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Pimp Your Gadgets

You’ve bought yourself a shiny new mobile phone or you might have just assembled a new PC and we’re sure you are happy with it. But there is always a feeling deep down inside that something is missing, there is something that makes you feel that this new gadget or device is not completely yours. We believe you, this feeling is present in almost all of us – the need to personalize or customize everything we own. Be it a mobile phone, a computer or even something as small as a flash drive, we need it to be unique and different from the one owned by the average Joe. So what can you actually do to make your gadget more like you, well that’s what we’re here to tell you.

There are many things that you can customize, but what we’re focusing on here, is all about our gadgets and other technology products. Even so, the few of us who admit to geekdom, will not shy away from wearing that attitude on t-shirts, shoes, etc. so there’s a bit about that too along the way.

You must have heard of the show called ‘Pimp my Ride’, where all the bling is added to a person’s car, well we’re talking about pimping your gadgets, read on to find out more.

The easiest thing to do for small handheld devices is to attach accessories to them. These could vary from small key chains or lanyards that can be attached to mobile phones. If you notice, most pen drives now days come with a small attachment option, you could easily use this to attach a lanyard of your choice, which makes the device different from the others available and at the same time makes it easy for you to identify.

For mobile phones, another option is buying a funky external cover, but again, these are sold in bulk, so you might come across a random person with the same cover as you.

Other than mobile phones and flash drives, portable gaming devices such as the Nintendo DS and Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) are becoming quite popular. Personalizing these devices would definitely require a bit more than just key chains or lanyards. There are places where you can buy and replace the entire body of these devices. There are two uses for this, first you could save the original body from the usual rough handling and scratches and use it later, or do the reverse by using the device completely, and when bored change the body, which in both cases offers protection. To further customize a PSP or DS, there is something even better you could do – skin it. No, we don’t mean peel the skin off your device, but instead, put on a fancy new skin that personifies your individuality. These skins are available in sticker format and are made specifically for these devices, so there’s no cutting of any sorts needed, it’s just a simple sticker, but looks great and you won’t be able to know the difference. One might even think that it is the natural design of that device.

Not only can you skin just the PSP and DS, but there are a range of devices such as mobile phones, mp3 players, video game consoles and even laptops. The web site www.decalgirl.com offers skins for specific products and the entire range is listed on their site. Again, there is a small chance that the same skin might be used by someone else, and you will lose out on the entire personal and unique look that you are going for. Well, don’t be disheartened, decalgirl.com also offers customers a chance to get templates and design their own skins, but these templates can be used only for the products listed there. To take this one step further, there are some stores that offer even more personalization by adding crystals and gems to gadgets. You might have seen some celebrities on the television walking with a mobile phone covered in diamonds; well, you can have that done to your phone to. Just visit the store called SkinJam, located in Mumbai and Bengaluru, and you can get this done. You have more of an option to personalize considering the fact that there is no limit to certain models that you can have a skin added to, in comparison to decalgirl.com where you have to stick to the models present on the site.

There is a chance you can even get a skin for your PC cabinet which will look uber cool. The main drawback here is that you can’t do it yourself and the designs are mostly fixed, but you can see the employees of the shop work on your gadget, good for the people who don’t want to get their hands messy. Alright, enough about the small devices, what about adding that custom feel to your best asset? Stop thinking too much, all we’re talking about is your computer, which most of us geeks would have understood right away.

One of the best ways to start off your customization experience is by modifying your cabinet. Those of you who have deep pockets and don’t mind spending quite a bit can just buy the most expensive cabinet out there which will be unique in a way, as not many people will actually spend that much on it. But, for the rest of us who fall under the value segment will need to look for other means to satisfy our thirst for customization. The customization we’re talking about is case modding, which started as a hobby for some, who have now turned it into a profession. We spoke to Waseem Yusuf, a 21-year old B.Com graduate who has converted his hobby of case modding into a profession and has also started his own web store.

Where does one start with case modding, well firstly we’d suggest you purchase a fairly priced cabinet that you know you’re going to use to mod, and won’t feel sad even if something were to it in the process. This point is also agreed by Yusuf, who himself found modding tricky when he first started.

Case modding, doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you need to cut a piece of your cabinet, a nice paint job for your cabinet is also considered a mod. Yusuf specializes in glossy paint jobs and side panel cuts for various clients. He has now moved on to modifying cabinets keeping a theme in mind. One of the mods he has done was for the CEO of Vodafone India.

Once you have cut and put a shiny coat of paint on your cabinet you can add more class by using custom made fan grills and also customize the internal hardware of the computer. If you have a transparent side panel, you might want to show off what’s inside your cabinet. You can replace all the normal cooling fans within the cabinet with fans with LED lights or separately install LEDs to highlight your hardware.

Cutting the cabinet is just the basics of case modding, but how much further can that go. Well, a couple of years ago we had done an extreme monster mod and fit an entire computer into the case of a CRT monitor. Not only that, but at that time we molded out a monster. Check out the link to get a blast from the past.

Some of the really risky things that have been done by people are completely cutting up motherboards so that they can fit into the unique designs created and even create transparent casings for hard drives with LEDs lined on the inside, something we have yet to try.

A complete overhaul is also a possibility once you have a particular theme or concept in mind. Check out some of the crazy mods below that really inspire us to do something insane.

One of the greatest expressions of product customization – though on the non gizmo side – is in the form of custom t-shirts. You can say a lot to the world at large by just wearing a slogan, picture or sketch. It’s the literal form wearing your attitude. For a long time when it came to zany, smarty or eyebrow raising t-shirt prints the only option was the Tantra retail brand; famous for their collection of one-liners. But why go by someone else’s creation, when you’re more of a wise guy yourself? And certainly, why would you want to wear one of those boring brands that make unwitting promotional signboards out of you. Custom designed T-shirts are a way to express your individuality. With custom T-shirts you can make a statement by wearing a T-shirt that says “di9it inside” or even profess undying love for your favorite band through pictures or lyrics. You even have the option of being as fabulously offensive or fantastically tongue-in-cheek witty as you want.

There are many websites that have entered the fray to offer custom T-shirts among other customized stuff like mugs, mouse pads and stickers. A class of web sites in this segment are primarily photo printing web sites such as zoomin.com that also let you print photos on T-shirts. Then there are dedicated personalization web sites like early entrant myntra.com and several others including pringoo.com and dilsebol.com. The last category of T-shirt web sites do allow you to submit your own designs but for shopping on the fly you need to bank upon the hundreds of crazy designs already created by their designer communities. Let’s have a look at some of the web sites and what they have to offer.

myntra.com is by far India’s largest on-demand consumer products personalization brand. The web site is easy to navigate and their after sales service is excellent. For customizing products the web site has a nice applet which lets you add text and upload your own images while showing an instant preview. The user-generated designs and one-liners are not as snappy as some of the other players but there is certainly quantity. You have loads and loads of categories and thousands of designs to choose from. Look for the Digital world and Nerd categories under Life. The pricing too is reasonable. Head over to myntra.com for a clean shopping / gifting experience and look out for their collaborative offers. pringoo.com is yet another custom design franchise offering you pretty much everything including custom T-shirts, stickers and even chocolate wrappers powered by Cadbury’s. The designing applet works really well but doesn’t offer as many fonts as Myntra. The community generated designs are especially witty. The “computer age” and “gaming” categories have nice designs. We found one that says “PC Problem? Date a geek” and others that are too raunchy to even mention! Dilsebol.com really has nothing to offer that’s worth writing home about. The design tool is very buggy, while browsing through other designs is painful. The only thing worth mentioning was the option to modify pre-existing designs. Now we come down to the last category of web sites that allow you to submit designs into the general pool of designs, but if the design is ever to see the front of a T-shirt it needs to be really good and hence approved. The benefit of this is that you get access to a set of really high quality designs and a vibrant active designer community. In this space we have tshirts.in, inkfruit.com and bluebustees.com. tshirts.in may not look all hot a site but has some really nice designs.
The slogans are insanely funny and the t-shirts quite affordable. inkfruit.com has by far the most artistic designs and actual photographs of T-shirts being worn. We quite liked some of the Pac man and Tetris prints. Being the sentimental geeks that we are the first thought they evoked was “now that’s cool”. Then there are noteworthy vector art creations. The web sites offers its designer community several competitions and prizes. So if you feel you have it in you, be a prosumer and submit your own designs.

Next up bluebustees.com has two very disparate and interesting categories for browsing, viz. Parents Approved and Parents NOT Approved. Without going into details the category names should give you a fair idea of what you can expect in each. So go ahead create your own or choose designs that speak to you and express yourself. We’re pretty sure you’ll turn a few heads.

T-Shirt Printing Technology

We were quite curious to know more about the actual technology that enables printing on T-Shirts. What are the different processes? Which one is more suited for a particular cloth or color scheme etc. So, we met Mr. Mukesh Bansal, CEO of Myntra.com for some insights into this field. There are currently four types of printing technologies being used. Screen Printing is a more traditional type of technology. It is used for printing T-shirts in bulk where you have only a fixed number of colors. If there are four colors a screen will be printed for each of the colors. Only the part that is treated gets transferred with a run of each screen. That way there is a limitation of six to eight colors. So, in this type of printing you need bulk for the economies of scale to apply, otherwise one T-shirt will cost you Rs. 5000 which is not very practical. For printing single T-shirts one of the technologies available is sublimation. This can work only work for poly-cotton T-shirts. The design is first printed on paper with a special ink, which doesn’t get absorbed on the paper. Then the paper is heat-pressed on the cloth so the color gets absorbed on the cloth. The finish comes out good but this is limited to white polycottons. At the most very light colors. Then there is something called DTG (Direct to Garment) Printing. This is basically a modified inkjet and can work on any kind of surface. It supports 32 bit color printing. The machine pretty much also looks like an inkjet printer. Lastly there is Print and Cut which is used for intricate designs. In this form the design is first printed on a special media and the outline is cut before being heat pressed onto the fabric. Vendors need to make a choice between these technologies depending on the formulation of design; whether it consists of a photograph, slogan, or vector graphics etc. and the type of fabric and color that was chosen.