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The Seidio Rubberized Ultraslim case a unique product I really wanted to like but..

Tue Jun 12, 2007 - 9:55 AM EDT - By Harv Laser

The case for a case

Click any picture to see a full-sized version

When I first started reviewing Palm PDAs in general, and later switched my focus to Treos only and bought my first Treo, the 650, a couple years ago, there weren't a whole lot of choices in cases. But the Treo case market has exploded to such an extent that if you put a gun to my head and said "Guess within twenty either way how many different Treo cases there are".. well, I guess you'd just have to shoot me. I couldn't do it. Hundreds? I honestly have no idea, and I write about Treo stuff for a living. How do you suppose Joe "Novice Just Bought a Treo" Consumer feels when faced with a bajillion different choices?

Treo cases come in plastic, aluminum, magnesium, metal and plastic, silicone rubber, cowhide leather, reptile skin, sheepskin, cases with and without screen protection, keyboard protection, belt clips, no clips, lanyards, side pouches, holsters, card holders, doors, water-proofing, plain looking, high fashion design.. you can buy them in every color of the rainbow.. the number of choices is simply overwhelming, baffling, and so are the range of prices. I can show you a $10.00 case and I can show you a $350.00 case for a Treo.

Now look, everyone's different.. unique. We all like different products for our own reasons. We don't all have the same budget. Sometimes we like and stick with a certain brand since we've had a good experience with a company's stuff. Sometimes we like a certain style, or we own multiple styles for different reasons. Some of us prefer protection over style. Some want both. What I like, you might hate and vice versa.

Protecting my Treos with a sturdy, functional case is a big deal for me. Sure, I've got replacement "Insurance" on my Treos, and I think for the five bucks a month or whatever it costs, it's worth it. These aren't cheap phones. And human beings aren't perfect creatures. We drop things; they slip out of our hands. We put something on a car seat or sofa, get distracted talking to someone and then accidentally sit on that thing.

Some of you have babies, kids, pets, and {gasp} teenagers.. these creatures like to grab small things and chew on them.

Water, dust, grit, the elements are the enemies of any consumer electronics. It rains. Stuff gets wet. Poof, it's damaged beyond repair. I watched a friend accidentally knock over a full can of beer onto his $3000.00 Mac laptop's keyboard once. He wasn't drunk; it was an accident. Ever seen a grown man cry? Luckily, he was an ubergeek and a bench tech and knew how to quickly pull the keyboard, dry it out and get his laptop working again but man, he was freaking, not to mention embarrassed.. my Treos are my babies.. I rely on them and am never without one or both. Yes, even in the bathroom.

Okay, so where am I going with this? I'm going to a once-over of what must be the thinnest Treo hard case in existence, Seidio's "Ultraslim Rubberized" case. If you like hard plastic cases, and you want absolutely the lowest-profile case there is, and I mean 1.2mm thick, and which weighs almost nothing, then it has no competition, at least none that I can find. Me? I could care less about a couple extra ounces of weight, or a thicker case around my Treos if I have the protection that comforts my paranoia. But if you have to absolutely have the thinnest, lightest, lowest-profile hard case there is, here ya go.

If at first you don't succeed..

Seidio sent me the first rev of the Rubberized Ultraslim ("RU") a few months ago. Supplied in their typically lavish packaging, a plastic bag, I sat down with my 700p and the two part case and tried to install it. And tried.. and tried.. and tried some more.. and cursed a lot.

The RU uses a system of molded-in plastic.. well it's hard to even call them clips since they're more protrusions and recesses around the inside of the top and bottom halves that snap into each other. I simply could not get the two halves to snap together all the way around. Get one side snapped shut, work on the other side, snap snap, the first side unsnapped. I sat here futzing with it for an hour, I kid you not. Okay, enough. Either I just got stupid or this thing just plain didn't fit. So a call to a Product Manager at Seidio.

"Does the bottom half of the case have a sticker with the letter 'P' on it?" He asked.. I checked and answered "Nope." "Oh", he replied, "We sent you the first version which is slightly out of spec for the 700p. It's off by less than half a millimeter but that's enough to keep it from locking shut on both sides at once. I'll rush you out our revised version that works correctly, and we have a nice side holster to go along with it and I'll toss one of those in too.."

So I wasn't stupid after all. This is such a tightly form-fitting case and they mis-measured by such a tiny bit when making the molds, that the first ones off the line didn't snap shut. How does that saying go, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Close doesn't cut it when you're dealing with a fraction of a millimeter in this case's case. I tossed it in the corner and said bad words.

After a few days, another padded mailer from Seidio arrived. A new RU. "Let's hope this one fits" I muttered to myself.. hmm it does have the "P" sticker inside the bottom half.. but again, I couldn't get the thing to stay snapped shut all the way around no matter what I did.

Another bunch of emails and phone calls revealed that they had forgotten to include the printed instruction sheet. D'oh! Y'see, there's a certain order of snapping these tiny molded protrusions together that you absolutely must follow when putting this case around your Treo or it just won't stay closed. And since I didn't have the instruction sheet, and I'd left my crystal ball in my colorful Gypsy wagon outside, well, instruction sheet in hand.. I carefully followed them and it worked! Snapped shut all the way around, although there was STILL a slight gap between the halves on the right hand side, it didn't just fall apart in my hands like the first one did.

Turn your Treo into an M&M

The Seidio Rubberized Ultraslim case reminds me of a Peanuts M&M commercial.. you know, "dipped in chocolate and surrounded by a thin thin candy shell." This thing is, without a doubt, the thinnest, lightest hard shell Treo case I have ever handled. But is it the case for me? Is it one I'd use all the time? Probably not, I prefer more protection, but it might be for you. Like I said, we're all different.

Physically, ya gotcher bottom half, and ya gotcher top half and if you follow the instruction sheet and snap them together correctly, you have your Treo surrounded in a 1.2mm shell that weighs practically nothing.

The back is perfectly smooth – no belt clip, no protruding nub for one. Seidio's signature reset hole is on the back, so if you have one of their optional Treo doors with a hole in it, you can poke your stylus right through the case and the door for a quick reset.

Once installed (correctly), the RU has perfectly shaped cut-outs for everything on the 700-series Treos. Antenna, SD card slot, stylus, speaker, camera, LED, side buttons and bottom connector, but it offers absolutely NO screen, control button, or keyboard protection of any kind.

This is minimalism to the max.

Like Henry Ford's Model T, you can buy the RU in any color you want, as long as it's black. The inside of both halves is shiny black plastic. 100 percent of the outside of both halves is coated / sprayed / covered with some kind of grippy surface coating. I'm no chemist, they call it "Rubberized", but it's not squishy. It's not thick enough to BE squishy, but it is nicely grippy, kind of warm to the touch. I haven't used this case long enough to know if that coating will wear off after time.. like I said earlier, this isn't really my style of case. It doesn't offer enough protection on its own for me to feel confident using it on a daily basis.

I hate belt clips so when I'm out and about, my Treos are in my pockets, either an inside jacket pocket or my jeans pockets where there's all kinds of flotsam and jetsam like coins, keys, pillboxes, a Swiss Army Knife, and other junk.. I want my cases to give me screen protection at the very least, so my 700p usually lives in a RhinoSkin Aluminum case with a hinged, windowed door on the front, or one of those clear plastic snap-together cases with a flip-up screen-protecting window. Or if I'm out to impress, (my friends, or just myself).. one of my Vaja cases, like the gorgeous i-Volution Top with Visor Cover that I reviewed a few months ago. (I have another new Vaja beauty on hand, waiting in the wings.. review coming up later this month)..

Next Page: I dropped my Treo.. ON PURPOSE!.. and lived to tell about it.. >>

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