By: Jonathan Kwan
February 10, 2007
Over time, I personally found it quite ironic how people use different methods for portable electronic protection. Some designer cases such as Vaja's line of leather implementations will appeal to some people, but think about it: although your device will never get scratched, you'll never get to see the real look of it throughout its lifetime. No matter how small and thin the unit is, utilizing a skin or case will really add to the bulk. Is there anything that is both cost-effective and permits the true look of your electronics to show while offering full protection? Today we'll be introducing a product that will do both -- and possibly more.
Our review unit came in a slim envelope using USPS Global Priority Mail from Best Skins Ever's office in the United States. Inside is a second envelope containing today's unit for review.
They were nice enough to provide us three complete sets of the Creative Zen Vision:M Total Body Skin for use with our review today. Also included as standard on all shipments is an installation guide; which is also available on their site. A single set of Creative Zen Vision:M Full Body Shield is only $7.95; just add a couple bucks for shipping. It's priced extremely aggressively.
There are different pre-cut shields available from most popular digital audio players such as Apple's iPod and various portable electronics available at the manufacturer's site. A do-it-yourself kit is also available for purchase.
You'll have to create your own application solution for use with application use. All you need is a measuring cup, a bit of mild soap or baby shampoo, water, and a credit or debit card to smooth out the bubbles, and don't forget a container to hold the water. The instructions told us to make a lot of solution -- you'll probably need around a tenth of that for this project.
Application is not entirely easy, but it's not entirely hard either. It takes a bit of time and practice to get used to the application method.
Firstly, you place one side of the shield into the application liquid and tilt it on the side to let the excessive solution drip off. Make sure you don't get fingerprints and dust on the sticking side as it will show up.
The recommendation is to apply screen protection first so it gets protected after you turn your device facing down. Personally, I think it has its advantage and disadvantages. If you are extremely confident, sure, you can take this step first -- but I would recommend you to do the back first to figure out how to put it on first as any small mistake would show very obviously on your screen later on.
After placing on the device and some excessive wipes with my debit card, everything appears to be smoothed out, bubble and dust-free on various areas. You can still slide it slightly across the surface upon initial touch to center it and relocate it appropriately. The edges will not stick initially, but it will work around half an hour later with around 20 seconds of applied force.
In our case with the Zen Vision:M, owners will know how the back has a ripple shape. It is very hard to make it completely stick with no air/water bubbles at all; however I can assure you that one or two small bubbles is perfectly OK -- it will diffuse through the shield in a couple weeks for perfect contact.
The whole application process requires some time to get used to, lots of patience and careful work. It will take around half an hour for a first time user, but I am sure after that it will be much faster for future devices.
The result. Now on photo, it appears really flawless. However, there are a few things to make note of is that it is almost impossible to make it dust or visible particle free between your shield and the device. I've applied my screen shield twice (Good thing I got three sets) and it was better the second time, but it's not perfect and such imperfections will only appear a few hours later. It could be dependent on your solution and how skilled you are though.
Also, the material is not completely invisible -- you can clearly see the texture at various angles. It will not blur the screen and shouldn't affect viewing pleasure with the exception of a few visible particles behind the shield and in front of the screen. Dust may connect around the edges of the shield, and I must note that the shield itself is quite fingerprint mark prone. However, none of these are extremely excessive and the fingerprint mark issue is probably no worse than the device itself without the skin. Therefore, it's all good.
How scratch proof is the material? As far as I know, the other COMPANY that markets the same kind of shield but for three times the price says it's not scratchable. While Best Skins Ever does not claim so, the clear protection film material is... well, I've recorded a video for you, you can download it after you read what we have to say...
... is that it is almost unscratchable. What I mean is that it is completely scratch resistant to most things, such as coins (Including hard rubs over the surface), majority of keys with moderately strong applied scratching attempts, finger nails, and all the fun things. What scratches the Best Skins Ever protection includes boxcutter blades, very sharp keys edges with moderately strong applied force, scissor blade tip with moderately strong applied scratching force, and... well, that's all we used that worked. It will not wreck the protector though; but the scratch marks can be seen at an angle.
Still, that's very good and unless the Best Skins Ever shield does not protect the area, I can assure you that you can now keep your protected electronics "bare" with keys and coins in the same pocket. It will not scratch up the Best Skins Ever shield, so it also means your device will remain unaffected.
In general, Best Skins Ever shields will protect your portable electronics against pretty much all forms of scratches, but it will not make it invincible (So don't try throwing your iPods, it will still break).
How here's the video for you. I was using my left hand to hold the camera and right hand to use the dollar coin (Yes, it's Canadian) to "scratch" my white Creative Zen Vision:M:
Well, this is a relatively short review so there's nothing much to summarize! So in conclusion, it is worth the time to apply the Best Skins Ever shield to your portable electronics. It's very, very low priced, retains the good looks of your device without adding virtually any bulk, and it's (almost) entirely scratch proof. However, application result may not be that perfect and you will still see the skin on at both the edges as well as its texture at an angle. However, I believe it is worth to spend less than $10 to protect your multi-hundred dollar portable devices rather than some $50 case that adds a lot of bulk to it and distort its natural aesthetics. If there's one Best Skins Ever protection product for what you need, get it, man.
Special thanks to Michael at Best Skins Ever for making this review possible.
Rating: 7.7/10 | APH Recommended
- The rating 7/10 means "Great product with many advantages and certain insignificant drawbacks; but should be considered before purchasing".
- The rating 8/10 means "Definitely a very good product with drawbacks that isn't likely going to matter to the end user".
- More information in our Review Focus.
Almost scratch proof protection for your electronics that comes at a nearly unreal price. Some minor issues, but who could truly make a complaint?