Palm really has that touchy-feely thing down pat. Like their excellent Hard Case, the Palm Leather Side Case feels fabulous and looks great, this time in soft leather. It also does a good job of protecting its treasure from flying objects and drops, but steer clear of sprinklers, and don't do the rain dance without your umbrella.
The horizontal case clips your Treo at your side. The clip is permanently mounted and stitched into the construction, so there's no changing its orientation--unless you wear your belt over your shoulder.
You have to remove the Treo from the case to use it, although you could easily answer calls by hooking up a Bluetooth or wired headset or other handsfree device. A cutout in the case allows unrestricted access to the Treo's earphone jack – though it's possible to cover it up accidentally or on purpose.
The Side Case provides a convenient, comfortably large pocket where you can stash a credit card, a couple of business cards, or some cash (large unmarked bills, please), but don't expect to store much, or you'll have to squash the Treo to close the case. With the pocket empty, the Treo fits loose left and right but none too roomy back to front. Although there won't be space for your gerbil to move in, the pocket will easily hold three SD cards.
Stuffed full of stuff or not, the pocket's loose fit won't keep its contents from falling out if the case is inverted. If you keep irreplaceable data on SD cards, best not to tempt the Gremlins. My big, clumsy fingers have trouble retrieving SD cards from the case's pocket, so I flip the case over and harness gravity to help. Retrieving business cards, or my much bruised credit card, is no problem.
The Side Case accommodates the Treo with its screen facing in or out, antenna pointing left or right. Two of these orientations obscure the phone's earphone jack, as mentioned earlier. However, two of them admit the Treo's antenna, so the phone isn't as likely to leave the case--until you want it to.
The springy close flap contains a strong magnet that keeps it closed over the Treo. The flap's springiness makes it default to closed, not open. Nice. Even so, I could envision it unintentionally opening if scrubbed against some protruding object while you're scraping through the narrow aisles of a cluttered antiques emporium looking at lamps.
In some orientations, the Treo's charge socket is usable--mutually exclusive with the earphone jack. Except for that, you can't access the Treo's while it's in the case's clutches. The phone's ringer/vibrate switch is almost accessible, but not really. The side button shows through.
Palm's Side Case is more holster than case, anyway, and it's so easy to open that none of this makes much difference. Just whip it out and push its buttons. The "bikini" cutouts make removing the Treo simple and fast, even one-handed.
The Leather Side Case offers cushioning aplenty. Reinforced with hard, solid plates, its padded leather panels will protect against bumps, scrapes, and drops. The "bikini" cutouts leave large areas exposed, but recessed considerably from the outside surface. Something would have to make a determined effort to damage the Treo through the cutouts.
Although it has a strong grip, the magnetic closure doesn't latch. If the open case is inverted, boom, wham, cry. Unlikely, sure, but in places where objects might snag the closure, be careful anyway.
As for moisture, forget it--totally. You'd be okay in a rain storm for a short time, but even a quick dunking would result in a scenario best described as "wire canoe."
I can't find much not to like about the Leather Side Case. It's built like a tank, has a luxurious feel, and looks great, all for a reasonable sum. Well, maybe if the inner pocket had a flap of some kind, to keep stuff from falling out.
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Read Merciful by Casey Adolfsson