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Palm Hard Case

Mon Aug 7, 2006 - 2:15 PM EDT - By Jay Gross

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Product Info
Details
> Name Palm Hard Case
> Company Palm, Inc
> Tested with Treo 650, Treo 700p
> Fact Sheet & User Opinions
Availability
> Available
Pricing
> $39.95


Design

Palm's Hard Case has a cushion of felt on the inside, and a smooth, matte black coating on the outside. The non-metallic case has a great feel to it almost soft, though it's anything but. The underlying black plastic "polycarbonate," if you must know shows at the edges on close inspection.

The case's primary construction seems sturdier than any turtle, and the design is the same hard protective shell surrounding the goodies. It's attractively accented (the case, not the turtle) with a metal closure, a shiny Palm nameplate, and a removable, stainless steel, belt clip.

The sleek, rounded-off package closely fits the Treo 650, 700w, and 700p. The case feels luxurious, and the Treo nestles in it cozily, with no room for shakin' and breakin'. Except for the Treo's antenna, which protrudes through a cutout, the phone stays well out of reach of the Gremlins in Charge of Harm, Jetsam, and other hazards.

Being matte black, the outside coating readily shows fingerprints and any dirt that comes even close, but all of it wipes off easily. I carry my Treo in a case in my shirt pocket, where it competes for space with parking meter change, a pen, and a mechanical pencil, all sources of abrasion that the Hard Case nicely fends off.

The package includes a little illustrated instruction sheet that shows how to use a dime to remove the belt clip. I took it off as soon as I discovered it was removable. The clip is a simple spring with no locking mechanism, and it only attaches the case horizontally, since you can't rotate or attach it to the case in the other direction.

In the accompanying product photographs, I've tried to render the smooth feel of the outside case, so the case looks a little lighter than it really is. The real color is basic black, a classy contrast with the chromed clip(s) and the Palm logo. Yes, those are my fingers wielding the dime.

Usability

Quite simply, you cannot answer any calls or otherwise use the Treo while it's in the case, unless you have a Bluetooth headset paired with the phone. Otherwise, if it rings, you can hear it, unless you've chosen a particularly pianissimo ring tone, but the Treo is not accessible with the case closed. To answer or make a call, you not only have to open the case, but also remove the Treo. The case's halves don't open far enough for the phone to be useful, except to check the time or inspect the screen for alerts, and the only accessibility cutout is for the antenna.

Opening the Hard Case, at least for me, takes two hands. So far, I've missed two phone calls while, ummm, driving (Guilty, your honor!) to clients' meetings. I couldn't get the case open and retrieve the Treo before the caller got dumped to voicemail, or hung up. In the movies, phones ring for half a reel before the beset heroine feebly answers. In my little chunk of the real world, callers get steamed on the fourth ringy-dingy and hang up.

Anyway, I put the case to the one-hand-retrieval test at home, minus the distracting influence of holding the car in the road at 75 miles an hour (No contest, your honor everyone else was doing 90). I still couldn't manage it with one hand, or extract the phone single-handed once the case was open, even after a few minutes of practice.

Well, of course you're not supposed to talk on the cell phone while driving. Do as I say, not as I do, but in my defense, it's not (yet) a traffic infraction in this state. On the other hand, suppose you're not driving, but your other hand is holding a beverage, a hot dog, a fork, or an entrenching tool? Even when using the phone is legal, two-handed Treo case opening isn't always convenient.

To solve this problem, it's tempting to wish the case's hinge would permit the halves to open wide, even flat. However, that would probably increase the danger of (gasp!) dropping the Treo on its way in or out -- one-handed or not. Maybe you can manage the maneuver blindfolded with two toes tied behind you. Maybe you teach in a magicians' school and you can also pull aces out of a bunny's hat.

Hard rain and a fall

Alas, I put the Palm Hard Case to the drop test. Accidental, I assure you. I lucked out again, as the Treo fell to the rug from table height and did not land on its antenna, the only part that sticks out of the Palm Hard Case. I'm delighted to report that there is no damage to report. Whew! The case affords excellent protection, except for the protruding antenna, which isn't all that fragile but could be damaged in a fall. Don't try this at home, or anywhere else, and don't tell me about it, either.

Rain testing with actual rain isn't part of the standard plan, here, but I got caught in a downpour twice, so far. As I expected, the Hard Case did its job admirably both times. As for dunking it, no way. The halves fit tight enough to keep the rain out, but there's enough open space around the antenna that I'd recommend you keep the case away from major splashes and definitely don't submerge it. It would be possible for an errant raindrop to squeeze its way into the opening around the antenna, so do as I do -- flip the case upside down in a pocket and enjoy the rainfall. Rain isn't as much of a hazard if you clip the Hard Case to your belt, since the antenna port won't be in the way of falling droplets.

Quibbles

Besides exposure of the Treo's antenna, a necessary evil if the phone is able to receive calls while stashed in the case, I've got doubts about that spring-loaded closure. Sure, it has an attractive curve, but its unyielding edges protrude into the path of the Treo as it lands in the case. My crystal ball peers into the future and worries about the Treo's finish where it scoots across the case's closure. Sure, it's possible to interpose a finger to deftly shield the Treo from contact with the closure. But every time? Even when hurried? Forever? The potential for damage is partly on the battery cover, but also partly on the side where it isn't as replaceable.



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