Product: Protective skins for the Nintendo 3DS
Price: GelaSkins – $19.95; SkinIt – $29.99
Overall: Each skin has its particular strengths and weaknesses, but both are recommended. It really just comes down to how much coverage you want and which designs you like.
Nintendo has apparently developed an affection for shiny objects. I have not. Although the Nintendo DSi XL and the new Nintendo 3DS both feature shiny, almost reflective tops, my first thought with each was hurry and get them covered up. I’m not a fan of the way they look and, even more so, I’m not a fan of how they attract fingerprints.
Thankfully, there are quite a few companies out there making skins for your electronic devices. In this review, I’ll take a look at two for the 3DS: GelaSkins and SkinIt. Both do a great job, they just take different approaches.
GelaSkins is the more thorough of the two companies, from a coverage standpoint. Their skin wraps around almost all corners and over all edges of the 3DS, pretty much taking over its entire personality.
Depending on which design you want, this could be a good thing. The aqua 3DS is a very difficult color to match so, if your chosen design doesn’t feature complementary colors, you’ll want to hide as much of the 3DS as possible. The GelaSkins lineup centers around artwork from famous and lesser known artists, and with their huge selection, you’re bound to find something that suits your tastes.
There are a couple problems with this degree of coverage, though. First, you’re covering things to which you’ll eventually need access, such as the screws on the bottom of the device. If you want to access the battery, you’ll have to completely remove the skin. Theoretically, it can placed on its original backing and reapplied later but the GelaSkins are so intricate that if they stretch at all during removal (and they likely will), you won’t get a good fit when reapplying them.
The second problem is that they’re difficult to get off their backing and onto the 3DS. The speaker holes in particular are a pain because they always lift up with the part you want to apply. Poke them out and they’ll just flip back onto the adhesive. In order to have any success with them, I had to use tweezers and a toothpick to get them out of the way.
Once that’s done, though, the fit is amazing. And because the skin tends to wrap around the edges, holding the 3DS still feels natural.
That’s not entirely the case with SkinIt’s version.
SkinIt doesn’t bother with complete coverage, allowing more of the 3DS’s personality to show through. Luckily, I was able to find a great color match in this Tron: Legacy skin.
Honestly, I’m not sure why a skin company hasn’t licensed more video game characters. GelaSkins has none, SkinIt has something called Poptropica. You’ll have to tell me what that is.
Regardless, the SkinIt skin just sits on top of your 3DS without wrapping around anything and the bottom actually has cutouts for the screws, covering just the battery lid itself. This is more convenient but it creates a somewhat unnatural hold as you can feel the edges of the skin when playing with the 3DS. It’s not a big deal, but something to get used to.
Because the SkinIt skins aren’t as intricate, they’re easier to apply than the GelaSkins. A single triangular cutout becomes the opening for the speakers, for example, as opposed GelaSkins’ individual circles for each speaker hole. I’m fine with this.
You ultimately won’t get as much protection from SkinIt as corners and edges are still exposed but the fit is just as good where it matters.
SkinIt’s main draw, though, is its license collection. They’ve got Disney (obviously), professional and collegiate sports teams, political figures, religious themes, military designs, The Simpsons, Looney Tunes, and plenty more.
With GelaSkins, you can let people know your taste in art. With SkinIt, you can let people know whether you’re Team Edward or Team Canucks.
So, which do I recommend? Both and quite enthusiastically. GelaSkins and SkinIt each make quality skins that look great on your 3DS. GelaSkins offers better protection with more thorough coverage, but SkinIt’s are easier to manage and allow the 3DS to be itself. That should factor into your decision.
In the end, though, you’ll go with the design you like. And that’s fine. If either company made a Flash Gordon or Fire Emblem skin that’s the one I’d choose regardless of what else is important to me. As it stands, though, I’m quite happy with the both Tron Legacy and Lawrence Yang.