I got me one of them shiny new black iPods a couple weeks back. It’s real purty. While the black is very nice looking, it’s also going to scratch if you breath on it with anything less than freshly brushed teeth. I’m not much for the cases – I don’t like hiding my iPod, but I DO want to protect it. So I set out to find some skins to properly protect my new toy.
DecalGirl and The Invisible Shield hooked me up with a couple to try out. I went through the installations of both, and tried each out for a few days to see how it protected my iPod from daily use. It’s been widely established that these new iPods scratch far too easily, so while I take good care of my things, having these protective skins was a great help.
I got the IPV9000 skin from DecalGirl. It’s pretty cool – looks like H.A.L. from 2001:A Space Odyssey. There’s a front and a back, but the sides are left bare. Not a huge problem unless you’re anal retentive about that kind of thing. The disappointing part that I didn’t realize until I got the Decal in the mail, was that there’s no screen protection. That’s the most important part to me – especially now that I’ll be watching video on it. Otherwise, the Decal looks sweet – I really like the H.A.L. look. I would have left the button labels off though, to preserve the coolness.
Installation was pretty easy. The non-gummy adhesive is a great feature when adjusting for that perfect placement. But don’t stick the thing down all the way, as it doesn’t remove from the iPod so gracefully. I found that the best way to place it was to line up the BOTTOM edge, and lay it down slowly. That way you eliminate bubbles, and get the edges lined up just about right the first time.
Protection wise, the DecalGirl skin did a pretty good job. Actually, in the areas it covers, it does a great job – but I only give it a ‘pretty good’ because of the lack of screen protection. It’s possible to put a stand-alone screen protector under the Decal, or possibly wrap a clear skin over the Decal if that’s what you want, but by itself, it was left slightly wanting.
The Invisible Shield is apparently a solution by the US Army for protecting Helicopter Blades from the elements. It’s tough stuff. Watch the video to see them trying to puncture the skin with a pen – they’re not successful. Let me tell you now – BELIEVE THE HYPE. The Invisible Shield is just that, invisible. If you apply it well, you’ll barely know it’s there, except for that your iPod is basically invincible to scratches.
You should know first off, that The Invisible Shield installation is not simple if you’re a perfectionist. It takes a little while to get it on right, and looking good. So be prepared to spend up to 30 minutes. There are instructions on their website for installing it, and they link to a tutorial that includes pictures to appease those desiring visuals. TIP: Apply the back first, to get an idea for how it goes on, that way if you smudge it up some, you can try to do it better on the front.
You’ll be lightly applying soapy water to the film, and then putting that wet film on your iPod…But don’t worry, you’ll squeegee the moisture out and it doesn’t harm your iPod at all. (Though you may want to tape over your ports temporarily.) I would suggest being somewhat liberal with the amount of water you use, as it gets difficult to adjust the Shield as it dries. You can still remove it after it dries, but you may notice smallish stretch marks in the skin when all is said and done.
The one thing I was displeased about is the way the click wheel and center button are scored-out of the front skin. It goes on as one piece, but if you need to re-adjust in that area, it’ll become 3 pieces really fast.
Once finished, it’ll take a good couple of days before the entire thing cures completely. Each day following installation, my Invisible Shield looked better and better, despite the small spots and ‘smudges’ (see pictures) I thought I’d just have to come to terms with – they all went away!
Protection is what the Invisible Shield is all about. It covers the sides, top, bottom, front, and back. There’s just a couple minimal spaces around the ports that are left bare, but you’d need a razor blade to mar them at this point. I even got up the guts to slash at my newly protected iPod (granted, only the back, I’m not crazy enough to go at the screen!) with my keys. There’s NOTHING on the skin itself! It doesn’t scratch, the iPod doesn’t scratch beneath it. It’s perfect. I really could go after my screen if I wanted to, but that’s just not going to happen.
While I liked the DecalGirl skin (the black decal on the back looked pretty awesome, and I would have left it on if not for the IPV9000 graphic), I couldn’t get past the lack of screen protection and the labels on the buttons. (There’s only 5 possible buttons, I KNOW where they are…) Since I got my skins to review, DecalGirl has come out with a new product – the Crystal Shield – that offers FULL front and back protection, and is [obviously] clear. They’re selling for $3.99
The Invisible Shield is all it claims to be. You can’t tell it’s there, and it will absolutely protect your iPod from anything that could possibly happen to it (ok, not ANYTHING, but you know what I mean). You can check out all my pictures of the 2 skins below.
DecalGirl skins run about $6.99 while The Invisible Shield runs $24.95.
If you’ve tried other protective skin options – especially the new DecalGirl Crystal Shield – let us know your experiences.