Coveroo: The new face of cell phone faceplates

At a recent holiday product preview in New York, representatives from Best Buy showcased the chain's biggest and brightest Christmas toys.

Unfortunately, I am legally restricted from discussing some of the more exciting new gizmos (here's a hint: have you ever wanted to talk to your cat?), but I can gladly report that there are new computers and televisions aplenty, and that some of this year's consumer electronics will blow your mind.

However, one of my favorite new toys isn't even being offered in most Best Buy stores. Coveroo, a San Francisco-based company, has developed a system that enables users to pick an image and laser-etch it on their cell phone faceplates, all in less time than it takes to get a latte from Starbucks.

This fall, it will be offering the service in four Best Buy outlets: Virginia's Fair Oaks Mall, Minnesota's Mall of America, Illinois' Woodfield Mall, and West Hollywood, California.
While customers who don't live in these four lucky areas can't get their etching done at their friendly neighborhood Best Buy, all is not lost: Coveroo also operates online.

Basically, all you need to do is pick your phone, choose your design, pay the folks and wait for a couple of days while they make your new faceplate and send it to you.

For me, this has proven particularly helpful. My wife and I have the same cell phone and, while we have experimented with various types of personalization, this has been the best by far.

Frankly, the image of The Family Guy's Brian Griffin proclaiming "A martini a day keeps the fleas away" is pretty distinctive, and the fact that it is etched on my phone's cover means that I don't have to worry about stickers flaking off or chipping.

This is not to say, however, that Coveroo is without its shortcomings. The biggest issue is price: charges start at $29, with rates going up depending upon level of personalization, shipping, and other factors. While this can pale in comparison to other forms of personalization, it is still somewhat expensive, and may convince some users to hold off.

Beyond this, most phone models are composed of solid plastic, which means that the etching may be hard to see. In the case of my phone, for example, I needed to color in my little Brian Griffin picture with white-out before it became really visible.

In the end, though, the etching is pretty cool, and definitely beats the vampire dragon-decorated cover that I had on my last phone. Best of all, my wife and I can now tell our phones apart, even in the dark.

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