Pimp That Cell Phone

As appealing as some manufacturers strive to make such things, people aren't willing to accept anyone else's dictates as the final word in the way products should look. In a world where Paris Hilton totes around a Sidekick II with a Swarovski-crystal customization that costs more than the hardware, is this sort of thing harmless fun or another sign of the pending apocalypse? The Duo examine the outer limits of phone ornamentation in a segment shamelessly ripped off from MTV, called ... Pimp My Phone!

The Duo's first exhibit is relatively sedate: a collection of colorful leather cases, made by Naztech, designed to protect and spiff up your mobile. They're useful and attractive (more so than your standard-issue phone holster, anyway), but that's not where Steve and Angela are heading with this.

The next items to be scrutinized are cell-phone charms, the gadget jewelry (that's right, jewelry for gadgets) beloved by 14-year-old girls the world over. Some are simply small decorative items, but the Duo located a variety that claimed to blink when the phone was ringing. Testing failed spectacularly (though, alas, off-camera). Not only did the gizmos refuse to blink when the phones to which they were attached rang, but several randomly lit up while unattached to phones (ringing or otherwise).

The Duo had better results with the lower-tech process of skinning, by which they mean doing for phones and other gadgets what's been done to software programs for years. Steve and Angela goofed around with a Nokia phone that allows the user to switch around various pseudo-skins--in fact, faceplates to be inserted beneath the clear covers of the phones, with templates available for owners to create more on their printers. But the real fun came with an assortment of printed sticky-paper skins from SkinIt.com. The Duo's "testing" on those ranged from a random mobile phone, suitably Duo-ized, to the previously reviewed Mac Mini, which Steve covered with an image of stained-glass windows. (Terrible pun, but trust us, it could have been much worse; a truly noxious joke about chickens and eggs was mercifully deleted, though you can see the skins themselves in the video clip.)

If you're after something even more full of personality (or if you happen to be a member of the sought-after grade-school, mobile-toting demographic), you might appreciate the critters unearthed by Steve and Angela in the form of Fun Friends--fuzzy, animal-shaped covers for your mobile phone. Steve demonstrates, chattering into a pink-puppy-covered phone to mild comic effect, while Angela ruefully displays a selection of matching, marsupial-esque Kaguru phone pouches, wondering as the segment closes exactly how many hyper-girlie phone containers are destined for the collections of grown females who really ought to know better.

Love this kind of stuff? Want some online reading material? Some of the best blogs around deal with tech style and fashion. Angela and Steve suggest you check out Gizmodo, Engadget, and Popgadget--three fabulous blogs, all following the latest fashions in trendy technology. Be there or be putty-colored.

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