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Vaja Clié N610 Case Review
By Rod Dunn
The Vaja Clié N610 Case is a leather case specially designed for the N610 model and its unique jog dial/back button placement. This case is available with some design options, including options for color and belt clip.
This is probably a high-risk, high-reward type of look; some will love it and some will hate it. During the time I had the case to review, I asked almost everyone to give me their first impressions. Some absolutely loved it and thought it looked stylish, while others compared it to bowling shoes or a purse. It definitely has sort of a retro look.
The good news about the Vaja cases is that there are many different options for the styling. While all cases from this particular model will have the hourglass-shaped leather pieces, it is also available in all brown or all black, and the solid color cases would definitely draw less attention.
Ignoring the color for a moment, the case just looks and feels classy. There’s nothing like the look and feel of high-quality leather. And the case just feels well put together. I can’t imagine any Vaja owner having their case fall apart on them.
I think the feature that most Clié owners need access to on a consistent basis is the jog dial / back button area. The Vaja case does allow access to these buttons, but this is one area that they should have spent some more time on in the design process. The shape of the Clié makes access to these buttons while in a case fairly hard, since the sides of the Clié taper in going from front to back. The jog dial and back buttons are located on the part of the side that is set back. Because of this and because Vaja cut the case to have an opening as small as possible, using these buttons can be frustrating. You can touch the jog dial, but barely, so sometimes you whiff when trying to spin it. Pushing the jog dial or back button in is also hard, since you’re pushing both the button and the leather around it. I would have rather seen them make a bigger opening, or even better, have the side of the case be fully open until a little below the back button. This would have provided almost the same protection while still allowing proper access to these buttons.
The top of the Clié, which contains the stylus port, IR, and Memory Stick slot, is fully available when the case is open. When the case is closed, all of these slots are completely covered, so you don’t have to worry about the loose Clié stylus or Memory Stick flying out when you’re not looking.
The opening for the power button has many of the same issues as the jog dial/back button openings; the opening is too close to the same size as the button to provide very good access. However, this wasn’t as big of a deal for me on the power button, since you turn off the Clié a lot less often than you use the jog dial and you can just press down hard to do the trick.
The case also has two other very convenient openings. The first is for the HotSync/power connector. If you have purchased a separate travel sync/charge cable for the N610C, it fits on the connector easily without having to remove the case. However, you can not sync the Clié in its cradle or use it with a keyboard with the case on.
Sliding the Clié out of this case wasn’t a huge deal, though it was a bit of a tight fit. I would imagine that this would improve over time as the leather got broken in.
The second useful opening is a small circle in the back that allows access to the reset button. While my reset button was not perfectly aligned in the hole, it was covered by the hole and provided access without a problem.
Vaja also added some very functional slots to the padded case cover. There are two credit-card sized slots in the cover, in front of a small pocket. I was able to easily fit a credit card and business cards into the two slots. The fit was a bit tight, but this is probably a good thing since you wouldn’t want your credit card falling out too easily. The small pocket behind these slots is billed by Vaja as a money slot, though I don’t think you could fit too much money in there, and any money would need to be folded. This would be a very convenient spot to store some extra change, a key, or even some memory sticks.
The last feature of this case is the "ultra" clip. You can order the case with or without the clip. Since I’m usually the kind of guy who carries my Clié in my front pants pocket, I wasn’t real excited about receiving a case with a clip. However, I’ve warmed up to the clip a lot while testing it out. First, it has a different design than some similar cell phone clips that I’ve used in the past. They changed the design of the post that the clip connects to so that it is impossible to get the clip on or off while the clip is pointed in the same direction of the case. For idiots like me, they should maybe include some documentation about this. I was trying to force the clip on, convinced it was broken, before my wife suggested that I try turning the clip sideways, where it slipped on with ease. Doh!!
Because of this design, it is much easier to attach/detach the clip that the other clips I’ve tried because they didn’t have to worry about the case accidentally coming off the clip when the bottom of the case hit something, such as when you sat down. With the clip off, the post is surprisingly discrete. I really couldn’t feel it when sliding the case into my pocket. It’s like having the best of both worlds; the clip is available when you need it, and not intrusive when you don’t.
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