Skinned Alive!

With my new iPod sitting in its box, I have been pondering the best way of protecting it from being marked, scratched, covered in fingerprints, or any of the other abrasions that real life inevitably bring. With that in mind, I have decided to purchase a protective skin for it.

Skins are sold by several different companies, and range in price from $7 to $25. I also gave some consideration to this interesting idea, but decided to give it a miss when I realized that it did not protect the sides. Shame.

I finally went with Best Skins Ever (who, unfortunately, share their initials with “mad cow disease”). Why?  Partly because at $5 to $7 per skin, they are the cheapest, but mostly because they got some excellent reviews. The price was so reasonable that I purchased extra skins for my wife’s Gen-1 Nano and my Sister-in-law’s Gen-2 Nano… all for less than the price of one skin from the competition.

The whole lot arrived fairly quickly – about three working days after ordering – in a postal envelope ith their logo on the front. On a somewhat hilarious note, their website notes that some people — wives, girlfriends etc. — have been known to assume the envelope contains something salacious and throw them away (well, what would you think if you saw an envelope emblazoned with the words “Best Skins Ever”?). Thankfully, that was not a problem for me.

The skins for the 5G iPod and the Gen-1 Nano each consisted of a front piece and a back piece (the  gen-2 Nano, because of its different shape, had one piece that wrapped around). With all three skins you had the option of a three-piece front (with a piece for the click-wheel and another for the center button) or a one-piece front. I opted for the three-piece fronts, as preferred having the option of leaving the click-wheel “naked” for greater sensitivity (oo-er).

One nice thing about Best Skins Ever is that they do not charge for shipping in the US – most of the products are shipped in a standard-sized envelope – and worldwide shipping is free on orders over $20.

So what, exactly is a skin? It’s a thin film of plastic, a little thicker than cling film, that sticks to the device like… well, a second skin. Once applied, the iPod can be cased or carried as normal, except that now it is effectively scratch-proof and will not attract fingerprints.

Application is a simple matter of peeling the skin off its backing and slapping it on…


Pause and rewind; application is a time-consuming process requiring much patience, and in my case, several attempts. After peeling the skin off its backing you have to soak it in water with a little hand soap or baby shampoo, then apply the skin. You have two enemies – dust and bubbles – so this process rarely goes right first time; I had to remove, re-soak and re-apply several times before I got the desired result.

Once it is in the right place, the next stage is to squeegee out the water using a credit card or something similar. This was the nerve-wracking part for me, as I worried about water getting into the iPod’s delicate innards and causing damage, so I quickly used a tissue to absorb the water.

The final stage is perhaps the most difficult of all – leave the sucker alone while the skin cures. BSE recommends twenty-four hours, which was difficult enough for me, and must be sheer hell for a kid or a teenager with a brand-new iPod…

Any road up, the curing process is  necessary. I found that all three iPods  looked 100% better after a couple of days, and keeps improving for about a week.

The overall appearance once skinned makes your iPod look like it has been covered in cling film or very thin shrinkwrap – the pictures show the final results. I am most pleased with the Gen-1 Nano on the left. My new 80GB looks good, but has some small bubbles that would not go away, and the front piece was not properly centered. The Gen-2 nano developed some “blistering” that looked downright ugly, but even that subsided with time, though it is still apparent at the time of writing.

Those cosmetic issues aside, the skins operate as expected, including, to my surprise, the click-wheels, which actually work better when skinned than when “naked”. Not only are the covered areas are well-protected against physical abrasion and scratches, but they also do not attract fingerprints, unlike the underlying iPods, which fingerprint horribly.

An added bonus is that the skins add a slight “grippiness” to the iPod’s surface, which is a boon if you have ever had a slippery iPod drop out of your hands.

One last comment: When my first attempt ended with less-than-impressive results, I asked BSE for help; to my surprise – and their credit – BSE sent me a replacement skin, which arrived less than a week later. Much kudos to them, along with my highest recommendation.

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  • Wizard Prang  On January 9, 2009 at 11:11 AM

    Nine months on, the skins are still looking good. My iPod still looks pristine after being used while doing yard work and house-painting – stains wipe away with a damp cloth. The back is still shiny-as-new (hardly surprising considering that I did not take it out of the box until I was ready to skin it). The one caveat is that the clickwheel is not as responsive as as a “naked” iPod, though with a 3-piece skin you can leave the clickwheel “unskinned” if you wish.

    My wife’s Gen-1 Nano looks great, though the skin makes it a tight fit in her iHome iHM1B2 Portable Speaker System (a piece of tape stuck to the back of the iPod makes getting it out a lot easier)

    The Gen-2 Nano is a less-than-perfect fit – there is a 1mm gap, but it’s at the back, so it is no more than a cosmetic issue.

    My recommendation stands

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