PDAs of dimensions 5 1/4 x 3 1/4"
When I was at Fall Comdex 2001 I saw a new
RhinoSkin case that practically had me salivating. A nice front flip up case
that used elastic plastic rings to hold III-style devices in place, the Molded
EVA Foam Sportcase was calling my name.
Unfortunately it didn’t come home with me. Luckily I was able to get one
later to review. Unfortunately it was a disappointment.
At 5.6 x 3.5 x 1.35 inches and weighing 3.2 ounces with the belt clip, this
case is not small or particularly light. It adds a good inch to the length of a
III-style device and almost exactly doubles its thickness. If you like thin and
trim this case isn’t for you.
Made of lightweight EVA foam covered in a light woven black stretched lycra,
the case has a clamshell style. A small strap with a snap slides around the
bottom of the case to the back to hold the case closed. The front has some
sculpting to give the case a more interesting look, and there is a large plastic
button with the RhinoSkin logo on it. It’s fairly nice looking, in a sporty way.
The inside of the case resembles a dugout canoe, in that it has two deep
caverns. The bottom one holds the device and has a thin plastic protective sheet
that gives the case most of its stiffness. It’s the type of sheet most cases
would have under the fabric on the screen side of the case to give added protection,
not on the opposite side. I’m not sure why RhinoSkin decided on this placement
– I find it odd.
While we’re on the subject of protection, the case has quite a lot of give.
As far as I can tell this plastic sheet is the only stiffening used in the case,
so it’s pretty easy to twist or otherwise bend out of shape. I don’t think this
is a real problem, but if you like stiff cases that don’t have any give this
isn’t the case for you.
Palms can be fastened to the case in two ways – using Velcro or using
slightly elastic plastic rings. I won’t use Velcro on a Palm, so I can’t comment
on how well the Velcro holds, but the case has one of the largest pieces of
Velcro I’ve seen. The hook piece is sewn into the case, inside a square cutout
area of the plastic protective sheet. The case also comes with two large
rectangular pieces of adhesive loop Velcro that cover the entire hook piece and
then some. There is just enough room to attach one of these pieces to a HandEra
330 above the battery door without covering the reset hole, but you will have to
cover the label with serial number.
I like the plastic ring system also provided. Consisting of two somewhat
elastic plastic rings that fit around the device – one on the bottom and one on
the top, they stretch enough to make it fairly easy to get the device into the
case but are snug enough to hold it securely once it’s been positioned. I am
comfortable holding the open case upside down using this system.
The rings do require a little adjustment to ensure that they don’t block any
of the buttons, and with the HandEra 330 the top ring seems to naturally hook
into the small crevice for the LED. If you want to see the LED while the device
is in the case, you’ll have to be very careful to always re-adjust this ring.
Regardless of the attachment style, given the dugout style of the case, you
won’t have access to any of the sides, the top, or the bottom of your device.
You won’t be able to adjust the contrast on devices with contrast wheels, use
the jogdial on a HandEra 330, hotsync, access SD or CF cards, remove the stylus,
or use IR while the device is secured. If you use the ring system, you can use
IR by sliding off the top ring and lifting the top of the unit. You can also
access the jog wheel and expansion slots this way. It is possible but difficult
to access contrast wheels by lifting the top.
The top section that becomes the lid of the case has two stylus holders – one
on each side. Grooved channels that run most of the length of the case, these
holders should fit any stylus that fits in a III silo (I tried the default Palm
III stylus, a pro-techniq stylus, and a Landware floating*point stylus).
However, you need to perfectly position the stylus or it won’t hold. Two ribbons
are provided, one for each side, to help you remove the stylus. Simply place the
ribbon over the channel, hold the end up, then put the stylus in. When you want
to remove the stylus, lift the ribbon and it pops out. If you don’t use the
ribbons, the stylus is slightly but not significantly easier to get in the case
and much more difficult to remove. I suggest using the ribbons.
The case also has a removable belt clip. The back of the case has a
protruding hard plastic hook that slides onto the clip only when the clip is
turned sideways. Once on, the clip can only be removed by pressing in the end of
the clip when it’s in the sideways position. It’s very secure – the case will
tear before the clip will give. I am, in general, not fond of belt clips because
it’s too easy to have an accident. I am comfortable that with this belt clip my
case isn’t going to fall off.
One thing of interest with the clip is that unlike most belt clips, it
doesn’t hang downward when in use. By this I mean in order to have the hinge
facing upward so you can use the clip, the bulk of the clip must be positioned
about the connection point. In this configuration the clip actually protrudes
above the case. Most clips connect at their hinge point and hang downward. This
caused me no end of confusion, as I kept trying to use the clip when it was
upside down and got very frustrated when it wouldn’t open.
RhinoSkin is known for quality products. Their cases generally use the best
materials, incorporate excellent designs, and are created with the best
workmanship. I expect a lot from RhinoSkin and they usually deliver.
However, in this case, they did not. The edges of the case are already
beginning to fray after less than a month of use and there are spots where the
nylon has thinned considerably to the point where you can almost see the white
foam. The stitching on the back of the case – used to hold in the plastic
protective plate that goes behind the device and to hold in the Velcro – has
loose threads sticking up and generally doesn’t blend in well with the case and
there are one or two stray dots of glue on the inside cover. The metal snap that
holds the case closed is starting to tarnish. The entire case is a dust magnet –
there are specks of this and that everywhere. In short, the case had some issues
to begin with and does not hold up well over time.
Very secure belt clip
Plastic ring system securing the Palm
Ribbons make removing stylus much easier
Must fully or partially remove Palm to access IR, hotsync expansion slots
Adds a lot of bulk to the device
Shoddy workmanship and materials