Friday, February 25, 2005

Proporta Alu-Leather Case Review

Obviously the first accessory to get for a new PDA is a screen protector and the second a case. The Treo 600 comes with an elastic sided slip case, but since I am often using mine when walking, the two-handed operation of using a slip case would not be practical, and it is not possible to use headphones while the Treo is in the slip case.

After some market research I settled on the Proporta Alu-Leather flip case as promising the best combination of protection and functionality. It covers the front and the back of the Treo, closes with a magnetic snap and has aluminium reinforcement in the front flap to protect the screen from impacts. The aerial protrudes from the top and the headphone jack is easily accessible when the case is closed. Attaching the hotsync cable is easy too:

The Treo is held in place by two side grips which have little neoprene pads inside them and hold it quite tightly. As an extra security, the the tab for closing the case would stop the Treo sliding out of the bottom:

Because of the size of the Treo, there is no credit card slot and only space for one SD card:

The back of the case holds two secrets. the visible one is a small screw:

which can be replaced by a belt-clip, if that is your wont.

The other is hidden: a metal disk stitched into the leather which fits precisely on one of Proporta's magnetic car mounts. Very neat.

My first impression of this case is that it adds quite a bit of thickness to the Treo: you cannot fit it comfortably in a trouser pocket. But the Treo is quite thick anyway, a fact cleverly hidden by the curved back, so anything but the most form-fitting case would have this effect. I am tempted to use teh Treo 'naked', but have a fondness for protecting my PDAs.

Another point to note is that the case does press down on the 5-way navigator, so you must have the keyguard activated whenever you close the case. Again, this is a very minor criticism, because most people will probably do that anyway.

It is the nature of a flip-top case that there is going to be a bit flapping around when the case is open. When using the Treo as a PDA this is unnoticeable, but when making phone calls it takes a while to get used to. So if you have a Treo primarily as a phone, you might not like this case. Myself, I have the Treo as a PDA which happens to have phone capabilities, and I am very happy with the case.

One of my favourite 'features' of this case is that it stps the Treo looking too much like a phone. I work in a university where it would be considered rude to have your phone on the table during a meeting. With the Treo in this case, there is just enough uncertainty about what the device is for me to get away with it (so long as the d**n thing does not start ringing!).

My overall impression is that Proporta have pulled off the impossible compromise here: the case is great value, offers a very high level of protection, and still looks smart enough for 'formal' occasions.