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OtterBox 1920 Palm Treo Case

Thu Jan 4, 2007 - 8:03 AM EST - By Jennifer Chappell

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I've purchased many cases for my Palm devices over the years and I'm pretty picky about the cases that I buy. I like for my Palm to be well protected and to remain useable while inside the case. I prefer cases that aren't open in the front because I want my device's screen to remain scratch free. I try to keep all my Palms in pristine condition and I can't stand the thought of a fingerprint, much less a scratch, being on any of my precious Palms. Since buying a Palm Treo 650, I'm especially careful how I handle that little beauty. I carry my Treo with me everywhere I go as I use it for my phone as well as a PDA.

Since I first entered the world of Palm devices, I'd heard about a rugged case called the OtterBox. The ads, pics, and reviews of each OtterBox PDA case have always caught my eye. As I mentioned in my article in November, Otter Products has been producing the ultimate protection for storing valuables in their "box-like" rugged cases called the OtterBox since 1996.

OtterBox has three universal PDA cases; the 1900 for smaller PDAs (Read our 1900 review), the 2600 which can accomodate Palm PDAs such as the Tungsten E, T3,TC, and the 3600 which will accommodate just about anything you need attached to your PDA and is for users who demand expandability and extreme ruggedness!

Well, now Otterbox has released the OtterBox 1920 Palm Treo Case that is designed specifically for Palm Treo devices. The OtterBox 1920 case accomodates the Palm Treo 650, 700w, and 700p models. For this review, I'll be using my Treo 650. OtterBox has built a heck of a product with the 1920 because this rugged case will allow you to work virtually anywhere with complete use of phone, email, internet, MP3 files and camera all through the case.


There is a wide variety of cases out there for the Palm Treo. You'll find skin cases, luxurious leather cases, simple pouch-like cases, hard holster cases, and of course the extreme, rugged cases. One look at the OtterBox 1920 case will reveal that this is a case built for the "ultimate" in protection. And I'm betting that the OtterBox 1920 never gets just "one" look. I'd say that anyone who glances at this case will do a head jerking double take. I know I did.

The 1920 screams "toughness". The case has a black polycarbonate/ABS shell, and this hard plastic gives the 1920 maximum strength and rugged durability. There is a gray rubber overmolding for grip and drop protection. I like how the rubber overmolding feels when holding the case. The rubber material really does make for a firm grip, ensuring that the case with your precious cargo inside doesn't slip out of your hand. Well, not that I would be too concerned if "this" case hit the ground since it's so rugged and tough!

The case comes in two parts; a front and back panel. Your Treo easily slides up into the front part of the case where you slide the phone in until the camera window is lined up.

There is a seal on the inside of the back panel that fits into a groove in the front panel. When the two parts are put together and locked with the gray plastic latch on the back, the inside of the case is a safe haven for my Treo 650. I like to think of the OtterBox 1920 as a miniature "Fort Knox" against the elements for my Treo. This case is water resistant, dustproof, and has drop and crush protection. I'll talk more about the water resistance and drop protection later on in my review.

I usually carry my Treo in my hand bag or gadget bag and never carry it in my pockets. Those Treo owners who tend to carry their Treo in their pockets probably wouldn't want to do so with the 1920 unless they have some large pockets as the case is a tad bulky. The case also adds a little weight at 0.6 lbs. For those who like to carry their Treos on their belts, OtterBox has the Ultra Swivel Clip Belt Clip available for the 1920.

You can see the size comparison of my Treo 650 and the OtterBox 1920 in these photos. Naturally the case is larger than the Treo since the case is built for protection and has many extra parts on it. The size and weight isn't a problem for me because I carry my Treo in a gadget bag most of the time.

Sound Quality

Since I use my Treo as my mobile phone, the sound quality of the 1920 is important. I made several phone calls on my Treo while it was inside the case, and I had some trouble hearing the person on the other end of the conversation. Of course the Treo 650 itself doesn't have the best sound quality anyway. I had to get the program VolumeCare Pro and install it on my Treo soon after I got the phone. I talk to my husband on my Treo more than anyone, and he was always complaining that he couldn't hear me. The problem was solved after I installed VolumeCare Pro. But the problem seemed to emerge once again when I put my Treo inside the 1920. I think it was mostly that people couldn't hear me very well. Turning up the volume with VolumeCare Pro did help quite a bit, but when I turned the volume all the way up, people would tell me that they were hearing themselves echo. So I adjusted the volume with the program until it was satisfactory to the other person and myself. I also used a bluetooth headset and that seemed to also solve the problem pretty well. I talked with Kristin from OtterBox and she was very helpful with all my questions. She informed me that the engineers were aware of the sound quality problem and that they have implemented the following to make the situation better (running changes):

  • New vent that transmits sound better. We have already implemented this but we need to get through the first 1000 pieces first. We are working with an acoustic engineer to come up with a better system.
  • Additionally, to seal the case against dust and water we end up blocking some of the sound transmission through the case. This is inevitable though we are working on ways to make it better. We suggest that people use a Bluetooth headset if the sound through the case is not loud enough.

    I'm happy that OtterBox works so closely with their testers and customers to improve their great cases!

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