Until recently, finding ones preferred style of case for the Centro was not easy. After all, the Centro was a new product, and we had to undergo the usual excruciating wait for accessories unique to our particular tastes to roll off the assembly line.
A few short months later, its possible to find just about any kind of case for the Centro that we can imagine: clear acrylic cases, rubberized skins, organizer cases, side pouches and more. Take a look at Centro Depot sometime to see the full variety of options available.
Most of the cases that have arrived on my doorstep to review have been molded cases, but its the soft cases that interest me most. Nothing beats a good leather case. Today, Monacos Sleeve Type Case for Centro is campaigning for my approval. Lets take a closer look.
Design and Usability
Aesthetically, this is a lovely case. Made of black cowhide leather with white overstitching for a visible trim, the Monaco has a nice handmade look and feel. The soft leather stretches perfectly so that youve essentially broken in the case after a single use. Its not necessary to exert much force to slip the Centro in place, even the first time. The stitches apparently keep the case from overstretching, so theres never much slack.
The case itself is a three-piece construction. The main expanse of leather covers the Centros front and perimeter, with openings for the screen and keyboard, then the usual array of cutouts. This piece is sewn to a padded base covering the Centros back, securing at the top with a button closure reaching over from the front piece to the base. Finally, a small threaded receptacle for the swivel clip bolt is stitched into the outside of the base.
The threaded receptacle is a common feature on Monaco cases. You simply screw the swivel clip bolt on or off to switch between clip-ready and clipless. Whats more common on other cases is to have a two-piece assembly where one half mounts on the inside of the case and snaps through to the other half that mounts on the outside, which takes several times longer to attach and detach. Monacos design is more intuitive.
The belt clip itself is a standard, 360-degree non-ratcheting type. Unfortunately, the angle cant be locked for horizontal mounting, which seems to be the preferred way of wearing a cell phone on the hip these days.
For those more interested in the case than the clip, its worth pointing out that the Monaco is slightly less pocketable than other soft cases Ive tested. The padded base is about 2mm thick, and is fairly rigid. Since it doesnt contour to the Centros curvatures, the base adds more bulk than the average, making it a tighter fit in ones front pocket.
The opening for the screen has no shield. Some people prefer a windowed opening, but I find that plastic screens that arent in complete contact with the touchscreen provide an uneven touch response, especially toward the edges.
The opening for the keyboard is the best of all of the soft cases Ive tested, for a subtle reason: the portion of leather that wraps around the bottom edge of the Centro gives the keyboards bottom row full clearance. With other cases, even good ones, their bottom front portion tends to hike up against the bottom keys, which can be annoying when youre trying to create a text message.
Another best of (or first of?) award goes to the Monacos cutout provisions, which account for every last port, button, key and switch the Centro features. Most of the Centro cases Ive tested are about 90% complete in the cutout department. Frequent omissions are cutouts for the IR port and the microSD bayusually the latter. Its nice to see that not every case designer considers these expendable.
My only real gripe with the Monaco case is the old-school 360-degree swivel clip. It would be ideal to have the option of wearing the case sideways, locked into position.
But everything else is absolutely terrific. This is a beautiful case, with a more lo-fi, organic touch than most competing products. The artful overstitching and soft texture are a refreshing alternative to the many molded cases Ive reviewed, but whats more noteworthy is the value it offers for the price. Its a very elegant and impressive case thats a steal at $24.95. But the design and craftsmanship that have gone into this case make it a compelling purchase at any price.
Attractive handmade look and feel
Includes cutouts for IR port and memory card bay
Leather stretches easily without creating excessive slack
Bolt for swivel clip simple and quick to detach
|360-degree swivel clip cannot lock to a preferred angle
Padded base makes wearing in pocket a tighter fit than many Centro cases
No shield for screen