Why it pays to protect your gadgets

The best part about getting a new gadget is unboxing it and reveling in the pristine condition it is currently. Next comes that little bit of joy when you see the logo appear on screen and hear the first startup chime.

Normally for the next month you'll baby the device, but eventually you'll get the first scuff or scratch and the newness is gone. At this point it's not just your enjoyment that has diminished; it's the resale value of the device when you end up selling it for the next version a year later.

When it comes to reselling an item, looks matter, and it is hard to place a value on just how much the average eBay or Craigslist buyer puts on the look of your last gadget. But Gazelle.com, an electronics recycling company, shares how it grades your gadgets. Anthony Scarsella, Gazelle's Chief Gadget Officer, was able to tell WalletPop in a phone interview just how much a scuff or a scratch will affect your iPhone or Droid's resale value.

Gazelle uses a four point grading system for appearance from perfect to poor and each of these levels will cut away from the value you can earn from reselling your old gadgets.
  • Perfect -- Like new -- No deduction in value
  • Good -- Few scuffs -- 10% deduction
  • Fair -- Heavy use, minor dents and scratches -- 25% deduction
  • Poor - Cracked housing, scratches on screen etc. -- up to 80% deduction
If you want to keep your gadgets looking like brand new so you can enjoy a high resale value, but you actually want to use your device, there are several ways to protect your device. Best of all, you don't have to add bulk or spend a fortune doing it.

Gazelle recommends getting a protective shield for your device like an InvisibleShield from Zagg and protecting the device with a case. If your device is already in poor condition, Scarsella recommends that you replace the housing. You can get a new OEM housing from a third party and in doing so, "you'll see a very high return," he said. Guides to replacing the housing of popular devices are available on Gazelle's YouTube account.

Another great way to protect a device without adding bulk is with a Gelaskins protective skin. These expressive skins include artwork form independent artists, Marvel Comics and National Geographic so that you don't have to be boring while you protect your device.

I have reviewed a Gelaskins laptop skin and recently the Gelaskins iPad skin and found both to offer a surprising amount of protection. I even took a set of keys to the Gelaskin laptop skin and there was no mark left. The Gelaskins skins don't come with a screen protector, though you can add one to your purchase for many devices.

I really like the expression that the Gelaskins skins provide, including the ability to upload your own photo, at reasonable prices. Most phone and small gadget cases are $14.95 and larger devices like laptop and iPad skins are $29.95.

For the next two weeks you can save 15% off your Gelaskins.com order with the coupon code 'WALLETPOP.
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