as I had a number of naked gadgets. They ended up sending me a number of skins to try out including ones for my MacBook Pro (the one I have been using for the past 2 years has held up great but after food spills and stuff on it, isn’t looking its best anymore), my PlayStation Vita, my iPad 2 and my Kindle Paperwhite (can you tell I love technology?).
Below are my thoughts and pictures of each skin both before I put them on and after. Apologies for the less than stellar picture quality as the lighting was not ideal and the pictures were taken with my iPad 2 camera.
The shipment came in a large cardboard document envelop (I guess that is what you would call it) with a stiff piece of cardboard inside to prevent the previously mentioned package delivery idiot from damaging them. Each skin was then put in its own plastic protective sleeves which came with the skin and application instructions. Very well done.
The Kindle Paperwhite Skin:
The skin I choose for my beloved Kindle Paperwhite was called Cloud Temple which has an Asian style temple sitting on a cliff overlooking a canyon. Upon taking the skin out of the package I noticed it had a matte finish which was quite nice and on the e-reader wasn’t so bright as to distract from the reading experience despite its cool look. Of course the whole design is on the back of the Kindle while the front has the design simply covering the edge of the Kindle. Applying it was pretty simple although working with the front piece was a bit tricky because I was terrified I would accidentally rip it or not get it centered properly to look nice. However, even though the skin is extremely thin and feels a bit like it would rip easily, it is tough enough that it went on just fine after a couple of attempts to get it centered perfectly. The result looks quite nice and the added thickness on the back didn’t have any effect on the already insanely tight Kindle Paperwhite case which is a huge plus.
The iPad 2 Skin:
My experience with the iPad 2 skin which was a design called Black Hole (I am a bit of a space nut and this one was glossy rather than matte for those keeping track) was very similar to that of the Kindle Paperwhite except due to its larger size, I was even more terrified of ripping the front side of it than I was the Kindle skin. Of course it ended up holding together just fine although with the iPad 2 being a larger device, it make it a bit more difficult to get the skin on straight. That wasn’t a big deal on the back but lining it up just right with the screen took some work and I still couldn’t get the bottom of the skin to line up just right. It was not a problem of the skin so much as my fat hands. However, the one thing I did notice about the iPad skin is that it it really changes how the device feels in your hand. What I mean by that is that while the skin is extremely thin, the edge is very noticeable on the touch part of the screen and especially on the back of the device. I find it to be a little annoying/distracting but not enough that it has made me want to take the skin off. I guess I have just gotten use to it. Of course since I keep my Kindle in a case I don’t really notice the issue with it although it is still noticeable on the back side if you don’t. However, one big positive is that even with the glossy finish, it feels like it gives the iPad a little more grip so it doesn’t feel like it is going to slip out of your hand as easy as a naked iPad does. Overall, it is quite nice if you have a steady hand to apply it and don’t mind the little edge you end up with because of it.
The PlayStation Vita skin:
The PlayStation Vita skin that I chose was the AC3 Collage considering I am a huge Assassin’s Creed fan. Like the skin for the Kindle, it has a matte finish which looks quite nice on the Vita. Unfortunately, unlike the other skins, the Vita skin is an enormous pain in the butt to apply. Unlike the previously mentioned skins which had one piece for the front and a second to cover the back, the Vita version is far more complicated. There is the large piece that covers most of the front which wasn’t too bad although I had to punch out holes for the speakers myself as they were still slightly attached to the skin when I peeled it off of the paper it came on. The real pain started when I tried to apply the part of the skin around the buttons and thumbsticks. The pieces are extremely thin rings and getting them in place and looking right was not easy. I am still not exactly happy with how they are on there but it was the best I could do.
As far as the backside of the Vita goes, the skin comes in a bunch of pieces due to the shape and features of the handheld. The time and effort required to apply them all felt like it wasn’t worth it. The result looks good, its just it was a pain dealing with all of those tiny sections.
The end result looks nice and certainly gets the attention of gamers when they see it although the matte finish makes it feel cheaper in my opinion. Overall, I would say if there is a design for the Vita you really like and you don’t mind some tedious work to get the design on there, go for it, otherwise I would avoid it. One other thing to mention is that I was warned that removing the skin on the Vita could leave residue behind on the device unless you use some heat from something like a hair dryer on it for 10-15 seconds before attempting to remove it. One last thing to note is that even though you are covering the rear touchpad with the skin, it doesn’t hurt its functionality at all.
The MacBook Pro skin:
Finally, the skin for the MacBook Pro was the design called Harbinger. I decided on that design because it was very similar in color and setting to the skin I have been using the past couple of years that I am constantly being complemented on but instead of a giant ringed planet, it has what looks like the aurora borealis.
Before I could install the new skin, I had to remove the old one. The first thing I noticed was just how hard it was to get off. I suspect using some heat would have made it easier but I didn’t have any at the time. However, for as easy as they are to kind get off and put back on again when you are putting it on to make sure you have the design on right, trying to take one off after 2 years is not easy. It took about 15 minutes and all of the strength my arms could muster to remove the old skin’s death grip from my MBP. For as hard as it was to get off, it is nice to know that it has enough of a grip that it isn’t going to just peel off on its own. I was really impressed that for as tight of a grip as it had on my MacBook Pro, there was no sticky residue left behind. Unfortunately, due to the amount of force that I had to use to get it off, by the time it was off, it was so crumpled up that there was no way I could put it back on again if I wanted to. But since I had a new one, that wasn’t a real concern for me.
After the old one was removed, I recalled how to install the skin from the video a couple of years ago and a couple of minutes later, I had the new skin applied and looking great.
One thing to note about all of the skins is that when there is a curved surface involved such as the lid of the MacBook Pro or the back edges of the iPad 2, there is going to be a gap around the edge where the device is still going to be visible because otherwise trying to put a flat skin on a curved surface isn’t going to end up turning out very well because you are going to have bunched up corners. Just something to keep in mind!
While I love the original looks of my MacBook Pro or just about any of my gadgets, there is a lot to be said for having a skin on them to give them a more personalized look and feel. You would be amazed at how many people will comment on them!
In conclusion, if you are looking to give you laptop or other gadgets a unique look that will make you the envy of all of your friends, there is no better place to get skins than from Decal Girl. They offer a fantastic product with more designs and supported gadgets than you could ever dream of and they have perhaps the best support I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. You can’t go wrong in buying a skin from them (although I might advise avoiding putting a skin on your Vita just because I think it is more effort than it is worth for a lot of people) so if you want to make your gadgets look really cool, buy from them with confidence!