Review: GelaSkins iPod Covers

Artful vinyl covers make a statement with your iPod. (January 4th, 2007)

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Product Manufacturer: GelaSkins Inc.

Price: $14.95

The Good

  • Gorgeous and varied artwork. Comes with screen cover. Textured vinyl makes iPod easier to grip.

The Bad

  • Does not cover entire iPod. Hard to align. Screen cover doesn't cover entire screen without a gap.

iPod skins are a growing cottage industry of iPod protectors that are not cases, but covers that stick directly to the outside of the iPod. The GelaSkins company certainly is not a pioneer in the field, but their product is durable, well-made and comes with some of the most unique art you’ll find anywhere, terrific for customizing your iPod as a unique work of art.

Sticky wicket

GelaSkins are made of textured vinyl imprinted with one of dozens of unique, colorful works of art that really complement the iPod video or iPod nano. Skins for the iPod mini and fourth-generation iPods may still be available as you read this. The skin ships on a flat piece of cardboard; the back of the skin is layered with a thin adhesive made by 3M that the company says will not leave any residue when removed.

A GelaSkin comes in four pieces: An outline piece that covers most of the front, two inserts for the click wheel (one that circles the wheel and one that covers the button), and a back panel. GelaSkins also kindly provides a GelaScreen, which is a clear screen cover that protects the iPod’s display.

Tricky installation

Applying a GelaSkin is a bit tricky, because the design is continuous, even though the click wheel and button covers are cut out from the vinyl. As a result, you have to apply each piece separately, which means lining up the design so that it is continuous. There is a very small gap between the front cover and the click wheel cover, which, depending on the design can help offset any crookedness, but you do not get the same margin of error with the button cover.

The back cover does not wrap around the sides, as some other press-on iPod covers do, so the GelaSkin offers no protection from scratches on the sides, top or bottom of the iPod. The fourth-gen iPod covers do wrap around though. The fifth-generation iPod has a very different case design from the previous model, so this omission is understandable, even if it leaves the iPod a bit exposed.

Be careful to apply the GelaScreen after you apply the GelaSkin, by the way. It is cut to fit the iPod’s screen, but it does not cover the entire screen. When you apply it after you put on the skin, you can make sure the GelaScreen is centered and looks right, otherwise you might be left with a little bit of a gap on one side, as I was.

Artist flair

What attracted me to GelaSkins is the depth and breadth of gorgeous art that is used on the covers. Everything from classic Van Gogh paintings to anime-inspired artwork, Nintendo’s Mario and Luigi, fantasy and surrealist art, graffiti-inspired work, Ralph Steadman’s Dr. Gonzo art (perfect for listening to Hunter S. Thompson’s audio books), and much, much more. It’s a rich, visual feast, and choosing just one is really hard. Good thing, then, that GelaSkins offers a "buy 3, get one free" deal.

Thin and unobtrusive

While the artwork instantly draws people’s eyes to your iPod, the great thing about GelaSkins is that they are thin and out of the way. This comes in particularly handy compared to many bulky iPod covers if you use devices or accessories that would otherwise be blocked by a case. A good many of the dock connector-equipped iPod accessories out there, such as the FM radio transmitter-cum cigarette lighter battery charger I use in my own vehicle, do not work with iPod cases. GelaSkins only add a fraction of a millimeter to the overall depth of the iPod; therefore, it's not an issue.

What’s more, the GelaSkin vinyl is manufactured with a diamond crosshatch pattern on it, which gives you a little bit of surface grip. In fact, I found it easier to handle the iPod after I applied the GelaSkin.

All told, the GelaSkin is a high-quality iPod accessory with a few shortcomings that are easy to overlook. You only need a steady hand and ability to overlook the lack of side protection.

I only wish I’d found out about GelaSkins a bit earlier. My 5G iPod is about a year old and in that time, it has amassed quite a few scratches and blemishes, even though I've been careful to leave it in a case most of the time. If I had found GelaSkins before, it might still be pristine, plus I would have had some fine art to look at, to boot.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Lee P. Meredith


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