Home | Stories | Reviews | TreoCast | Treo Store | Accessories | Software | Discussion at webOS Nation | Mobile | About | Search
treocentral.com >> Products & Reviews >> Accessories
Speck Products ToughSkin

Mon Feb 27, 2006 - 2:51 PM EST - By Xious Sonenberg


I’ve often wondered why Palm didn’t design the Treo 650 with any kind of shock absorption technology, or why no one has ever made a Treo with Mil spec (or close to it) casing. Well there is the monstrous hundred dollar OtterBox, but that beast won’t fit in your pocket unless you’re Captain Kangaroo, and its total overkill for most folks’ needs.

Now you can have the benefit of a lower profile, but very rugged case with the rugged Speck ToughSkin.

When Speck’s new ToughSkin case arrived, it came entombed in a shiny blister pack. You know the kind: The indestructible “can’t open without C-4 explosives” heat-sealed packaging that retail stores insist on as an anti-shoplifting measure. One knife cut and two finger bandages later, I managed to get this rugged case out of its package. Also included is a clear plastic belt clip holster system.

I was immediately struck by how aggressively durable-looking this case is. On their site, Speck says the ToughSkin is made of a “Kraton - a special polymer (plastic). It's silicone free, durable, tear resistant and will last a long time” The case is available in either clear or black. I opted for the latter.

Considering the limited alternatives for truly heavy-duty Treo cases out there, I don’t like the feel of a hard case, and don’t think most hard cases provide any realistic shock absorbing properties. Normal silicone rubber skins may protect from scratches and nicks, but they do nothing if you drop your very fragile $500 phone on concrete.

The Speck ToughSkin case has one feature that some other skin cases lack: the buttons are clearly defined and overlaid individually with opaque black rubber. The case also has a clear plastic swivel-up window to protect your screen. I found this immensely useful to keep from accidentally tapping on-screen controls with my jaw or ears when talking to someone on the phone, but when I need to tap on the screen, to turn on the speakerphone, for example, the protective window is simple to flip up quickly or flip down again. The window is held in by a couple of pegs in slots. The pegs don’t look that fragile to me, and I’d hope they’re not, as this is a very ruggedized case designed for extreme lifestyles or on-the-job use, but only time will tell.

Cutouts are provided for the antenna, keyboard, screen, stylus, camera and the multi-connector on the bottom of your Treo. Rubber grilles protect the front earpiece and rear speaker.

The only major, in fact puzzling design flaws are the lack of openings for the infrared window and the SD card slot. This is a huge problem, as it literally forces you to wrestle off the case entirely if you want to change cards, or beam anything to another Palm. Someone who is adept with an X-Acto knife or a Dremmel may be able to carve out holes in the appropriate areas, though I have not yet tried this myself.

What was Speck thinking here? Did they forget that the Treo has an SD slot? If it weren’t for this problem I would give this case a much higher rating.

It is possible to beam through the case, though you have to make sure both Palms are on a flat, steady surface and are kissing right up against each other to do so. This makes beaming somewhat sluggish, and it’s a bummer when you get “Transmission interrupted” messages, but it can be done.

As you can see in the photo of the Treo on its side, the extremely grippy rubber material attracts specks of dust and lint like a magnet when it is riding around in your trouser pocket. Not a big deal, (but kind of funny, considering the mfr’s name is “Speck”), but if you want your case to look totally clean all the time, bring along that lint cloth.

Speaking of pockets, the case is not only very grippy, but fairly bulky, making it harder to put your Treo in a pocket, and a real pain to pull it out again. When quickly pulling it out of my pants pocket, the grippy case has literally turned my pocket inside out many times, spilling coins and other precious stuff I carry all over the ground. The ToughSkin also comes with a swivel holster to mount it outside your clothing, if you choose to go that route.

Using your 650 in this case will also force you to familiarize yourself with a different feel to the control buttons on the front and left side of your Treo.

That aside, the case does perform and hopefully protect exactly as Speck touts it, offering 90% coverage over your Treo in near Milspec rubber, although I wasn’t willing to climb up a telephone pole and drop it fifty feet onto pavement, just to find out exactly how protective it is. But with its fat bumpers and aggressive, almost sinister appearance, it also looks cool, especially for those Sci-Fi fans out there who want a futuristic look and feel.

Next Page: Conclusion >>

Treo accessory store
User Opinions
Thumbs Up 75% Thumbs Down 25%

Read Opinions (4)

Would you recommend Speck Products ToughSkin?
Yes   No  

Product Info

Sponsored Links

Speck Products ToughSkin from
TreoCentral Store

> Print this page
> Digg!


Copyright 1999-2016 TreoCentral. All rights reserved : Terms of Use : Privacy Policy

TREO and TreoCentral are trademarks or registered trademarks of palm, Inc. in the United States and other countries;
the TreoCentral mark and domain name are used under license from palm, Inc.
The views expressed on this website are solely those of the proprietor, or
contributors to the site, and do not necessarily reflect the views of palm, Inc.
Read Merciful by Casey Adolfsson