Sunday, July 31, 2016

dbrand concrete skin review

A couple weeks back, dbrand unleashed their new skin designed to make your device look like concrete. Initially, I wasn't sold on the idea of the concrete skin because it kinda looked plain, but after seeing a few images of it on twitter, I was somewhat convinced that a concrete skin might just be what I need. The addition of a store-wide 30% discount made the purchase decision easier and after three weeks of patiently waiting, the concrete skin from dbrand finally arrived on my doorstep
Skinning the Surface Pro 4"If I were to score the installation on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the easiest. I would give it a 8/10 because the video instruction is pretty useful. It is also nice to know that the 3M paper dbrand is using can be easily removed without leaving any sticky spots behind." Continue reading.
Compared to my previous experience with the dbrand bamboo skin which took about a week and a half to arrive, the fulfilment this time around was truly slow. At some point, I thought that dbrand actually forgot my order because I was checking out twitter and a lot of people were boasting their new concrete skins. I had to contact dbrand through email twice to put my mind to ease. 

The skin did eventually arrive but it comes at a time where I have lost my initial enthusiasm towards the concrete skin. I didn't feel the same excitement unwrapping the mailing envelope that contained my first dbrand skin. So, the question I will be answering today is whether the concrete skin is a solid deal or not?

Installing Concrete

Like before, installation was fairly simple with the video that dbrand has on YouTube. The biggest obstacle this time around is actually removing the bamboo skin that I applied several months back. Admittedly, removing the skin is harder than it looks because the adhesive is so strong and it took me a while to even peel out the side of the skin. 

At the same time, I also found out that the dbrand skin is actually a one time application kind of thing because after taking out the skin, the skin ended up being stretched and completely unusable. And as expected, there was no sticky residue left behind after taking off the skin because dbrand is using genuine 3M vinyl. 

Moving on to the actual installation of my dbrand concrete skin on my Surface Pro 4, the installation was a breeze mainly because I did it before and while I have done it before, I did fire up the dbrand video to prevent any mistakes. Overall, I think I did a better job in aligning the skin this time around. 
After dealing with the top portion, the next thing was to apply the concrete Microsoft logo. Since, I wasn't planning to replace the carbon fiber skin on the bottom half of the device, taking out the existing bamboo skin looked like a challenge. At first, I was scratching my head a little thinking as to how I was supposed to take out these 4 bamboo boxes.

Then it occurred to me that there was a slight spacing between the actual skin and the corner of each box. Back when I was applying the bamboo skin, I did notice that millimeter thin spacing between the edge of the box and I thought it was because the cut was not that precise. But as it turns out, this is actually a pretty ingenious addition.
I may have found a way to peel out the skin but it was by no means easy. Just like the top half portion, these tiny square skins ended up being unusable and I finally understand why dbrand includes two sets of skins for the Microsoft logo portion, peeling them off includes tearing the edges off.

When it was time to apply the new concrete skin, I stumbled upon a big problem and that is that the concrete square is not cut to the right size. It is actually oversized compared to my bamboo skin (as you can see in the picture below). It was a slight error but it was easily fixed with a knife.
After finishing up with the concrete skin on the Surface Pro 4, I moved my attention to applying the concrete skin on my Moto X. As before, I followed the video guide but I stumbled upon a problem at the first step. That is, the cutout for the microphone hole on the bottom of the device was missing. For a moment, it felt like I had to pop out the x-acto again to do a little DIY job but upon close inspection, I noticed that the hole for the microphone was there.

The hole for the microphone hole was punched onto the skin but the hole was not punched out. All I did after that was to pull out a pen and viola, the microphone hole now exists. The overall skin itself ended up fitting pretty flawlessly.

Wrap-up

When I was applying the dbrand concrete skin on the Moto X, I was touching the skin on the 3M paper and it literally felt like a smooth surface but after applying it, it did somehow feel a little rough and solid. Not sure if it's my mind playing games with me or what but it did feel a little rough in the hand and it certainly improved the aesthetics of my Moto X.

So, the million-dollar question about dbrand's concrete skin is whether it actually feels like concrete. Sadly, the answer is no as it is more of a aesthetic look rather than an functional design. I wasn't too disappointed with the skin because I didn't have high hopes for it to have a grippy feel after being applied. It is still after all just a thin vinyl wrap that is no thicker than the carbon fiber dbrand skin.

But, compared to an un-skinned phone, the dbrand concrete skin did add some level of roughness to my phone compared to a phone without a skin at all. At the end of the day, the concrete skin is still an aesthetic choice rather than a functional one and I think the best use for the concrete skin is as a theme color to blend with skin designs.

Would I buy it again? Probably, but I personally still think that dbrand's carbon fiber skin is still the best option in terms of functionality and looks. This is not the end, as you can see my microsoft logo dbrand skin is still vacant, that story is still a work in progress and it should be published sometime in August.

Check out some glamour shots of the dbrand concrete skin below. Tip: click the image to enlarge

Insider Talk

Phew, this article is finally done. I really didn't mean to delay this article but it did take a while for me to resolve the issue with the Microsoft logo cutout with dbrand. As I am publishing this article, I am still waiting for the replacement skins for dbrand to arrive and I am expecting to write a follow up article about that in the coming weeks.

dw