Rhodiana iPAQ Cases Review

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For the Compaq iPAQ

Right up front, I will tell you that the Rhodiana
cases make me think of the years when my husband was a Security Specialist in the
US Air Force. He had a gear belt that was loaded with items that looked like
they were well protected in their holsters – which were made of this same
material: ballistic nylon.

Judging by how those cases held up to the abuse that they were given while
Byron was on the ABGD (Air Base Ground Defense) team; I would say that the
Rhodiana cases might just be as tough. Since I assume that you are not likely to
be out digging foxholes, creeping through the woods at night with an M-16 by
your side, or rehearsing “assault on defended position” exercises;
this case should easily be tough enough to get you through a day of typical
urban warfare….


Based on things I have heard and seen about this line of cases, I was eager
to give Rhodiana a try for protecting my iPAQ.
Well, I wasn’t disappointed in the materials or the craftsmanship used for
producing the two cases I was presented with. These are very tough cases, they
certainly look ready to take on whatever abuse your daily grind might have to

The flavor of the Rhodiana is utilitarian, and as I mentioned before, a bit
militaristic. I would not be surprised if I saw someone on a SWAT team carrying
this case, if he wanted to tote his iPAQ around with him – but I could also see
a businessman that liked to look like an individual using it, also.

The cases are black, and extremely well made. The pattern of the black
ballistic nylon is a very tightly woven cross-hatch, with what looks like a
nylon grosgrain trim. The stitching is also black and perfectly spaced. I found
no loose strings, or other obvious quality defects anywhere, on either Rhodiana.
They both fit the iPAQ very snugly, and securely.

rhodia2  rhodia3

To insert your iPAQ into either case, you undo the heavy duty black snaps on
the backside, which open up the nylon taffeta lined compartment that your iPAQ
will nest in. As you can see, there is a blue Rhodiana label directly above the
snaps. I like this label, as it is discreet and simple.


A rolled, finished edge, which sticks out by approx .33″ (8.39mm)
surrounds the face of your inserted iPAQ. When the flip-lid is closed, it fits
into this space and slightly rests against the screen of your PDA. It feels like
there is some sort of support inside the rolled sides. I can feel a 3.75″
(95.25 mm) rod, possibly metal, in each side by folding back the material when
the Rhodiana is empty.

rhodia5  rhodia51

The front of both cases features a male/female plastic clip for closure. This
is similar to the type of system used on some military style web belts that I
have seen. While I like the idea of the clip being used instead of Velcro, I am
also concerned that the clip might not hold up over time. It is made with
flexible sides that insert into the receiving end. My fears may be completely
unfounded, as the clips have not shown any sign of weakening while I tested
them; it may rather just a distrust for thin plastic on my part.


I do think that someone with really large hands might have a bit of trouble
pinching the clips to open the case. I would be interested in hearing from
others, as to whether they have found this to be the situation or not…

Both cases have a  .18″ (4.58mm) padded flip cover into which you
can insert an optional Lexan stiffener ($2.00), for even more protection. Since
there is a clear flexible plastic window in the flip-lid, it is also suitable
for stowing your ID or business card.


The design of the Rhodiana cases is such that they appear to be two fitted
pieces of black ballistic material held together by a strip of flexible plastic
that holds the iPAQ in place. When the snaps are closed, locking in the iPAQ,
the case becomes a solid single unit.


This piece of plastic has its good points and bad: Obviously, since it is
see-through, it is almost as if it’s not there. You can still see the Infrared port, microphone hole,
and all of the
buttons, etc, on the top of your iPAQ. Being
see-through, the plastic does not interfere with the iPAQ’s light sensor. rhodia12

Although the microphone opening is covered with this layer of flexible
plastic, I still was able to make voice recordings that were clear and
un-garbled. The actual recorder button on the left side of the iPAQ is covered
by the case, but it is easy to activate by squeezing in its general

One thing that puzzled me with both cases, was the lack of access to the
headphone jack. There is no cut out on the left side to allow plugging it in. I
realize that it would not be too big of a deal to take a hole-punch and create
the necessary hole – but personally, I am leery of modifying a case that I have
spent more than $10 on. The way my luck can sometimes run – I would put such a
horribly off-centered hole into the plastic that it would be better if I had
never attempted the modification. :0)


Both cases allow access to the charging hole on the bottom of the iPAQ, in
theory…unfortunately, I was not able to actually connect the charging cable
into the bottom of the iPAQ through either case – because the grosgrain trim was in the way. Pushing
and pulling at the material had no effect, so unless it was just a defect of my
case, it would require a larger hole in order to use the charging cable with
either case.


While it is impossible to active-sync in the cradle while your iPAQ is
inserted in either Rhodiana case; there is an opening so that you could attach a
sync-cable, instead.

This might be something for you to seriously consider if
the Rhodiana were to become your everyday case. Due to the extremely snug fit,
it is not easy to just “pop” the iPAQ in and out of the case, and the effort it takes to get the stiff
snaps closed may make you cuss the first couple of times. The bad news is that this
active-sync cable will set you back $49, if you buy
it from Compaq
There is also the issue of making the charging hole larger so that you don’t
have to remove your iPAQ every time a charge is necessary, either.

Rhodiana cases feature a unique elastic strap system on their back, that
makes it possible for either a right or left handed person to get a firm grip on
their PDA. This is a feature that will not appeal to everyone – but it
definitely has it’s merits. When you have your hand inserted in the straps,
there is just about no chance that you could possibly drop your PDA.


I gave this strap system a severe work-out the other day while I was
witnessing oil & gas well tests with a Conoco well-tester. I was in the
middle of nowhere, using my iPAQ to notate all of the necessary adjustments and
calibrations inherent to the well-testing procedure, and with my left hand
hooked through the Rhodiana’s straps, I was never in fear for the safety of my
iPAQ – even with the gusty West Texas winds we being pummeled with. I was using
my iPAQ in Landscape instead of Portrait mode, and the case was still
comfortable to hold.

If you simply can’t stand the straps…the good news is that you can cut them
off, without making the case look like something is missing. The elastic straps’
ends go into the seams, and the slight bit of overhang from the grosgrain trim
would hide any rough edges you might leave after trimming.

The cases I reviewed were both belt-clip models. The truth is, I really am
not a big fan of putting things on my belt. I do wear my SportBrain
everyday, but I feel like the weight of any PDA is more than I want to carry,
when I have a gear bag that does the job so well. The iPAQ with PC Card
Sleeve attached is just way bigger than anything I could ever even imagine
hooking to my belt.

With my iPAQ & PC Card Sleeve in the Rhodiana, I felt like I was Laura Croft
– I just needed a couple guns and a vine to swing from…


I realize that for most of you men,  a gear bag is not an option. So by
necessity or preference, you are forced to find a case that can securely and
comfortably fit on your “bat-belt”. Well, one of the interesting
features to the Rhodiana, is that the case hangs in such a way that your PDA is
upside down. This seemed really freaky at first, but I figured I’d put it on my
belt, and see it there were any benefits to this type of system. Well, there

With the Rhodiana clipped to my belt, I was able to un-fasten the flip-lid
clip, and access my iPAQ’s screen – with it facing me in the correct direction,
yet still clipped on my belt.
This is a great way to check an address or a meeting time quickly, by simply
dropping the lid and taking a look. This wouldn’t be comfortable for long
periods of time, as you are slightly hunched over your side while looking at the
PDA in this manner; but if you want to access your PDA  without removing it
from your belt, this is a way in which you can.


Like many belt-clip systems, the Rhodiana’s is such that there is a black
plastic nub affixed onto the back of the case, which can easily be attached or
detached from the black plastic belt-clip.


The clip can accommodate up to a 1 1/2″ (38.10mm) belt. The Rhodiana’s
belt-clip itself is a little different than any I have seen to date. There is a
plastic plunger at the top of the clip, that when pressed, will retract the
plastic hook that locks to the .5″x .22″ ( 12.72x 5.84mm) nub onto the
back of the Rhodiana case.


It seems like a sturdy system – I compared it to a Vaja clip, and decided
that it actually felt a little bit more “solid” to me. I tried shaking
and jarring the case off of the belt clip while the whole combo was attached to
my belt. I was unsuccessful.

The part of the
clip that hooks to your belt has quite a bit of tension to it; and while it may
loosen up over time, it felt very secure and tight to me when I tested it.

This case seems to do a great job of protecting my iPAQ. While it does add
some thickness to the already corpulent iPAQ when encased in the PC Card Sleeve,
it is not too bad. I’ll show a table at the end of the review to give you an
idea of naked & encased measurements.

Those are the similarities between the two cases. Being that they are for
different uses of the iPAQ, sleeved and un-sleeved, there are certainly enough
differences that they warrant their own sections to the review. With that said,
we shall begin…

Rhodiana  Naked iPAQ Case:

Product Requirements:
Compaq iPAQ with no expansion sleeves installed

The Naked iPAQ Case has a cut out for removing your stylus from the silo.
This is a trimmed “indention” into the side of the plastic that holds
the iPAQ in place. I suppose that you could cut the other side out to allow
access to the head-phone jack, as none is provided by Rhodiana.


The stylus release button is covered by the flexible plastic, but it works
just fine when you press it, anyway. There is a cutout for the Infrared port.

The hole that was cut into the plastic for the power button was not quite
lined up properly on my case. I think that Rhodiana could have gotten away with
not even putting a hole there in the first place, as it is easy enough to press
the general area and turn the iPAQ on.


There is not an extra millimeter available in the naked case. I found this
out the hard way. Just to check – I decided to try this case with the iPAQ &
GM’s Silver Slider. Bad idea! Not only
does it not fit – but my Silver Slider got stuck in there, and in the process
of removing the it from the case, I wound up shooting my Silver Slider across the room! I
almost had a heart attack! Thankfully, the Silver Slider worked just fine when I
re-installed it… <whew!!>

The naked case fits so tightly that if you squeeze the left side of the case
inches away from the recorder button, you will turn it on. I found it necessary
to re-map the button, because the “beep” announcing the recorder was
driving me nuts every time I accidentally put pressure on the left side of the

One convenient feature to this version of the Rhodiana, is that there is an extra ballistic
nylon flap that can either be left covering the iPAQ’s sync-port, or can be
moved out of the way to enable syncing with a cable.


Rhodiana  iPAQ with Flash Card Sleeve Case:

Product Requirements:
Compaq iPAQ with PC Card expansion sleeve installed

Due to the nature of the way that the case holds the iPAQ in, if you are a
frequent card-swapper, you will have to unsnap the case every time you want to
do this. This wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but the snaps are so tight that it
really can be a pain. I am hoping that the snaps might loosen up a bit over


There are no cut-outs in the plastic on the top of the iPAQ, but there is a
perfectly centered cut-out over the power button.  I am curious as to why
Rhodiana decided to not allow access to the stock stylus at all, and instead
sewed a grosgrain stylus holder on the side. Once again, I suppose you could do
the modification yourself to allow access.


The good thing, is that if you have an after-market stylus that you prefer
using with your iPAQ, you might be able to fit it in the side stylus holster.

There is no cut out for the Infrared port, however none is necessary. I
beamed an address to my Palm m100 (using Peacemaker
), and had no trouble connecting.

Comparisons in Size:

Height Width Thickness (w/o belt-clip)

Naked iPAQ

5.12″ (130.15mm) 3.11″ (78.93mm) .64″ (16.33mm)
Naked iPAQ in Rhodiana 5.58″ (141.74mm) 3.44″ (87.29mm) 1.32″ (33.49mm)
iPAQ with Flash Card Sleeve 5.17″ (131.30mm) 3.41″ (86.70mm) 1.33″ (33.82mm)
iPAQ with Flash Card Sleeve in Rhodiana 5.5″ (139.65mm) 3.69″ (93.63mm) 1.9″ (48.26mm)


While there are some issues about the Rhodiana cases that I am not too happy
with – such as the missing stylus hole on the Flash Card case, and the missing
headphone jack hole on both cases; there is no question in my mind that these
cases are made of quality materials and should survive treatment that would make
other cases fall apart.

I think that the pros and the cons can be made to balance – IF you are not
adverse to removing your case to active-sync, and IF you don’t mind performing a
few modifications to the plastic strip.

If your lifestyle or job demands a case with this type of protection and
durability, then I think you could be very happy with the Rhodiana.

Naked iPAQ Case: $39.75 / Also available without swivel clip for

iPAQ w/Flash Card Sleeve Case: $41.75 / Also available without swivel
clip for $32.50
Additional Lexan screen stiffener available for $2.00 – will work with either

Both Cases:
No Velcro

Quality Materials and craftsmanship

Offers adequate insulation & padding to protect against most mishaps

Elastic system assures firm grip on iPAQ
Can use sync cable while iPAQ is in case

Naked iPAQ Case Specifically:
Built in flap that can cover sync port

iPAQ w/Flash Card Sleeve Case Specifically:
Can store a stylus on the side – does not have to be stock stylus

Both Cases:
Must remove from case to active-sync in cradle
Must remove from case to charge
Can’t access headphone jack without modifying case
There is no access to the reset button

Naked iPAQ Case Specifically:
Cut-out for On/Off is not centered – could probably do without it at all
Any pressure on left side of case will activate the record button

iPAQ w/Flash Card Sleeve Case Specifically:
No top stylus access
Must unsnap case to swap cards


Product Information


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