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Palm Treo Hardcase Review

Palm Treo Hard Case Reviewby: Kris Keilhack
June 22nd, 2006

I’ve long maintained that the original Palm V aluminum hard case is the best handheld enclosure ever produced. With a newly acquired 'naked' Treo 700p in my pocket I set out to find another case (preferably one I could obtain locally at retail) that had the style, sturdiness, and sleekness of that old V-series case.

Styling & Availability
Lost amidst the hoopla surrounding the launch of the Treo 700p were several new Palm-branded peripherals. The one that caught my eye on www.palm.com was this new Palm Treo hard case. I immediately noticed its bright orange packaging as well as a chromed version of the new "Palm" branding and logo. I purchased it at a local Computer chain store for the princely sum of $39.99 and began using it immediately to see if I had the makings of another Palm-branded hardcase legend in my hands.

Case Design & Construction
Palm’s website states that this case is made from polycarbonate so I felt certain it would be both strong and lightweight. Palm also claims compatibility with all flavors of Treo 650s and 700s. Upon opening the package I was relieved to see that a strong latch mechanism kept the case securely shut. In my past experience with metal PDA cases (RhinoSkin T3, PalmOne Zire 72) case closure was achieved by merely overlapping two nubs of metal that usually became bent over time. This case definitely seems to a latch designed to last give its owner a lifespan measured in years instead of months!

Palm Treo hard case review Palm Treo hardcase review

I was dismayed to find out that the case did not open more than ~45 degrees. Inserting and removing the Treo becomes a “drop the Treo in, drop the Treo out” routine. Also distressing was the utter lack of a way to secure the Treo to the interior of the case. Of course a handy user could work wonders with a knife and some adhesive Velcro but I’d rather see some sort of clasp to hold the Treo down within the case.

This is definitely a “carrying” case as opposed to a “live-in” case--the Treo has to be removed from the case every time it is used. This aspect alone is something of a letdown compared to the fantastic old Palm V case.

The interior lining seems to be the standard glued-in foam/neoprene interior lining used by many hardcases. No complaints here. I was dismayed to see that despite the case’s thickness there was not even room for a single SD card or spare stylus in the case.

Palm Treo hard case review Palm Treo hardcase review

Pros:
Again, for a sub-$40 plastic case, build quality seems very high. Everything is nicely molded and I noticed no sharp edges or creaking corners on this case. Even the “snap” of the latch locking sounded pleasant.

The belt clip is a nice touch but it was rather flimsy on the two belts I used for testing. Honestly, this thing is just too big to carry on one’s belt on a daily basis. I was very glad to see that Palm designed the belt clip to be easily removable. I never missed it once it had been removed.

Palm has come a long way since the dark days of the peeling blue Zire 72 paint. This is the same case that comes bundled with the 10th anniversary Black Tie Treo 650 and its exterior finish is befitting of something commemorating Palm’s decade in the industry. The case was an absolute joy to "fondle". Even sweaty hands posed no problems. While I haven’t had the case long enough it seems like the coating would repel moisture and hold up over time. For a comparison this material seems identical to what Motorola uses on their V325 cell phone or what is on the back of last year’s LifeDrive aluminum case.

Cons:
In addition to the weak belt clip and the Three main factors kept me from being instantly won over with this case:

  • The lack of any means to charge my Treo while in the case. Since my time with the hard case predated the arrival of my Seidio 2400mAh battery I found myself having to remove the Treo from the case in order to plug it into my car charger. Not a fun thing to do three times per day. I also would like to see the headset jack exposed. Given the excellent overall rigidity of the case I think Palm’s engineers could have permitted two small cutouts on the bottom of the case.
  • Secondly, the is no way to secure the Treo within the case. I nearly lost my Treo when trying to answer a call while carrying a bag. Opening the case is a decidedly two-handed affair. Removing the Treo from the case also requires both hands. I also had two or three instances where I ended my call and, due to being in a huge hurry, just stuffed the “naked” Treo back into my pants pocket rattling alongside the empty hard case
  • Finally, the case is just a tad on the thick side. I know this is a case designed for complete security but it was just a bit too thick to pocket with any Its girth combined with the rubberized coating on the exterior of the unit made it rather difficult to slide in and out of certain trouser pockets.

Palm Treo hard case review Palm Treo hardcase review

Conclusion
IF this case is kept closed most of the time and IF your pockets are big enough to accommodate it and IF you don’t mind using two hands at all times to do any action involving opening, closing or handling the Treo then you might enjoy this product.

Otherwise, unless you’re looking for a solid case that’s smaller than an Otterbox and/or are very active in the course of a workday I’d recommend another style of Treo case. There are simply too many compromises here to be worth $40.

So the Palm V case-especially the limited edition anodized blue version-remains undefeated by numerous challengers in its six+ year reign. A pity, as this new Palm hard case was initially very impressive in several areas. It just ended up rather under whelming in daily usage.

Overall rating: 2.5 / 5 - Palm Software 2.5 / 5 stars

Price: $39.95 USD
Palm Treo Hard case (compatible with Treo 600, 650, 700p, 700w)

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respectfully, I disagree

canladdie @ 6/22/2006 5:24:26 AM # Q
Respectfully, I disagree with several of your points.
I do not have issues with having to take the Treo out of the case to use it. I spent five minutes repetitively practicing taking the Treo in and out of the case, but once the pattern was engraved in my muscle memory, no problems. (I did have to practice closing the empty case, though. In seven years, I have only once dropped a Palm while carrying it in my hand. (I dropped a IIIxe onto streetcar tracks while leaping over a snowbank ... I slipped on landing, threw my hands up for balance, and flung the IIIxe onto the road where a passing vehicle ran over the Palm but not me. The IIIxe actually worked after that, though the screen was cracked beyond use ... I don’t jump snowbanks while carrying my Treo in my hands anymore.) I am much more concerned about having my Palm knocked off my belt, which it has been using various belt clips, falling unprotected to the ground. My Treo bears three scratches from three such events just in the last month. This Palm Hard Case (with clip as modified — see below) is absolutely secure. I was initially wary of accidentally opening the case by touching the top opening clip, but so far that has not happened.
I wear the Palm Treo Hard Case case on my belt, and find it very compact and smooth in comparison to Seidio belt clips and especially my Vaja case, which sticks out far too far, and also does nothing to protect the screen or keyboard. (I did make one significant modification to the Hard Case clip, bending the tip of the clip so that it curves into the case and securely locks the case onto my belt. That doesn’t change the size of the case but does secure it totally.) Since dropping my IIIxe, I have relied mainly on homemade leather pouches. Nice and craftsy, but bulky and since they are not hard, they do not secure the Treo keyboard. I am very impressed at how this slim Hard Case very effiently protects both screen and keyboard.
My only reservation is the antenna sticking out of the case. However, even though I wear the case on my left side, with the antenna therefore sticking out where my left arm could catch it, because the case is so compact, that has actually not happened yet. If it does happen, I’ll switch to wearing the case on my right side.
So I am very happy with this Palm Treo Hard Case. Four point five stars.


RE: respectfully, I disagree
hkklife @ 6/22/2006 11:18:52 AM # Q
Hey no problems with anyone disagreeing with my points. Remember I just stated one individual's opinion of the case.

I am actually contemplating doing a two-case Treo strategy--a softer/thinner leather or silicone "skin" case for daily office use and then the Palm Hard Case for when I am going to be doing "heavy duty" stuff (moving furniture, working around the house etc) and need to keep my Treo close at hand.

I think the final rating depends somewhat on each individual user's usage habits and personal preferences, of course. The case is attractive, solidly built, and of fairly high craftsmanship for $40. I just prefer slimmer "pocketable" cases where the Treo does not have to be removed from the case to take or make a call.

I think the Treo formfactor and "phone" functionality generally does NOT lend itself well to the Palm V/m500/Tungsten style hardcases we've grown accustomed to over the pat few years. I think silicone skin cases or leather flip/pouch style cases are a more natural fit with the Treo FF. Anyone else have an opinion?

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

Two-case solutions is best
freakout @ 6/23/2006 5:04:13 AM # Q
I think you're right, hk, in that having both a soft and a hard case is the best way to go. Personally, I've got Palm's 650 leather latch case for general everyday usage and an Innopocket Hard Case, which is exactly what I need when going to gigs - it gets rough in them thar mosh pits - and camping.

I'll post an opinion on the new Palm Hard Case when I get my Black Tie 650. I'll hopefully be hearing back from my U.S. proxy in a few days...

This sig is a placeholder till I come up with something good

RE: respectfully, I disagree
hkklife @ 6/23/2006 11:45:39 AM # Q
Tim;

You replaced a standard GSM Treo 650 with a Black Tie 650....?

All of that money for nothing more than a cosmetic upgrade?

Or is there some elaborate story involved where you ended coming out ahead in the whole deal? ;-)

A headbanger at a gig carrying a Treo...there's a an odd juxtaposition! I was starting to wonder if I would be the only one of those when I go to see Ministry this summer..... ;-)

Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

RE: respectfully, I disagree
freakout @ 6/23/2006 6:19:18 PM # Q
Coming out ahead, I wish! I have a buyer lined up for my current 650 who'll take it for $550; so in theory I should only be out of pocket about 150 - 200 bucks at the current exchange rates. Or the way I'm looking at it, no new console games for me this month. ;) I figure that's a sacrifice worth making. I go nuts for black.

P.S. Ministry rock, man. I love "Jesus Built My Hotrod". Treo is a great gig companion; a screen you can actually read in the pit if need be!, although that's not recommended. ;)

This sig is a placeholder till I come up with something good

Ministry? MINISTRY RULES!!!!
The_Voice_of_Reason @ 6/23/2006 11:51:08 PM # Q
Yeah, I've been listening to them since "Alien" J. was playing that bizarre synthindustrial "back in the day". Land of Rape and Honey is STILL the best album ever recorded by a human.


TVoR

RE: respectfully, I disagree
hkklife @ 6/24/2006 7:09:48 PM # Q
I personally prefer Twitch but LORAH is a very, very close 2nd.



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

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Treo hard case

pedals615 @ 6/25/2006 10:08:22 AM # Q
I also thought of using the two case strategy with my 700p. I work in the security field and love the peace of mind having the Treo protected in the hard case, screen and keyboard and keeping it free from harm due to drops or scratches. I also have a silicone jacket for my Treo.
My only criticism of the hard case is that it is too difficult to put the jacketed Treo in the hard case, the silicone jacket makes the Treo too thick to easily close the hard case. I would like to have the Treo protected out of case by the jacket but it is an either/or situation. I have one of the leather magnetic cases for off work use and the silicone jacket fits in it fine. The jacket is nice for added grip and protection since the Treo itself is so slippery. I have had good results with using eGrips strips to give better traction on the naked Treo as a compromise, the things are so slippery they may as well be a wet bar of soap. Overall the hard case is a good product. Jeff, Treo 700p

RE: Treo hard case
hkklife @ 6/25/2006 5:31:39 PM # Q
I had some EGrips for an older Palm...maybe the T2 or T3. I tried the generic ones applied to the Palm or RhinoSkin or PDAir aluminum case exterior. They peeled off within weeks. I also tried some Egrips on my old Moto V60. They too peeled off or lost their adhesive backing.

What I'd love to see would be a "genuine" Palm produced rubberized (ala 10th anniversary Black Tie 650) replacement battery cover door for the 700 models. I'd also like to see Palm put some gentle ribbing or contours on the silver bands on the side of the Treo ala the old Visors or Motorola's landline cordless telephones.

I wonder if it's possible for someone come up with a an aftermarket plastic housing for the Treos? It'd have to be of reasonably high quality and a bit sturdier & less slippery than the standard one.



Pilot 1000-->Pilot 5000-->PalmPilot Pro-->IIIe-->Vx-->m505-->T|T-->T|T2-->T|C-->T|T3-->T|T5-->TX-->Treo 700P

RE: Treo hard case
4s @ 6/25/2006 6:48:06 PM # Q
I agree about wanting better side grips. I would love something like this: http://www.pocketpctechs.com/main~unit~HP_Compaq_iPAQ_h2210-115~area~repairs~item~I22-SCOV02BLUKIT.htm

<><
Rubberise your Treo side grips
freakout @ 6/28/2006 9:22:09 PM # Q
http://treotricks.blogspot.com/2005/11/how-to-rubberize-treo-650-side.html

If you're got a spare day or two, hk....

http://tinyurl.com/f3lfj

This site also has some great other Treo customisations, including a 3.5mm jack in the antenna stub! and a fix for the somewhat low-quality 2.5mm jack.

Not for the faint of heart!

Tim
I apologise for any and all emoticons that appear in my posts. You may shoot them on sight.
Treo 270 ---> Treo 650

Reply to this comment

How do you open F/Tungsten T5

GNPJRP @ 4/10/2007 10:59:42 AM # Q
It is not at all clear how you open this model of a PDA hard case. It would be quite easy to damage it whilst trying. The only indication is a small triangle on the right hand lip near the centre.

My wife could not manage it and it has taken me about an hour to suss it out - luckily I managed to avoid damaging it in the process

Graham Pickering

How do you open the hard case ?

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