Review: GelaSkins for iPad

Short Version:

GelaSkins for iPad do everything they promise, and they do it well. For 30 bucks a pop, it’ll wrap your iPad up in a work of art — be it one of GelaSkin’s roughly 200 pre-designed pieces, or one of your own. It also does a fine job of protecting the back of the iPad from whatever grit and grime might be sitting between it and your desk.

Long Version:

I’ve got a problem. You see, I love to customize my stuff. I paint it. I shoot at it with lasers. I put stickers all over it. If something I own looks the same as one you could pick up at the store, it’s because I just bought it that day.

My problem: I get tired of customizations fast. As soon as the paint dries, I’m mad at myself for painting it pink instead of black. As soon as the lasers taper off, I’m wondering why the hell I just etched an obese cat riding a unicorn onto my $500 device. As soon as I work all the bubbles out from beneath a sticker, I’m trying to figure out how the hell I’m going to get rid of all the sticky residue once I peel it off.

Enter GelaSkins. These things are essentially big ol’ high-quality stickers, printed on a material that, through what I can only assume is the devil’s work, leaves no residue when peeled away.

GelaSkin’s got a catalog of around 200 pieces, ranging from the emo chicks to emo robots. If none of their offerings pop your kernel, they’ll also print up your own design at no extra cost. I went with Nanami Cowdroy’s Ink Pond.

This thing goes on like lotion, and comes off like a prom dress. I’ve put a whole lot of these sorts of things (mainly screen protectors) on devices. It’s generally an absurdly frustrating process; getting them to go on is one thing – but getting them to go on without looking like bubble-filled crap? That’s almost always a whole different story – but not with these.

GelaSkins have an odd grid of squares etched lightly into the back of the material — and whatever this does makes the entire application experience a breeze.

Peeling it off is even easier. It comes up without a struggle when you slip a fingernail underneath, but I’ve yet to see any stray, unwanted peeling after slipping it in and out of my bag a ton. (For reference, I’ve had another GelaSkin on my MacBook Pro for around 4 months now. No peeling there, either). I’ve applied and removed this skin a few times now, and it seems like it would maintain its stick for at least a dozen applications if you bought more than one and wanted to rotate.

The skin comes in two pieces: front and back. I probably won’t use the front piece after this review — there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, I just like the way the front of the iPad looks originally. For people who stick with this front sheet, GelaSkins provides an iPhone OS app with matching lockscreen/homescreen wallpapers to give it a really slick, unified look. As of the time of publishing, however, this app hasn’t been updated for the iPad – while you can use the iPhone version in the mean time, the images won’t be as high resolution as you might hope. Even the “full size” images on the Gelaskins site aren’t quite big enough.

The back piece.. that, I’ll be keeping on. It’s glorious. The art is wonderfully detailed, and the material wraps the back of my iPad from edge to edge.

It also provides just a liiiittle bit of protection without bulking things up. Will it protect it against 5 foot falls or douchebags with baseball bats? Of course not. But it will protect it from a much sneakier, much more nefarious villain: all the grit and grime sitting on coffee tables and office desks everywhere. The aluminum back of the iPad is surprisingly weak against these itty-bitty monsters, resulting in equally itty-bitty scratches all over your new toy. These do a pretty good job of keeping things in like-new condition without requiring a big, bulky case.

Product page: GelaSkins iPad collection

The Goods:

  • Fantastic artwork, with great quality printing
  • Easy to put on, easier to take off.
  • It really doesn’t leave any residue

The Bads:

  • The wallpaper’s Gelaskins provides — or the ones I checked, at least) aren’t up to the iPad resolution yet. You can still use them, they just won’t look as nice as they should.

The Neutral Stuff:

  • No screen protection. The iPad’s screen is glass, so it’s not really necessary at all – but seeing how many people I see each day walking around with screen protector’s on their iPhones, it’s probably worth noting.