If you've read our Apple iPad review, you'll have seen Fusion of Ideas' StealthArmor skin for the tablet. Differentiating themselves from rivals by virtue of their carbon fiber film technology, the adhesive panels also get a significantly higher price tag too, so is it worth it? Check out the full SlashGear review after the cut.
As we said in our GelaSkins review earlier, adhesive skins make a lot of sense when it comes to the iPad. Bare, the tablet is sturdy but definitely prone to scratches, particularly the brushed aluminum back panel, and we can certainly see owners looking to avoid that. Cases, however - especially Apple's own - add bulk and detract from the iPad's distinctive, slimline profile. Meanwhile, skins are also an opportunity to differentiate your iPad from everyone elses'.
StealthArmor, Fusion of Ideas tell us, is based on an adhesive film intended for automotive use and is apparently good enough to resist rock and asphalt impact during racing car trials. The likelihood of someone holding their iPad out of the window while attempting to break a Nurburgring record is low, but don't underestimate the scratch-potential of a set of loose keys.
In the pack there are two sheets, one that completely covers the back - including the Apple logo - and another, clear panel for the entire front including the screen. While it's naturally sticky, Fusion of Ideas actually recommend using heat to better "activate" their adhesive and then thoroughly seal it to the device for a better fit. Best tool for that, they suggest, is a hair-dryer: a few seconds of heat in a fanning motion, and then smooth your fingers over the panel to flatten it out fully.
To be honest, we didn't find we needed to use heat to get a decent finish, but it did come in useful to remove the StealthArmor afterwards. Fusion of Ideas say the sheets aren't intended for multiple applications, but we found that, with a little care, we could take them off in pretty much as-new condition. Considering they start at $45, that makes a big difference to value.
Fusion of Ideas offer five finishes - brushed aluminum, carbon fiber, white carbon, matte black and wood grain - but unlike, say, GelaSkins though, there's also a clear option if you want to make your iPad look as stock as normal. If you want something more distinctive, the company has a customization service called DigitalTechToo which can laser-engrave either one of the company's own patterns or digital artwork you send them onto a StealthArmor panel. We sent them a SlashGear wallpaper, and the end result - while monochrome - is crisp, clean and looks great. It's also durable - in the time we've had the StealthArmor on, we've not noticed any scratching or marks.
At the start we asked whether the premium price Fusion of Ideas were asking was worth it. At $45 for the clear package, or $65 for the carbon fiber or other finishes - factor in another $35 to $65 for DigitalTechToo custom artwork - they're not the cheapest of skins, but their re-usability makes them distinct from rivals. We prefer a well-tailored skin to a case, simply because it maintains the iPad's low profile, and the slight texturing does make the slippery body easier to hold. The iPad is a premium product, after all; it deserves premium protection to go along with it. [Website: Fusion of Ideas for iPad]
Note: For those who are concerned about applying the StealthArmor themselves, although it is not difficult as you can see from our video, Fusion of Ideas offers professional installation at their retail location in southern California (see Web site for detail/directions). Customers outside of CA are welcome to send in their iPads, but keep in mind that it will come with a small installation fee($15 for installation plus shipping both ways), and you'll have to part from your iPad.