Brando Workshop Tapwave Zodiac Case Review

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Product Requirements:
Tapwave Zodiac1 or 2

Ever since I started using a Tapwave
, I have wanted a case that would protect and enhance its looks.
Perhaps due to the Zodiac’s curvy shape, landscape orientation, odd button
placement or maybe because this PDA isn’t widely available in stores, there just
haven’t been a lot of manufacturers rushing to create anything. I think it
really is a shame because the Zodiac has turned into one of the most dependable
workhorses I have ever owned. I think that the Zodiac deserves better protection
than the cheesy screen cover with which it ships.

Brando Workshop, a company that can
almost always be counted upon to introduce accessories for even the most
underappreciated  PDAs, has what I believe may be the only 
play-through Tapwave Zodiac
currently available on the market.

Comprised of a very finely grained, smooth black leather similar to Napa, the
Brando case has evenly spaced white stitching for a nice contrasting visual
effect. There is no branding on the exterior, in fact the overall effect is
quite subdued and businesslike. Not a bad way to cover what is still considered
by many to be a primarily a gamer’s PDA!

The case is kept securely closed with a magnetic snap tab.

While the empty case may cause you to recall a traditional book-style, the
Brando is actually more like a flip-style due to the landscape orientation of
the PDA. With that in mind, here is how the Zodiac is presented when in the

The lid portion is also comprised of smooth black leather with contrasting
white stitching. It feels like it has been reinforced with a sheet of plastic
sandwiched between the layers of leather. There are two pockets for ID or credit
cards, as well as two recessed slots for holding SD cards. A deep slash pocket
runs the length of the organizer area. The Brando logo is tastefully embossed
between the sets of pockets.

If you are going to use these pockets, then it’s probably a good idea to also
use the included removable ID card pocket. This pocket is made of a soft
waffle-textured nylon in black, also with contrasting white stitching.


When this ID pocket is installed, chances of the Zodiac’s screen being
scratched by contents of the wallet are virtually nil. If you are someone that
can get by with only carrying a few ID and credit cards along with a small
amount of bills, then you might actually be able to use the Brando case as a
replacement wallet.

The bottom portion of the case is lined in a soft velvet-like material. It
also appears to be reinforced with a sheet of plastic between the layers of
leather and velvet. This should protect the PDA from any scratches and add as an
additional shock buffer. The holster is made of layers of stiff black leather,
once again with contrasting white stitching.

In order to insert the Zodiac into the holster, the stock screen cover will
need to be removed. Once the PDA is in place, it is immediately evident that all
buttons, ports, joystick, and slots are still easily accessible. Even the
inconveniently placed stylus becomes handy due to the way that the case flaps
back to expose it.

Because of the Zodiac’s curves and port / button positioning, it would most
likely be impossible to cover all of the exposed corners and still have such a
functional case. With that in mind, the user will just have to guard against
dropping the PDA as the Brando will not provide corner protection. Of course, a
naked PDA is even less protected, so don’t use that as an argument not to get
this case.


Since the Tapwave does not ship with a cradle, it will probably not matter to
many that the Zodiac has to be removed to sync or charge. If you are using just
the cable that shipped with the PDA then you will still be able to conveniently
do so.

The main con I can see concerns the considerable thickness that is added when
this case is used. Without the case, the Tapwave measures 5.6" long x 3.3" wide
(at widest point) x 0.5" thick. With the Brando case including the card
holder/screen protector, the numbers jump to 5.8" long x 3.4" wide (at widest
point) x 1.4" thick (on snap). If you are trying to keep this PDA in your
pocket, then this may be a deal-breaker.

Exposed corners and added thickness aside, the Brando is an excellent case
that offers good looks and excellent quality. It is still quite easy to use the
Tapwave as a gaming device while it is in the case, and to me, that says a lot
about the planning that went into its making. If you have been looking for a
protective case that can also double as a light day wallet, then you should give
the Brando a try.

Price: $32

Allows access to every button and port
Very well made with attractive design
Can serve as a mini-wallet
Excellent screen protection
Allows syncing/charging with Tapwave cable

Adds considerable thickness to Zodiac
Corners are not protected in case of drop
Will not work with Tapwave cradle


Product Information

  • Allows access to every button and port
  • Very well made with attractive design
  • Can serve as a mini-wallet
  • Excellent screen protection
  • Allows syncing/charging with Tapwave cable
  • Adds considerable thickness to Zodiac
  • Corners are not protected in case of drop
  • Will not work with Tapwave cradle

15 thoughts on “Brando Workshop Tapwave Zodiac Case Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. Thanks Judy for your review. There is one other case such as this that I’ve seen. Global Source Zodiac Case It looks like a double with the exception of the dark thread and the embossed logo.

    Do you think the Brando case would have enough screen protection without the insert and would this reduce the 1.4 inches by any amount?

    I’m leaning towards the Z2 and hoping that Sprint eventually comes out with a strong line of Bluetooth phones as my PDA/Surf solution. I love the screen and the horsepower under the hood of the Z2.

    Too bad about your TH55 experience. I tried to get one of those and a UX50 in my hands, but Best Buy no longer carries them in their local store – only online (at least my local store – YMMV)

    Do you surf with the Z2 using a cell phone? I know your Cell options are limited <some of wide spaces being from tx in the detractions open>

    Thanks for your contributions to my PDA decision-making. – Matt

  3. Matt,

    I absolutely think that the Brando case has enough protection without the insert…unless you carry cards in the slots.

    My concern is that they would either rub against the screen and scratch it, or they would press against the screen and break it.

    In answer to your question about surfing, I don’t (can’t) do that with my cell phone. That was one feature I really liked about the TH55 – built in WiFi baby! 😉

    Judie :0)

  4. Thanks for another great review. As always, good critiques, lots of good pics — a premier review once again.

    Have you or anyone used any of the universal PDA cases with the Tapwave Zodiac? In particular, I was curious about the Vaja Large Universal PDA case. It looks very close to fitting, but it could be snug. I sent a note to Vaja regarding this, but have yet to hear from them.

    This case looks interesting but I was wanting something more like a slipcase, preferably out of a good quality leather.

    Any suggestions??

  5. Judie —

    Thanks for the quick response. You’re right — that type of case might work. It certainly is gorgeous!!! Maybe they will let you demo one again!!!

    I checked out the Avoglio website and sent them a quick question asking about the Tapwave, in case they know someone who has used it or they have tried it themselves.

    I will let you know what I find out.

    Thanks again…

  6. Judie —

    Great minds think alike!

    Julie —

    If you hear from them first, let us know. As I mentioned before, Tapwave cases are rare and this would be a great find.


  7. Have you received any other Zodiac cases for review? The Sena cases website indicates that they are working on one (or more).

    GlobalSource has one, but I think it is the same as the Brando. Just with black stitching instead of white.

  8. We have got feelers out – hoping for more Tapwave cases. Right now it looks like there is a Proporta design coming…can’t say when, though (becuase I don’t think even they know). We’ll see what Sena comes up with, they make nice cases. 🙂

  9. The only thing that is keeping me from getting this case for Rumble (the nickname I gave my Zodiac 2. I give each of my gadgets and computers nicknames based on appropriate names from the Transformer series) is it’s total thickness it adds. Rumble is already thick enough, and he has told me he does not want to look fatter than he already is. What Rumble would like to know is if the case is substantially thinner without the insert in it? Also, will you review some of the other Zodiac cases come out? Rumble and I both would love to see a slim profile flip-top case with a non-magnetic closure (light snap, preferablly) with a hard plastic reinforced cover. Thanks for any help.

  10. We will review all the Zodiac cases we can get our hands on as they come out. So if you hear of a particular one and we haven’t mentioned it or covered it, please feel free to let us know about it. :0)

  11. I have the GlobalSource case. So far, the magnetic clasp has not damaged the Zip disks that I carry in my briefcase.

    Yes, it doubles my Z2’s thickness. I even took out the insert. I made a cheap stylus holder using a plastic ID card pouch, and slipped it into the insert pocket. Now I use an old Visor stylus instead of fiddling with the Zodiac stylus (which is hard to get to using this case).

  12. I took a credit card and rubbed the magnetic strip over the magnetic clasp of my GlobalSource case. Result – the magnetic strip is toast. The lesson here is that a magnetic clasp will erase a magnetic strip.

    When the magnetic clasp is closed, I think the magnetic field lines are confined within the clasp. Thus it would be safe near magnetic media when closed. This must be why my Zip disks have not been damaged.

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