Smart Phone Experts UltraSlim Pocket Pouch ReviewBy: Kris Keilhack
November 16, 2006
Overview, Pricing, & Availability
I first saw this pouch-style case I was intrigued by its sleek design. I had been carrying a “naked” Treo around for the better part of the past five months, after trying and returning two Palm cases, a Rhinoskin aluminum case, and a Speck leather case. I had already considered, then rejected plans to purchae a Vaja I-volution Treo case based on its relative thickness.
I ordered the Smart Phone Experts UltraSlim Pocket Pouch case after it became available for $34.95, paying the $15.95 for next-day USPS Air shipping so I’d have it in time to use and evaluate over the weekend. While brown and red case colors are thankfully available, I chose the perpetually trendy black to match my wallet.
My case arrived in a padded manila bubble envelope in a very timely manner. The actual case was contained within a poly “bag” sort of pouch with the SPE logo silk-screened on it. I thought this was a nice extra touch and could serve as a handy “Treo junk” accessory bag for frequent travelers. Overall the packaging is a no-frills affair but it did the job of getting the case to me in superb condition via the US Postal Service.
Case Design & Construction
I immediately began the usual fondling and tactile assessment of the case. I was very pleased to find soft sheepskin leather surrounding all sides of the case, just as the website description had promised. One odd twist was that the leather used on one side of the case is softer and has a gentler feel than the other side of the case. Since the case lacks distinct “front” and “rear” panels, I just chalked this up to a manufacturing aberration. Indeed, one side of the case is beginning to show more surface scratches than the other side. The leather reinforcement band that connects the two halves of the shell appears very well crafted. I found no loose stitching upon my initial assessment nor has any thread come loose with heavy daily usage of the case over the past several weeks. One touch that would be nice to see on a 2nd generation case would be contrasting colored stitching. White stitching against black leather or black stitching against brown leather would make for a subtly striking appearance. The felt interior lining does attract its fair share of pocket debris and fluff but it’s a welcome small touch to keep the Treo’s screen in good shape.
My greatest complaint with the case is two-fold: I was expecting something with a snugger fit, which the photos on the Treonauts.com online store really seemed to hint at. While I realize that a bit of wiggle room had to be left on all sides of the Treos in order to avoid accidental pushing of keys and subsequent battery drain, my Treo still rattles if I shake it while it’s in the case. At the very least, the sides of the case could stand to be a bit tighter in my personal opinion. One time my Treo nearly went flying when I removed the case from my pocket while walking. I’ve since learned to squeeze the sides of the case when de-pocketing the Treo and then sort of squeezing the Treo out of the case and into my other hand. That’s a very cumbersome maneuver to accomplish while driving or walking!
My other chief complaint is more of a personal preference in that, similar to the above complaint, I’d love to see the added security of some kind of strap across the top of the Treo. Between the hazards posed by the external antenna and the exposed SD card slot on the 600/650/700 Treos, having a pouch-style case adds an entirely new element of risk. I think a small Velcro-secured band or a button snap would go a long way towards keeping the Treo in the case while minimizing additional weight and size.
With the launch of the Treo 680 imminent and the 750v already available in some countries, this case’s design will have to be modified slightly to accommodate the moderately more svelte dimensions in these new antenna-less Treo formfactors. As it stands currently, the 700p/w/wx are ideal fits for this case and the Treo 600 and 650 should work fine with it. New Treo 750 and 680 customers should look elsewhere for a more secure case design.
- Great quality construction with nice lambskin leather
- Available in three different colors
- Slim, light, and sturdy. Did I mention it doesn’t add much bulk to the Treo?
- Relatively reasonably priced compared to Sena or Vaja cases.
- Treo rattles around inside the case. I’d prefer a snugger fit.
- No means of securing the Treo at the top of the case.
- Not a replacement for a metal hardcase during physical activity or in risky environments.
Well, it’s rather difficult to summarize my feelings toward this case. Usually I am let down by the aesthetics and pocketability of a case but feel that they do an excellent job of keeping my Treo safe and secure. With this sleek little number, I love the look and feel but I have to pause and pay attention when I remove the Treo from my pocket lest it slide right out of the case. I then have to make sure that I drop the thing into my pocket with the antenna facing up so it’s in the proper orientation the next time I go to use it. This can be a huge issue when wearing something with large pockets like cargo shorts.
For the time being I am using this one as my daily case but if I go hiking or on an extended trek, I will be sure to take my Treo hardcase and leave the SPE pouch case at home. This case is a prime candidate for near-perfection if it can receive a few tweaks and some sort of top-mounted strap in its 2nd generation.
My overall rating: 3 / 5