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Scribble Chameleon m5 and m1 Hardcases Review
By Ed Hardy
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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