HP1910 Pocket PC
When a company supplying PDA cases and accessories has name like
you would probably expect that the cases are going to be a nice shade of olive
green, and make your PDA look about as good as a Faberge egg in a burlap sack.
You wouldn’t be far off if you opt for the low-priced “Side Open ‘LaiChi’
Leather Case” from the Hong Kong-based accessory maker.
While the Surplus LaiChi case isn’t olive green or made of burlap, the textured
black exterior isn’t much more fashionable. The case is made from multiple
layers of what the company describes as “Noble Leather named LaiChi.” While I
have no idea what that means, after much research into the case material I can
certify that it is not – I repeat NOT – leather. And whether it’s noble or not
depends, I suppose on the beholder’s mind and how much they can suffer.
Instead of leather, the case seems to be made of some sort of plastic material,
as proven by the fact that the area around company’s “Surplus” logo is melted
into the right side interior of the case and the faint plastic odor emanating
from the case. The exception to the use of synthetics is the left interior panel on
which the PDA rests, which seems to be made of something that might be genuine
leather. It could just be a different cut of the same synthetic though, and
since so little of the case is even remotely real leather, I hesitate to suggest
that there is any legitimacy to the company’s use of the term.
Setting aside for the moment the material used, the case is of overall good
construction; the stitching is uniform and barely noticeable. There are no bare
edges of material sticking out, and the fit is good, though the lower bra does
partially cover the buttons, especially as the PDA will slowly work its way out
of the snug retainer just a little bit. There is a hole in the bottom of the bra
that allows syncing and charging without removing the 1910 from the case (but
not if you use a cradle). There is no hole for the reset button, but the IR port
and record button are not covered. There’s no cover on the top either, which
means easy access to the headphone port and microphone. The stylus, if you
choose not to use the external stylus holder, is difficult to access since there
is no cut-out for that portion of the back of the case.
The front and back panels of the case are semi-rigid and approximately 3mm thick
– plenty protective against minor drops and dings. The case opens to the right
(reverse book-style) and the snap closure clasp is affixed to the right side.
While some right-handers may complain about the case not opening to the left, I
actually find it easier because the flap isn’t in the way as much, and it
provides easier access to business cards. The flap can also be flipped around to
the back so that it’s completely out of the way, though the clasp gets in the
Inside the case are slots for holding business cards and SD cards – two of each.
These work perfectly well, though the SD card slots are just a little too deep
to provide easy access. When the case is closed, there is no barrier between
where the business cards rest and the screen however, so I would advise against
putting anything but paper cards in those slots. Credit cards can damage the
screen; something other companies prevent by placing a leather cover between the
screen and the card holding slots. Finally there is a small hole for a stylus
that is large enough to accommodate my preferred one – the old Palm III stylus.
Unfortunately the stylus slot is just a little too tight, and the lack of a
cut-out makes it difficult to access.
The PDA is held in the case by use of a lower “bra” and an upper piece of
Velcro. I hate Velcro in PDA cases as much as the Julie, and the use of that
adhesive abomination in this particular case seems pointless –upper or side
restraints as seen with other cases would have served much better. The fit into
the lower bra is good enough though, and the upper Velcro isn’t all that
necessary. Without it, the PDA might slouch forward a bit, but is unlikely to
fall out unless waved about vigorously.
The 1910 is one of the slimmest PDAs out, but that advantage is quickly lost
when in the case. The case measures about 15/16ths of an inch, which is almost
twice as thick as the 1910 without a case. Compared to the Innopocket metal
case, the Surplus case is significantly thicker, and has a very bulky feel.
While protective enough to slip into your front jeans’ pocket, bulk would
prevent that unless you’ve recently lost a lot of weight.
In short, there is very little to like about this case; the material is both
ugly and smelly, the fit isn’t all that great and it adds far too much bulk to
one of the sexiest PDAs currently available. But if you’re looking for a case
that makes your PDA far less attractive to thieves and isn’t consumable by
rodents or bugs, then the Surplus case is just the case for you.
Fairly protective for a leather-ish case
Adequate stitching and finish
Holds stylus of any size
Not real leather
No bottom, side or top protection
Poor screen protection from internal cards
Requires Velcro for secure fit