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The Price:
  • m5: $30
  • m5 and Fablock: $32
  • m1: $24
  • m1 and Fablock: $26
  • Fablock: $6
  • Coverplates: $12
The Pros:
  • Excellent protection for Palm
  • Removable coverplates in different colors
  • Can be clipped to belt or purse

The Cons:
  • Adds Bulk
  • Wearing on belt elicits insults from friends

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Scribble Chameleon m5 and m1 Hardcases Review
By Ed Hardy
8/15/2001


Overview
Scribble makes a line of hardcases made of ABS plastic for extra protection for the handheld. These can also be clipped to the the user's belt, purse, etc.

Protection
My rep at Scribble flat out told me they are targeting these cases at people who are willing to accept a large case for the added protection.

And these cases do provide protection. They are made of ABS plastic, which is the same stuff they make hard hats out of. If it is strong enough to protect people's skulls, it is strong enough for my m505.

The guys at Palmtop Pro put this case to the ultimate test: they dropped one, with a handheld inside, out of a small plane over 500 feet in the air at 75 mph. Both case and handheld survived the experience with flying colors, if you'll forgive the pun.

The Chameleon line's sliding clasp plays a major part in protecting the Palm. It is designed to keep the case from coming open if it is dropped. This is a big advantage over its competitors.

There are downsides to all this protection and they are mostly related to adding bulk. The m5 is about the size of III series Palm. However, if you were carrying around a III instead, it wouldn't be as well protected as your m505 in its case. Unless you have some mondo big pockets, you can't put the m5 or m1 into one. If you want both hands free, you need to put it into a backback or get the FabLock.

It isn't the added size when closed that I saw as these cases biggest drawback. It's the cover. Opening the case effectively doubles the size of the unit and using the Palm with the cover hanging off to the left takes a bit of getting used to.

Style
Scribble's cases aren't just about protection. They at least make a nod to fashion. The body of both the m1 and m5 is silver plastic but both have removable faceplates that can be changed out. This means you can have your case be your favorite color or even switch them out every day to match your outfit.

They will ship with two faceplates. One is the same color as the rest of the case for those who are afraid of strong colors and the other is blue.

There will also be the option to buy additional faceplates. Initially they will offer red and green but if there is enough demand they will make them in any color and pattern, like US flags, British flags, College logos, and whatever people want.

Fablock
You have the option of attaching either case to your belt or purse with their Fablock. This is a clip to attach to a belt and a small nubbin that is screwed into the back of the case that slides into a channel on the clip where it is locked in. A button on the top of the Fablock must be pressed while pulling up on the case in order to remove it. The case can swivel around on the Fablock so you can get it out of the way when you sit down.

This is the best one of these I've seen. The clip is strong and so it the tab that holds the case in the channel. After wearing it around for over a week, it never came close to coming loose from my belt. Add in the good protection provided by the case itself if it did hit the ground and I think you can feel safe wearing it on your belt.

That said, this isn't a fashion accessory. I wore the m5 to eat dinner with some friends, intending to ask them if people wearing cell phones and other gadgets on their belts had reached the point where it no longer looked so geeky. I never got a chance to ask. Before I had even reached the table, my friends started yelling out "Geek!" and asking if I also had a Bat-a-rang in my utility belt.

I'd also exercise caution about wearing any case on your belt while driving. The seatbelt stretches right across the case. In a major accident, your case is going to get jammed into your side with the force of a hammer blow.

Chameleon m5
The version for the Palm m500 series is 4.9 by 3.8 by .8 inches and has a couple of functions designed just for it.

The Palm is held in the case with a pin that fits in the left channel slot. Because you'll have to take the handheld out of the case to perform a HotSync, taking the Palm out of the case needs to be quick and easy. Pulling down on the Palm will remove it and the pin, too, ready to be put in the cradle. To be honest, I didn't get to test this. I'm using a prototype that just has a built-in, non-removable pin.

Inside the cover, under where the Palm sits, is a small slot that holds a spare SD or MMC card.

It has overlapping lips where the two sides join. This gives it a measure of protection from water. I wouldn't go swimming wearing one but I've heard of people having their Palm ruined just from being in a wet backpack.

Chameleon m1
The m1 works with the m100 and m105. The jury is still out on whether it will work with the still rumored m125. It is 5.0 by 3.2 by 1.0 inches.

It has the same rounded shape as the m100 series and offers a window in the front like the m100 series' flipcover. Pressing the Scribble logo on the front presses the Scroll Up button underneath which lets the Palm still be used as a watch without removing it from the case.

The Palm is held in with a pair of plastic pin through from the outside of the case to hold two inner arrowheads that fit into the slots that normally hold the flip cover. This makes removing the stylus difficult so Scribble has thoughtfully provided one on the outside of the case.

Website
Recently, Scribble updated their webstore and the upgrade process wasn't as smooth as might be hoped. I'm mentioning this mostly because when this product was first announced here, we got a flood of complaints from people who had tried to order from them and run into problems. They have contacted everyone who they know tried to order from them during this time. If you tried and haven't heard from them, they ask you to please try again.

Conclusion
Hardcases are a controversial subject. Many people enjoy the extra protection but others complain that the extra bulk isn't worth it. I'd say that the most important requirement for a hardcase is it really needs to protect the handheld. The Palm Graveyard is full of stories from people who only dropped their handheld a few feet. The Chameleon line's ABS plastic case provides the delicate and expensive m505 or m105 some much needed protection. If that is important to you, the m5 or m1 is the way to go.

Article Comments

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Press the logo...

GregGaub @ 8/15/2001 4:34:32 PM #
on the m1 case I had for review, you could press the Scribble logo thing on the front. This has a little nub behind it that presses the scroll button to show the clock in the window. Give that a try. I got mine a while back, so it's possible they removed this feature (it seemed a little flimsy on mine) in favor of better protection.

And, the Chameleon-V fits in the pockets of all the pants I wear... maybe you just have really smally pockets. ;-) But you're right, it doubles the thickness of the device, but the added protection is worth it.

-Greg


RE: Press the logo...
Ed @ 8/15/2001 5:16:30 PM #
Nope, it's still there and thanks for pointing it out. I feel kind of dumb for not noticing it myself. I changed the incorrect paragraph in the article.

I've thought about investing in some pants with cargo pockets. They are in style now (or at least they were the last time I looked) and seem the perfect way to carry around a bulky handheld.

--
News Editor

RE: Press the logo...
EGarrido @ 8/15/2001 6:28:04 PM #
Cargo pants are the way to go for me. I usually carry my 710c in my right regular pocket, my cell phone in one of the cargo pockets, my wallet in the back right pocket, and my keys in the left regular pocket.

I love cargo pants... although we'll just have to see about those new Dockers that are coming out...

Eric Garrido

RE: Press the logo...
Pepper @ 8/15/2001 6:43:33 PM #
Really? Around here cargos seem to have been going out of style. Maybe they aren't, and it's just the not the "hip and trendy teen thing" anymore

-Pepper

I love my Palm . . . do you?

RE: Press the logo...
Spartacus @ 8/15/2001 7:21:30 PM #
I bought some of the dockers new mobile pants and they're really cool. You wouldn't even notice the pockets if you didn't know they were there. $52 each but worth it.

Dockers Mobile Pant
MadMax @ 8/15/2001 11:08:12 PM #
OK, a little off topic but, Bay Area Sears stores have the Dockers Mobile Pant on sale for $34.99.
I believe all pants will be made this way in the not too distant future.

MM

RE: Dockers Mobile Pant
Ed @ 8/15/2001 11:13:20 PM #
I saw an ad for these on TV tonight during prime time. Looks like they are going to push them pretty hard.

---
News Editor
RE: Press the logo...
Pepper @ 8/16/2001 9:22:52 AM #
Wow, this is actually pretty amazing. We've been able to hold an entire dscussion about something and every single poster so far has been logged in. Kinda cool.

And look folks, no flames!

-Pepper

BTW: Ed/Ryan you guys should consider requiring regstration to post . . .

I love my Palm . . . do you?

RE: Press the logo...
Guy @ 8/17/2001 5:31:04 AM #
Hi

I'm not going to wade into the one about cargo pants (you know we all wear a tophat and tails over here in the UK).

Just to say that the press-button logo is still very much a feature of our m1 hard cases and a popular one at that.

Since Greg did his review we've added an attachment system to the case and sorted out the logo button - you should find it more sturdy now. We also changed the colours and they look a lot better (people tell us).

Thanks for reading.

Guy. www.ScribblePDA.com

Requiring to post......
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/17/2001 6:01:56 PM #
What would that do? So you would know exactly who was flaming who? Really, requiring to post would cause more problems then we already have.

RE: Press the logo...
palmist500 @ 9/20/2001 8:32:52 AM #
quote: "Cargo pants are the way to go for me."

What color are yours? :D

---------------------------
"May the Palm be with You"

Scribble Chameleon m5 and m1 Hardcases

Iain @ 8/18/2001 4:36:23 PM #
I have an M1 case for my M105 and am very impressed with it. Yes it does make it bulkier, but it is still able to fit into my pocket and the addded size is a small price to pay for the protection it provides.

I have had a hardcase for my Psion 5mx for almost 2 years and it has saved my Psion from damage on many occasions.

If you want to protect your Palm forget about what it looks like and buy one of these cases, they are great.

Iain

RE: Scribble Chameleon m5 and m1 Hardcases
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/20/2001 8:45:20 AM #
I have a 5mx and Revo Plus. Are you talking about the soft or hard case?

RE: Scribble Chameleon m5 and m1 Hardcases
Iain @ 8/20/2001 4:01:41 PM #
The hardcases! They are excellent and can withstand quite hard knocks. As I said, I have had the one for my Psion 5mx for 2 years and it has undoubtedly saved it many times.

Iain

I don't like being ignored!

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/28/2001 10:30:54 AM #
I e-mailed the guys over at Scribble TWICE! mind you, asking them if the Chameleon for the Palm Vx would fit in a regular shirt pocket.. Both times I never recieved a response! I gave them a couple of days to respond, so it isn't like I wanted an immediate answer. If they can't even answer a simple email, I will take my business elsewhere. They can take their British Stuffiness and ......

RE: I don't like being ignored!
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/26/2002 11:09:26 AM #
They would not know your 'regular' shirt pocket size...really you Americans are so...

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