El Cheapo Laptop Customisation

In 3 easy steps:

  1. Locate a piece of car decal.
  2. Apply decal on laptop cover (remove backing, apply on laptop, rub down firmly, remove clear film).
  3. Done. Sit back and admire.


Unlike real laptop skins, this offers no protection to your laptop. Nope. Nada. Zip. If you look carefully, you will see the scratch on my laptop near the right hinge — you’ve been warned. If you want your own design, go to your favourite car workshop and ask if they offer custom decal services as well.

The sticker shop at Autobacs does custom sticker printing for vectorised graphics but not bitmaps (e.g. photos or colour-intensive designs), other shops might be able to do so. Costs depend on the final size of the decal and the number of colours in your design.

In any case, my off-the-shelf S$6.50 sticker looks surprisingly good. The glossy sticker really stands out on the Thinkpad’s rubberised matte surface, and the overall effect is pretty sharp.

The downside is that the sticker is probably one-time use only because peeling it off will stretch the material. As for residue, I seriously doubt the sticker will leave any on a regular smooth laptop cover (it is meant for a car afterall). There was a very slight “mark” on the Thinkpad’s matte surfaced cover, but nothing that cannot be removed with a regular wipe. I’ve only had the sticker on for a day, so I can’t vouch for its durability. It does stick quite securely, so unless you peel it off intentionally, I don’t think it will come off that easily.

I briefly considered laser-etching but (i) couldn’t find anyone locally to do it, (ii) the effect on a Thinkpad is too subtle unlike on the Powerbook/Macbook where it looks incredible.

Still, for $6.50 and less than 10 minutes work, I’m pretty satisfied. I’m giving it a week or two to see if the sticker stays on. If all goes well, I will go and make myself a nice custom one. 🙂

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