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Speck See-Thru Hardshell Case for Treo 680

Mon Jul 30, 2007 - 8:03 AM EDT - By Jay Gross


When you choose a color for your Treo, and pay the cost of owning one, you don’t want to hide it under a boring case. At least I don’t. So, I welcome the chance to show off my (crimson!) Treo 680, while still affording it enough protection to keep my comfort zone comfortable.

There aren’t many choices, and there ought to be many more. I’ve previously reviewed Seidio’s Super Slim Hard Case (Crystal) for Treo 680, and liked it. A lot. It got graded off a little bit in my ratings because it doesn’t offer any protection of the Treo screen, where protection from scratching, flying, or bumping objects is most important. For looks, however, it rules. It’s totally clear. “Crystal,” as the product name states.

Speck Products has a new contender in the clear-ish case fray, and I’ve had the opportunity to check it out thoroughly. It’s built along the same general idea, but Speck’s “See-Thru” hard case isn’t transparent, and certainly not “crystal.” My 680’s crimson beauty does shine through, but not as “clearly”.

Speck’s case adds a couple of wrinkles. First, there’s screen protection, in the form of a little slab of plastic that you’re supposed to lay over the screen before you snap the two halves of the See-Thru case around your Treo. The plastic is too stiff, however, and although the screen is well protected from harm, it’s not as usable. One thing I won’t give up for this type of case is usability, so I removed the screen protecting plastic and went forth with only my expensive Boxwave ClearTouch Crystal screen protector doing its job. I’m not entirely comfortable with this arrangement, simply because I often put my Treos in my pockets, rather than using a clip, where they’re at the mercy of bouncing keys, coins, marbles, and other potentially scratchy objects.

I’d rather have a little door that opens for screen access, or some other contrivance to add the same level of protection to the all-important screen that the See-Thru case provides to the rest of the 680. That means, alas, moving to a different type of case, though fortunately some are available in colors to match the color Treos.

Well, it’s not fair to go on too much about the See-Thru’s lack of screen protection, since I threw the included plastic pane away. Your mileage individualizes itself, as the standard disclaimer cautions. Besides, it’s not at all difficult to remove the See-Thru from the Treo, which you have to do anyway to access the SD Card slot.

Now the color. Seidio’s case is clear. Speck’s is smoky translucent. Matter of taste, but if you’re going to let the color of something shine through, why put any coloration in the plastic at all? I do like the smoky plastic, but I’d like it better if it were clearer – not necessarily crystal clear, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing either.

Installing the See-Thru is a simple matter. To put the case on, lay the screen protector over the screen (if you choose to use it), set the case in the bottom half of the clamshell, and slip the top part on. Start the process by fitting the top part of the clamshell over the bottom edge first. The “snap” that holds it together is at the top, and the case won’t stay put unless it’s assembled in this order. If done this way, it’s quite secure.

The process I’ve described is the reverse of the company’s official directions given on their website. The company’s recommended way works, too, although I found it easier to put the back on first.

To remove it, disengage the catch, say with a fingernail, and the clamshell will open easily. After the first time or two, the process takes only seconds. Isn’t simplicity wonderful?

To attach the Treo to a belt, strap, or clothing, the case comes with a feather weight clip-equipped cradle made of the same translucent plastic. The grip works upside down or not, and rotates 360 degrees with frequent detents to accommodate most any configuration you care to fling at it. While its spring isn’t as strong as some I’ve tested, the wide, “barbed” plastic clip should enable a pretty reliable attachment over almost any edge.


The See-Thru case has cutouts for the buttons on the left side of the Treo, for the HotSync, earphone, and charge connectors on the bottom, and for the keyboard. There’s another opening on top for the ring/vibrate switch, plus cutouts on the back for the camera. The back speaker is covered with perforated plastic, and the ear speaker on the front is covered by a plastic panel that has some airspace around it. Really, it should be simply cutout, a modification you can probably make yourself with skillful application of an X-Acto knife and some patience. I didn’t bother, as the sound attenuation from the plastic isn’t much.

To use the Treo 680’s SD card slot, as I already complained about, you have to remove the case. This is unfortunate, but might be a necessary evil. After you cut so many holes in such a case, there’s not much left to hold it together – literally as well as figuratively.

Built for the lightweight Treo 680, the See-Thru case won’t weigh you down. Without the clip, the plastic halves barely weigh anything at all - 0.6 oz. (17 g.). The clip brings it up to 1.5 oz (42 g). Nice.


The purpose of any case is the protection of your treasure, and Speck’s See-Thru Hard Case has that covered – except for the screen issue I’ve already whined about. However, the plastic case is far from soft. Nuff said about that, too. Moreover, the keyboard remains exposed. Fortunately, it’s not as likely to be scratched by errant keys and coins in a pocket, purse, or book bag.

Forget splashes altogether, and if you get caught in a downpour, shield your Treo from the raindrops while you head for cover. The case offers almost no protection from moisture, and don’t even think about dunking it.

In a (gasp!) drop, the See-Thru case will probably fend off major damage to the Treo, but it’s made of hard plastic, not energy-absorbing materials, so the brunt of any blow will go right through to your treasure without much abatement on the way. For such movin’ and shakin’ I’d be happier with a case made of soft materials. And padded, too. For this type of case, however, the protection is about as good as you’re going to get.

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