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Grinder Gear Cases Review
Mead Lawson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Grinder Gear makes cases for the serious outdoor enthusiast. They sell three models which can accommodate a large variety of palm sized PDAs. Grinder Gear differentiates their products by constructing them for those who enjoy outdoor sports from the tame to the extreme and require serious protection for their PDA. In fact, Grinder Gear like’s to call their products "SUB"s, or Sport Utility Bags.
Flexibility in overall design offers variety in terms of what can be carried along with your PDA. I found all zippers and compartments easy to access and use. They are soft and pliable, and come in several color styles. The stitching adds to their contemporary sport design.
I am impressed with the overall craftsmanship of these sport utility bags. According to Grinder Gear, each is constructed with 1000 Denier Corura Nylon, EPV foam, 5/8" climber’s webbing, shock cord and a soft inner fleece lining. In other words, high quality materials equal high quality product.
The three models all include a well designed high impact plastic belt clip as well as webbing belt loops for added security while cycling, climbing or otherwise running about like a billy goat. I can’t imagine either of these belt attachments breaking.
The Scout is the slimmest and least expensive of the lot.
This model opens via a "Flextight" cover that wraps around the entire front of the case. The front flap is attached at the top rear of the case and wraps down the front and sides, securing fully underneath and around the rear again. The PDA is removed from the top when the cover flap is retracted. I found it easy enough to open with one hand, but more difficult to close. I had to remove it from my belt to close it fully. I also found that I kept pressing the hardware buttons in the process which, of course, turns most PDA devices on. (How did I know? I have TrekSounds Hack installed and it made a noise each time it turned on. J ) This isn’t a big deal since most come with an auto-off timer and/or a flip cover, but I found this a bit bothersome and thought I’d mention it. Besides a design conflict with the antenna of a PalmVx + Omnisky modem, this model does appear to fit the average palm sized PDA quite well. The m100 and PalmVIIx fit just fine.
"Basecamp" Price: $39.95
The Basecamp represents the middle-of-the-road model in terms of price and features.
Basecamp comes with one main fleece lined top-fill compartment and a sizable hinged external zippered pocket. Two additional flat pockets can be found inside this hinged one. The front outer mesh and shock cord webbing forms yet another useful storage area. Velcro ensures closure, here. The backside of the case includes a belt clip, webbing belt loops as well as a strap handle.
The top of the case utilizes a shock cord which forms a flip cover. I don’t have one in hand, and had to wonder how effective this cover is if turned upside-down.
"Expedition" Price: $44.95
The Expedition is the most elaborately equipped, and most expensive model of the three SUBs.
Expedition sports a total of 4 zippered pockets including the main (yes, fleece lined) double sided compartment. Like the Basecamp model, there is a mesh pocket on the front with a top Velcro enclosure. Webbing belt loop straps on top and the left side of the case afford additional carrying options.
The main compartment is accessed by a zipper along the right-hand side extending completely around the bottom and top, opening the case like a butterfly’s wings. It can be laid flat for easy, wrestle-free access to all compartments.
The left side of the main compartment contains a vertically zippered pocket behind the fleece lining. A horizontally oriented strap is positioned at the top and can be used to hold a small paper notepad, if desired. The right side also contains a similarly vertical zippered pocket, also behind fleece lining. I don’t recommend storing hard bulky items in these pockets. They are best suited to either flat or thick, but soft items. As I mentioned previously, the fleece lining does not provide adequate screen protection against hard bulky items, and in my opinion may not protect a PDA’s glass screen if it suffered a hard impact. Enhanced screen protection (a sheet of hard plastic or something similar) could be added without much additional cost or design modification.
The right side is used to house your PDA and is held down at each corner by four angled elastic straps. While the straps held my IIIxe and VIIx firmly in place, the lower two straps covered the outer hardware buttons too much for my taste. However, I find this an acceptable trade-off given the only other widely used alternative is Velcro. And, I despise using Velcro to secure a PDA. On another note, I was also unable to raise the antenna on my PalmVIIx. This may not be the best play-through case for the PalmVII series, but I imagine it will work quite well for others.
The right side also comes equipped with two horizontal straps (top & bottom) which lie beneath the elastic straps. These can be used to hold a variety of flat items.
The inside spine is typically equipped for accommodating barrel shaped accessories such as two extra batteries (AA or AAA) and two regular sized pens.
If you're interested in buying, I recommend filling out their short on-line survey. You will be rewarded with a 5% discount on your purchase.
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