Friday, June 11, 2004

Two Quickies

Mini USB: found another device which could share my Palm's mini-USB cable (and thus save a lot of hassle guddling around the USB ports), a cheap and cheerful (= works well on summer days!) Agfa camera.

Thin and sticky cases: via PocketGoddess I found these cases, currently only for the Zire 21, which appear to be the reviled JavoSkin design but with a clear flip screen cover. Probably excellent, if you can put up with the tactile experience.

Proporta Crystal Case Review

Cases are a very personal thing, but ever since I had one of these for my m505 (just checked the link and they have 'ceased operations - a pity since it was a great product), I have had an obsession with getting the thinnest case possible.

Crudely I divide cases into three categories:
  • maximum protection,
  • minimal distortion (i.e. makes very little change to the ergonomics of the device),
  • handbag replacements (lots of pockets).

Barring the original flip cover and the hopeless JavoEdge, the Proporta Crystal case is the thinnest I have found yet. It basically consists of two pieces of clear plastic and a double-jointed hinge:

The T|E clips snugly into the back section and there is a cutaway in the cover section to allow access to the hard buttons. The base has a cutaway to access the USB and AC connectors and at the top there is merely a headphone jack and the SD slot, allowing easy access to all functions.

You will notice from my photo, but not from the ones on the Proporta website, that the case is side opening. All the other cases in the 'Crystal' range are hinged at the top. PRO: much easier access to SD card, headphone jack, power button. CON: when using the Palm with the case open, it is uncomfortable to leave the cover loose, instead one must fold it back like this:

[This is described on the Proporta website as "double hinge allows case to be folded through 360 degrees", which made me laugh.]

In use, the case is really very practical. It slips comfortably into a trouser pocket, both because it is thin and has little friction. Because of the design of the T|E, the case is slightly wedge shaped, being thicker at the base, but even then it is slender:

I found the catch very difficult to use at first, but there is a 'knack' which makes it much easier but still fiddly compared to a magnetic closure on a leather case. I recommend practice: it would be excruciatingly embarrassing to whip out you PDA to jot down an appointment, only to find you could not open the case! The buttons can be used when the case is closed, but don't expect to be able to play games.

The really big question is: will it scratch and mark. If you have opted for the high-tec look over the boardroom sobriety of leather:

it had better look shiny and new whenever you put it on the table. One of the design faults of the T|E is that the reflective finish shows every fingermark and scratches like a wax tablet. I can confirm that the Crystal case does not have a fingermark problem, though dust and dirt shows up very clearly, but having had it only 24 hours, I simply do not know about scratches. Actually, that is not strictly true. In the interests of science I gently rubbed the tip of an unfolded paperclip up and down the back, and it did make scratches. But anyone who puts their Palm in the same pocket as sharp metal objects, in fact as any metal objects, deserves a few scratches. The real question is whether pulling it in and out of the pocket of your jeans will scratch it, and only time will tell on that one.