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SPE TopPouch: Your Centro Never Looked This Good!

Tue Aug 5, 2008 - 10:50 AM EDT - By Annie Latham


Depending on what circles you run in, proudly exposing your tech devices (notebook computer, PDA or smartpone, and now Bluetooth headset) had a certain panache. People walking by may remark something like, “Wow! You’ve got one of those! Awesome!” In fact, you may see more of that going on these days with the iPhone (Generations 1 and 2) and the plethora of fancy looking, hands-free headsets folks are using.

But sometimes the situation may require a little bit of understated class. I remember back in the days before the arrival of the Palm Pilot, when everyone ran around with either a DayTimer or Franklin Planner.

We’d sit in meetings and quietly admire how our colleagues “carried” their time management tools. Some opted for a full sized binder. Others liked more scaled back models that were offered in a variety of styles, materials and sizes. Personally, my preference was the Junior Pocket version (see below). I could be organized without it looking like my DayTimer ruled my life (even though it kind of did…).

Which brings me back to the lovely TopPouch by Smartphone Experts. I recently had the opportunity to give it a try and walked away feeling quite nostalgic from the experience. It looks great, keeps the Centro well protected and is really quite affordable.


The one I tested was the Cream Brandy version. I guess what struck me immediately was that this combination of colors and materials complemented each other quite well.

On the front of it, the body consisted of cream-colored, pebbly texture leather. The “brandy” looked to me like a rich, tan color that was similar to an old briefcase I used to have. The “tan” stitching around the top of the cream section looked very classy. The magnetic clasp was enclosed in brandy (tan) leather, which accented the cream body well.

On the reverse side, it is all brandy (tan) with the Smartphone Experts (SPE) logo branded into the leather, just below the belt clip.

The interior of the case was fully padded (front, back and sides) with something that felt like the “felt” found in fine jewelry cases.

Somehow, Smartphone Experts managed to put together this fine TopPouch case in a way that still kept the Centro’s slim form factor. Don’t get me wrong. This is not like having a skin or crystal case as a layer or protection for your Centro. You can think of those as the Speedo cases for obvious reasons. The SPE TopPouch adds just enough padding and covering without making the Centro take on ginormous dimensions.


Ah… now comes the trade-off. The big question is, what type of Centro user are you? In general, I’m someone who moves around a lot and wants my Centro readily accessible, immediately when I need it. I guess that would put me in the category of those liking slip-on shoes.

The SPE TopPouch is more for those who don’t mind taking a bit of time to do things. Think of it more like wearing lace-up shoes. This isn’t a bad thing. After all, you’re getting extra support versus a slip-on, right?

Looking at it another way… Are you okay with answering the phone on the fourth ring (third once you get the knack of getting the Centro out of the case)? If so, then the SPE TopPouch could be a great solution for carrying around your Centro.

The next question is: How do you carry your Centro? With a slim crystal case, I’m more apt to just shove it in my jacket/shorts pocket or in one of the smaller (but readily accessible) pockets in my backpack/brief case. However, the SPE TopPouch, with its built-in, rigid belt clip, made me rethink my approach.

First, the belt clip is very stiff and kind of frustrating to use UNLESS you always wear a belt (I don’t). It fits the belt so tightly that I feared belt fatigue (an occurrence that takes place when the leather on the belt gets marked, scared and worn out due to the constant rubbing of the leather enclosed, stiff metal clip). Maybe like most things leather (say comfy shoes from Nordstroms), this clip will relax after a while.

On the plus side, the magnetic clasp was awesome. It did its job well – holding the Centro in place. In fact, I did several drop tests (like the one where I bounce it down my carpeted staircase) and the Centro did not budge. All good!

To take the Centro out of the case, I merely unfastened the clasp, and grabbed the top of the device. It slid out with a slight tug. Another way that worked was to hold the clasp in one hand and push the Centro out from on the earphone cutout in the bottom of the case.


The SPE TopPouch isn’t for everyone. You really have to think about how you use your Centro and whether the trade-offs are worth it. The way I see it, if I am going to a meeting, I will probably dress up my Centro in a TopPouch. But for everyday use, I’ll stick with my crystal-style case.

So if you are looking for a classy, unobtrusive way to carry and protect your Centro while on the go, at the fine price point of $24.95, the SPE TopPouch is a great solution. In fact, you might want to check out three other two-toned color offerings and do some accessorizing to match your wardrobe.

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Design 5
Usability 3
Protection 5
Cost/Benefit 5
(not an average)
  • Incredibly classy looking
  • Strong magnetic flap and snug fit keep your Centro secure
  • Padded interior offers additional protection
  • Cons
  • Belt clip a bit too tight, difficult to put on and take off
  • Belt clip rigid - only works one way (no ratcheting capability)
  • Slow on the draw - Centro cannot be removed quickly

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