Products & Reviews
Speck Products ToughSkin
Mon Feb 27, 2006 - 2:51 PM EST - By
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> Overview Conclusion
Overview Ive often wondered why Palm didnt 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 wont fit in your pocket unless youre 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 Specks new ToughSkin case arrived, it came entombed in a shiny blister pack. You know the kind: The indestructible cant 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 dont like the feel of a hard case, and dont 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 dont look that fragile to me, and Id hope theyre 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 werent 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 its 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 mfrs 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 wasnt 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.
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