Vaja Tungsten C I-Volution Case Review

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Product Requirements:
Palm Tungsten C

I’ve been a Palm weenie for a number of years now, upgrading models with each
employer upgrade (:-D) and quite thankful that Palm has continued to shed blood
on the razor edge of handheld computing devices. So, when a
Tungsten C slinked out of some rather jolly
birthday wrapping and nestled snugly into my hand last June, I was gob-smacked
(Brit translation: stunned).

What a beauty. What a terrific blend of form and function. What a…what the
heck is this? My elation is deflated by the sight of a rather pathetic looking
‘flip cover’, as Palm calls it. Not exactly what one might expect to protect a
$500 piece of electronic wizardry? But then, par for the course unfortunately.

Or…fortunately! For Palm’s less than stellar attention to covers has
resulted in some rather nifty 3rd-party creations. The subject of this review is
one such cover – the Vaja I-Volution
Emanon-C for Tungsten-C (must have spent a lot of marketing $$ to come up with
*that* name).

But don’t let the name put you off. Vaja clearly allotted reasonable $$ to
the design and manufacturing side of the equation – the quality of the product
is excellent as will become clear.

The case arrived wrapped in tissue paper inside a sort of mini shoe box –
reminiscent of a gift from Nordstrom. As soon as I opened the lid, a strong waft
of leather hit the nose. Hmmm…nice.

I should have worn sunglasses for the next step for when I
opened the case, I almost fell off my chair at the shocking bright orange
color of the interior. The case being reviewed has a dark blue exterior with
a ‘mandarin’ interior. Now that’s a hangover cure if ever I saw one! Vaja
offer a stunning 32 different combinations of interior and exterior colors
for your case. I wonder what they dream of at night…

Examining the case,
it feels very sturdy. Not a supple, pliable leather case…not the sort of
cheapo Frankenstein stitched-up job you might use to port your mobile phone.
It also appears to be leather inside and out. The flip cover provides quick
and instant access to all controls (when not in the Ultra Clip) and is stiff
to protect the screen from abuse. This case is molded beautifully to caress
your Palm and hug it tightly.

Tight being the operative word. It is certainly a squeeze to get the Palm
inside the case, although not a battle. Once in though, it would take an act
of [your favorite divinity here] to get it out. You’ll never lose your pen
either. In fact, if you really need to capture something pronto, you’ll be a
little hard pressed to get the pen out quickly enough! Vaja calls this the ‘Antislide
Shark Enclosure’. Uh…used up the rest of the marketing budget there,

Come now. There’s a fine line between ‘safe & secure’ and ‘Houdini proof’.
The Vaja case does border on the latter, but to be honest, I quite like that,
especially when on the road.

Where this *does* become rather painful though, is cradle time. You have to
remove the Palm from the case in order to charge it in the cradle. My personal
habits tend to swing between road-warrior and office-slug. For the latter, my
Palm sits charging in its cradle on my desk (with the Matrix screen saver
trickling away) all day. Ood-gay eye-bay bright mandarin case which is relegated
to my computer bag.

On the road, however, it’s a different kettle of fish. I carry mine clipped
to my belt (thanks to the Ultra Clip option – an extra $4.00…not a huge amount
of money but you’d think they might throw it in given the overall price) where
it’s secure and easily at hand to check my travel itinerary or cruise the net at
a participating Starby’s HotSpot location. The case measures up nicely for the
road and easily stands up to the occasional bashing from the Samsonite crowd.
Although physically strong, the case quickly acquires nicks, scratches,
scrapes…it begins to lose its clean and elegant look. The dark blue tan of the
leather is very susceptible to cosmetic damage that is very visible since each
one reveals the lighter color of the leather underneath. Mine now looks like a
real road-warrior case, displaying a variety of battle scars.

The Ultra Clip attaches to a chrome button molded into the back of the case.
Time will tell how sturdy and solid this particular implementation is, but
initial reaction is that it’s very solid.

Access to the Palm itself is very good. The front cover of the case simply
flips open. When closed, it stays closed thanks to a molding of the bottom of
the flip cover that fits into the cradle connector, keeping it closed.

When closed, the microphone port and pen are still accessible (again, the pen
won’t fall out accidentally, no way). So is the IR port (not that you’d really
be beaming anything without the cover open). The case is also recessed around
the power button so that you can power the device on and off when it’s in the

Oh, there’s also a couple of slits inside the flip cover to store SD cards.
At first I thought that the slits were supposed to act as cushions to protect
the screen. Silly me. Personally, I only use a single SD card and it remains in
the unit all the time. I was concerned that a stored SD card might come into
contact with the screen, but a rudimentary test proved otherwise.

Finally, there’s a nice little cut-out at the back of the case adjacent to
the Palm’s speaker. The cutout isn’t just empty space, though; it has a
stainless-steel mesh to protect the Palm speaker. A nice touch although one
wonders about the extra cost of manufacturing for this detail.

All in all, this is cosmetically very sharp, functional (with the exception
of cradle-use), and sturdy. At a list price of $108.90 (more creative
marketing?) it’s not the cheapest case on the planet but until Luis Vuitton
jumps on the bandwagon, this could possibly be you’re next best bet.


Price: $104.90 without Ultra Clip, $108.90 with
Ultra Clip, $124.90 starting price Custom Built


Great protection
Stylish, molded and snug
Belt clip design

Can’t use it with the cradle
Scars easily


Product Information

  • Great protection
  • Stylish, molded and snug
  • Belt clip design
  • Expensive
  • Can't use it with the cradle
  • Scars easily

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