Tuesday, April 08, 2003
A comparative case review
For me there are just three important considerations in choosing a case for my Palm:
1: Form - can I carry my Palm comfortably in a trouser pocket while walking moderate distances, i.e. 1 - 3 miles (any further and I am likely to take a backpack)?
2: Function - can I do everything I want without taking the Palm out of the case? In particular, can I do everything while standing up?
3: Protection - does it provide adequate protection when the Palm is in my pocket (protecting the Palm while it is in a bag is a different matter)?
To lay down the ground rules: belt clips are out. I get far to self-conscious about the whole Batman thing. So the solution must be a very slim case or protective cover. I did use the aluminium flip-cover from Pocket Solutions (http://www.thepocketsolution.com/) for quite a while, and have made my own changes to its design, but two accidents led me to search for something more protective. In this reveiw, I am going to compare three: the $120 i-volution Natu from Vaja (http://www.vajacases.com/), the $35 Slipper from E&B (http://www.ebcases.com/), and the $29 flip-top from Digital Express (http://shop.brando.com.hk/).
These three cases are very different solutions to the same design problem: to get the slimmest possible leather case for a TT. The Natu and E&B apply signature designs, whereas the Digital Express case is a problem-specific solution (which I guess is fairly obvious, since Covertec came up with an almost identical solution). They have one thing in common: they flip open with the 'hinge' at the top.
I have expanded my three criteria to seven to make the assessment less idiosyncratic. I have added 'cost' (not value), 'quality', 'style', and divided functionality into 'functions' for such things as ease of access to hard buttons, and 'compatibility' for how easy it is to use peripherals such as the cradle or a keyboard. 'Form' has become 'bulk' to give it a clear separation from 'style'. The first number is a ranking, the second a mark out of 5. The same score out of 5 is necessary but not sufficient for the same ranking.
As you can see, an analysis like this shows the cases to be pretty evenly matched. The E&B and Digital Express come out exactly equal on rankings aggregate and almost equal on scorings, but for different reasons. The E&B only gets one 1st and one 3rd whereas the Digital Express gets three of each. In other words, the E&B does most things competently. The Natu is seriously compromised on compatibility and price, but excels in many areas. This gives it a good rankings aggregate, but since the areas where it is bad it is VERY bad, it comes a poor 3rd on points. I tried not to double-count weaknesses. For example, the E&B is a rather loose fit, which comprises protection and also functionality, since the force required to open the slider often removes it from the case completely.
Now how do I choose? Well, to tell you the truth I have gone back to using the Cover-up and adapted a Proporta neoprene case for when I need extra protection.
[It is the neoprene case designed for a PPC machine. I took out the very thick ABS rear stiffener, and now I can get my TT with Cover-up, my ear-bud headphones, 2 SD cards, 2 credit cards and a driving licence into it quite comfortably. I left the slightly thinner front stiffener in place, becaus eit gives shape to the case and protection to my credit and SD cards. The neoprene gives some impact resistance and some water-resistance.]