Metal hard cases can be one of my favorite case designs. Ive occasionally dropped my Treo, and of course the metal can take the impact. Usually, these types of cases are well designed with a lower profile than you might expect, and just the right number of features. In the past, I have noticed problems with them. Screens prone to scratching, cases suffering from loose hinges, and having a propensity towards chilliness against the ear. This Mobi Products Metal case, alas, suffers from many of these faults and more. However, it did rescue my Treo from a serious fall. As I dont have insurance on the phone, it may still be a case worth considering.
My basic review modus operandi is to grab a new product, set it up on my desk, pop it on my Treo, or plug it into my computer, whatever the situation requires. Ill test the product until I feel I have a good sense of it, and then work on the review while still using the product. After the review is finished, Ill grab the next product on the test bench. Due to other commitments, there has been quite a lag between reviews so Ive been using this metal hard case far too long. Irony of ironies, I have many issues with it.
You slide the Treo into the neoprene lined case. The Treo sits snuggly enough, then close the lid. Like many hard cases Ive used, this one has a plastic screen riding above the Treo's screen. Unlike many Ive used, the navigation buttons and keyboard are exposed. Other cutouts include, well, everything else except the miniSD card slot.
The back of the case has a removable nub for an optional belt clip screw. I should mention that the case itself is a smooth, matte black and made from aircraft grade aluminum. Already it shows signs of scratching, with a bit of silver peeking out, though some of those scratch marks are well earned. The case also comes in silver, and although may get scratched, they are less likely to be noticeable.
I had placed the Treo in the breast pocket of my LL Bean Fleece jacket. Forgetting to zip up the pocket, I leaned over and the Treo tumbled out. It bounced harmlessly on the floor. On the corner of the case are scratch marks where it hit. If you are prone to silliness like this, then I would strongly encourage you to consider a hard case of some sort. They really do work. This one small incidence is proof of that.
One concern I had was the exposed keyboard. I was worried that the strength of protection of a hard case would be undermined by this design decision. In practice, because the case sits far enough away from the keyboard with a rounded edge sneaking in, the keyboard is quite protected from harm. Even the jail like bars for the back speaker, the single slit for the front speaker, and the minimalist cut outs for IR Port and camera seem to fit with the idea of maximum protection with maximum usability. However, the top and bottom are not covered as well as they might be, due to the way the lid clasps shut.
My main gripe with the case is that all of this protection and the boxy nature of the case truly undermine its usability. The metal lip around the sides of the keyboard make it too difficult to use the outer row of keys. Worse yet, the stylus is nearly impossible to get to without opening the lid a bit and pushing up the device. Since Im a heavy stylus user, even in this day and age of the five-way nav, its a problem. The problems with hard cases I mentioned earlier are still here. The plastic screen is already starting to scratch. Some users resort to popping them out altogether. Ive never had a hinge break on me; however this one seems prone to wiggle as well. Its something I feel could be fixed. If the IR port is exposed, then it should have been possible to make a cut out for the SD slot as well. If there needed to be a choice, I would have preferred the latter to the former.
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