Vaja Custom iPAQ Case Service Review

Product Requirements:
Compaq iPAQ Pocket PC

"Build Your Own Case"… I really like the sound of those words.
They mean that there is an opportunity to create something that will be exactly
the way that you want it. You can pick the color you want, the style that you
want, basically every detail will be just the way you want it to be! Does that
sound cool to you? Judie and I sure thought so!

Ok, here’s yet another insight into the wacko minds of the Gadgeteers:

Julie Strietelmeier… I don’t care about fancy cars or jewelry, but
when it comes to my PDA, I’m totally into the cool stuff.

Judie Clark… I admit it: I am a "Material Girl."  I care about the
latest and coolest accessories for my PDA just as much as I care for fashionable
items that go in my closet. I figure that my PDA is an extension of me – so why
shouldn’t it look fashionable, too?

When Vaja recently
approached us to do a review of their Custom Compaq iPAQ case service, it
didn’t take long to say "yes, yes, yes!" Judie and I both thought
the idea was terrific and figured that these cases could be a big hit.

Before we get started, we do need to say something important about these
cases. They are freakishly expensive! And, that is probably going to be our one
and only complaint about them. The average day-to-day PDA user is not going to
be able to afford them, which is a shame; but we know that these cases will
probably be a big hit with all of the crazy 10%er’s out there, so we had to tell
you about them!

At this time, Vaja is offering nine different iPAQ (other PDAs may come
later) cases that can be built to order. They are as follows:

80SS3 – Custom iPAQ + SS3 (Modified CF Sleeve) case
80SS2 – Custom iPAQ + SS2 (Modified CF Sleeve) case
806 – Custom iPAQ + SS Flip Top case
80W – Custom iPAQ + Whitney CF Sleeve Syncable case
80A – Custom iPAQ plus the CF PAQ with snap closure
804/801 – Custom Sync-able iPAQ case
805 – Custom iPAQ plus CF expansion Sleeve
807 – Custom iPAQ plus PC expansion Sleeve
802 – Custom Sync-able Billfold case for iPAQ with snap closure

Let’s take a brief look at each of the major options available for all cases
and then we’ll look at our experiences with the overall service and the cases we

All of the cases have a group of options that can be customized. Depending on
the option, an additional cost may be associated with it. Some cases may have
more customizable options available than others. For example, all of the cases
allow you to choose the leather color. However, only certain cases allow you to
specify whether or not there is access to the CF or PC card slots. 

Color Combinations:
Vaja now offers a larger variety of colors than ever before. Just to give you
an idea, here are the colors available for the 804/801 Sync-able iPAQ case.

Wow, I’d think most people could find something that would appeal to them in
that group! As you can see, some colors cost extra while others do not.

Closure System:
In this category, you have the choice of either snap or magnets. Both options
have a charge: $5 for the snap and $24 for the magnetic. I feel that one of
these options should be the default and cost $0. It’s not fair that you can’t
NOT pick one of them.

Inside Style:
Now you can choose if you want credit card slots or not, and if you want the
color of the interior lining to match the outside color of the case.

Cover Style:
Along with the previous option, you can also choose the type of screen cover
that you would like on your case. Padded or non-padded. Both versions have the
ABS plastic insert, but the non-padded has no cushioning at all, which keeps the
flip-lid super
slim. The padded cover has a layer of foam rubber between the ABS insert and the
leather. Again, as with the closure options, both of the cover style choices
cost extra. Padded is $8, and non-padded is $6. There’s isn’t a default $0

Backside Style:
Here you can choose if you would like your custom case to have a belt clip.
Vaja appears to have switched from their metal stud belt clip to a new Ultra
clip design. This new option gives a plastic stud on the back of the case and
will cost you an extra $9.90. Fortunately, if you don’t want a belt clip, it
won’t cost you anything extra.

How about putting your company logo or name on your made to order case? I
agree, totally nifty! Embossing your name will run you an extra $15 which really
isn’t too bad. Company logos will set you back $50 which again, would be worth
it if you were going to create quite a few custom cases because you only have to
pay that price once. Logos must be emailed to Vaja in either .cdr, .jpg, .bmp or
.gif formats and this special option will add 7 days to the process. It is
important to note that not all of the leather choices will allow you include
your name or logo. Embossed leathers such as alligator and ostrich are two that
won’t work.

Extra Holes:
Another customization option is the ability to include a cutout for the
headphone jack. Not including one will cost you nothing, but including one will
cost an additional $3.50. Hint, save yourself $3.50 and punch your own hole if
you decide you want one. I personally don’t like the headphone cutout because
the leather is not burnished around the edges (or it hasn’t been in previous
Vaja cases that I’ve seen).

We should also mention that with each custom case, you also get a leather
Vaja bag. These small draw-string bags are great for carrying small accessories;
such as modems, cords, and memory cards.

Judie and I reviewed the custom case creation service using 3 cases and
combination of features. Here are our experiences:


80SS3 – Custom iPAQ + SS3 (Modified CF Sleeve) case

Julie: I knew as soon as I saw this special Silver Slider 3 case, that I had to have
one. The ability to access the CF slot easily while my iPAQ is in the case is a
very attractive feature in my opinion. Note: the SS3 is not included with this
case (although, after you see the price, you will probably think it SHOULD be!).

Visiting their

custom building page
and choosing the options that I wanted was a snap. 
All the choices were easy to understand and didn’t take me more than a couple of
minutes to build my dream case. Here are the features that I chose:

Vitelino Olive
Snap Closure
Credit Card Slots
Slim Cover
No Belt clip
No headphone Cut Out
Embossed Company Logo

I ordered the cases on 8/21/01, and they arrived 17 days later on 9/6/01.

This case is a real beauty. I love the color and with the logo, it just plain
looks cool! I’m not typically a person that likes colored leathers. I like more
natural browns. But this color really is eye catching and attractive.

When the PDA is in this case, you have access to all the buttons and ports. I
didn’t have any problems using my iPAQ and all its features during this review.

The back of the case is specially molded to conform to the SS3 sleeve. There
is a cut out that allows you to remove and insert CF cards while the case is

I chose the slim cover option which is non-padded, but still reinforced with an ABS plastic insert. I
also opted to get 2 card
slots with one larger slot behind them. I really like the slim cover. It makes
the case look and feel smaller while still giving my iPAQ’s display adequate

For the closure method, I went with the snap style: a leather tab with a snap
is used to hold the cover securely closed.

The only trouble that I had with this case is that I couldn’t get it to fit
in the cradle to sync or charge. I’ve been in the practice of removing my PDAs
from their cases to do these activities, so it didn’t bother me at all.

The 80SS3 has been expertly crafted of high quality materials. I didn’t find
any flaws in the stitching or leather. It adds little to the overall size of the
iPAQ,  feels good in your hand and looks terrific. If you want a case that
is made specially for the Silver Slider 3 and have a lot of money, this one might be for you!

Price: $193 as customized

Molded back specially for the SS3.
Slim cover keeps case smaller

Price! Ouch!
Didn’t want to fit in the cradle very well
Did I mention price?


80SS3 – Custom iPAQ plus the CF PAQ with snap closure

Judie: This is easily the coolest case I have ever seen for any PDA. The retro lines
on the flip-lid remind me of the Prada Bowling Bag purses that are so popular,
and the shoes that match. This color combination also makes me think of 1957
Chevy BelAirs. Hey – there’s something here for everyone!

I wanted this particular case not only because I liked how it looked, but
because I knew that it would fit my
Whitney PC BaqPaq.
It was hard to choose which color combination I would be satisfied with, as I
liked the Tan and Ivory, and the Black and Red color options, but I "settled" for
the following:

Cherry Aniline / Ivory
Magnetic Closure
Without Card Slots
Slim Cover
No Belt clip
No headphone Cut Out
Embossed Company Logo


First of all, You should know that this leather is softer than any Vaja case
I have ever owned, and it smell scrumptious! It fits my iPAQ/Whitney PC mod like
a glove, and this is definitely the case I will be using when I want to carry my
2GB DataPak. For those of you that have the unmodified Compact Flash sleeve, you
will also be extremely pleased with the fit.

As with all Vaja cases, attention has been paid to every
detail, and the fit and finish are flawless.
I decided to go without the headphone cut-outs, for two
reasons: Because I never attach my headphones through the hole anyway, and
because the hole always winds up looking sloppy over time as the leather
loosens up and separates. I think that this case looks even better without
the hole, so I am glad I did it this way.



Even though I don’t think I’ll ever use them, I went ahead and got the two
card slots for the inside of the flip-lid. I like that our logo was placed in
this area instead of the front of the case, and I think that the case just
exudes luxury…which for $204, it should.

Honestly, the only gripe I have about this case is that is so ungodly
…but then, I am the same person that spends $600 on a purse
without batting an eye.

If you are that type of person: you want to carry the best, and you don’t
mind paying for it, then this beauty is the case for you.

Price: $181 as customized


Beautiful "Retro" style
Flawless craftsmanship
Completely personalized – I feel like I made this case!


Price, but then….I am worth it!  :0)

80A – Custom iPAQ + SS3 (Modified CF Sleeve) case

Judie: Okay, the truth of the matter is that I probably would have got
the Olive SS3 case, but Julie beat me to it. So I thought, what is a totally fun
color that I would not ordinarily buy? Well, fuchsia – or hot pink 
– just sprang to mind.

Here are the options that I chose for this case:

Vitelino Fuchsia
Snap Closure
Without Card Slots
Slim Cover
No Belt clip
No headphone Cut Out
Embossed Company Logo


I was impressed because this case fit so smoothly over the SS3’s contours, I
noticed no wrinkles or gaps.

You can not imagine the number of compliments I have received over this case,
especially from my female friends. I think that we have all grown so accustomed
to carrying a drab PDA case – even if it was made out of the finest available
materials; so seeing something so bright and colorful is a treat!

I did manage to sync my iPAQ while it was in the case, but I have to say that
like Julie, I prefer removing my iPAQ and sleeve from the case before I insert
it in the cradle. If for no other reason than because I don’t want to take the
chance of scratching up the sides of such a costly accessory!

The only quibble I have about this case, and I hate to even bring it up, is
the fact that I ordered the snap closure, and instead I received the magnetic.
Granted, I did get a $24 option for $5; but I generally don’t like magnetic
closures as much as the snapping type – they just don’t seem as secure to me. I
will say that the magnets in this case seem to hold quite strongly though, so my
reservations in this instance were unfounded. I should also point out that due
to past experience with Vaja, I know that if I had written them about the
discrepancy, they would have been quick to correct the issue. Since I am
actually quite happy with the "error", I’ll keep my mouth shut.

I also chose the slim cover option for this case, but I opted to not get any
card slots. I’m glad I didn’t – this case is so sleek, it’s easily the thinnest
case available for the SS3 and iPAQ combination.

It is amazing when you consider the craftsmanship that goes into every Vaja
case. Since you get to pick out the features to add or subtract on these custom
cases, you truly get an item that not many else will own. That in itself is a
satisfying feeling.

Price: $185 as customized


Custom fitted to accept the SS3
Beautiful Colors
Excellent Craftsmanship
There is truly something to be said about being allowed to customize to your

Pricey, but then – you only live once!

Overall, Judie and I found the custom ordering process to be easy and without problems.
Their website is easy to navigate and all options are clear and understandable.

We think it
is safe to say that Vaja is currently the
PDA case maker on the scene. They create new cases faster than everyone else and
are totally open to innovative solutions such as the Silver Slider and Whitney
cases. We’re just hoping that Vaja will consider modifying their pricing
structures to allow more people to buy them. As it is now, we’re afraid that
only people with trust funds can afford them. We can understand that custom
features equals $$’s, we just think that the $$’s are too high.

8 thoughts on “Vaja Custom iPAQ Case Service Review”

  1. That’s a pretty slick looking watch. I’ve always been a big fan of Timex watches because they are fairly inexpensive and seem to hold up well. I was this close to buying one of their pager watches a few years ago but just couldn’t get past the ‘clunkiness’ of it. The thing was a brick! After reading your review I began to wonder what new stuff Timex has these days. You need to check out the Timex Speedpass watches. Very Gadgeteer worthy…

    Keep up the good work.

  2. so its about a year and a half later. do you still have your watch? how is it running? 😮

    i’m thinking of ordering one for myself off the Projects website 🙂

  3. I read about the Timex speedpass watch. I just installed a Pluto Home smarthome/media server system ( It has a ‘follow-me’ feature where when you enter a room, your Bluetooth mobile phone turns into a remote control for the stuff in that room, and your preferences will follow you around the house. For example, each family member’s music, lighting, etc., follows them.

    The only problem is it requires a Bluetooth detector in each room (which for now still means putting in a pc), and the recognition isn’t instant—it can take 10 seconds or so for the phone to be recognized before your media and other stuff comes on in that room. I’m pretty technically inclined and would like to put some readers around the house, and then get some of those Timex speedpass watches. It looks trivial to do—Pluto already has all the code to do it, I just need to create a device that fires the same events—a couple hours work. The problem is Timex doesn’t seem to be selling the watches anymore, and I don’t know where to get a reader that has a usb/rs232 port on it. Do you have any ideas where I can get more watches, or those readers? Anybody else doing this?

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