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Rising sun laptop skin design from Gelaskins.
I'm really happy with my cute little 14-inch laptop. Wish I'd chosen a different color, though. The lid is a dark blue that looked sleek and soothing on the website when I placed my order. In real life, though? It looks just like plain old navy blue -- definitely more blah than soothing.

Are you unhappy or bored with your laptop? Yeah? Well, fortunately, there's never been a better time to personalize your machine ... or your iPod, Blackberry, cell or other device, for that matter. Whatever your gadget, make it really pop with a cool custom or DIY skin. Let's take a peek at some of the options:

1. Ready-made Skins.
First up, there are tons of ready-made laptop skins out there. These may be purchased from computer manufacturers or from a number of other online sources. Dell, for example, now offers over 200 skin designs in a rainbow of colors and styles. Visit Dell Design Studio to see them all.

For other peel-and-stick solutions, check out sites like Gelaskins, Sticker Giant, RoomMates and Schtickers.

All-in-all, styles run the gamut from wild kaleidoscopes to understated abstract and nature themes. My tastes run to the latter -- I really liked Dell's "Lovers in Morning" designed by Deanne Cheuk and "Birds" by Jason Holley.

2. Custom Skins. If none of the ready-made styles work, have a custom design made especially for you. Just select a website and upload that cherished photo or piece of original artwork. Tweak your design, then confirm and you're done. The finished skin will be mailed to you. So easy!

Online sources for custom skins include Schtickers and Skinit's Customizer. If (like me) you have a Dell, you'll probably want to head straight to Dell's Skinit page.

3. DIY Skins. Prices for ready-made and custom skins usually run around $30 to $60 and up. So DIY is the way to go if you need to cut costs -- or if you're just a hands-on, crafty type of person.

Coming up with a design is only the first step. Equally as important is finding a way to attach the skin to your computer in a way that does not end up looking amateurish.

Need pointers? Check out this Instructables feature, "Make Your Own Notebook/Laptop Skin." Here you can glean some tips on making a collage design for your laptop. The maker of this example recommends holding your finished skin in place with a layer of adhesive laminate or vinyl cling.

High school and college students: this makes for a great late-summer project. It won't set you back much more than a few dollars and, best of all, you'll have something unique to show off when school resumes!


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