capsule review

iStyles iPod Skins

At a Glance
  • iStyles iPod Skins

There are millions upon millions of iPods out there. So how do you make sure yours still stands out? iStyles's iPod Skins are one option. Made of adhesive-backed cast vinyl, you apply them to the front and back of your iPod, where they adorn your music player with one of any number of interesting designs. I checked out skins for the first generation nano and the 5th generation iPod with video, but iStyles also makes Skins that fit first-generation shuffles and nanos, iPod minis, and fourth-generation full size iPods.

Each nano and full-size Skin is composed of four parts: a front piece with an opening for your iPod's screen, a back piece, a circular covering for the iPod's Click Wheel, and a separate round piece that covers the Center button. You apply each piece separately -- lining them up can be tricky for the less-coordinated among us. Fortunately, the adhesive backing allows you to easily to peel the pieces off and reapply them should you put them on crookedly. (At least initially -- see below.)

Although the nano Skin fit well, I had trouble with the 5G version. The back of the larger iPod is slightly curved, and the size of the back piece of the Skin is larger than the back of the iPod, meaning that it has to adhere to the curves. For the most part, this works fine, but the corners, at which the curves of two sides intersect, proved problematic. The Skins otherwise worked as advertised.

I left the Skins on both iPods overnight and then tried to remove them the next day. At that point, I found that they had apparently bonded to the iPods' exteriors, making them much more difficult to remove. (Due to my rather short fingernails, I had to use a knife to get the round Skin piece off of the 5G's Center button.) I also found that, despite iStyles's claims of easy removability, a slight amount of tacky residue remained on the fronts and backs of both iPods. Buffing with a soft cloth seemed to remove it, but I also noticed with interest that the adhesive back on the rear piece of each Skin had "peeled off" a mirror image of the Apple logo and the writing on the back of each iPod (kind of like Silly Putty does to newsprint). This didn't appear to have damaged the backs of the iPods, but it was worth noting.

Adhesive skins like these provide little in the way of protection, other than from incidental surface scratching, and they don't protect the screen at all. Still, minor-scratch-protection is all some people are looking for, and they're thin enough that you may even be able to use them in conjunction with another case for greater protection. They're mainly a way to give your iPod a new look.
--Dan Moren

At a Glance
  • iStyles iPod Skins

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