Proporta Silcone Case & Aluminum Case for PalmOne Treo 600/650

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, June 2005
Available at : Proporta
Requires: PalmOne Treo 600 or 650
MSRP: S$19.95 (silicone), $33.95 (aluminum)

Dropping a PDA smartphone, especially a beautifully converged device such as a PalmOne Treo 600 or 650, is an art form. The Treo is a well-designed device which doesn't easily slip from even the most casual grasp. So the 'art' involved in dropping it requires a level of intellectual distraction that is remarkable to behold. The graceful arc which the Treo describes as it travels inexorably earthward terminates in a shocking clatter. Picking up the poor device after such an abrupt end to its fateful dive is rather like shaking Maracas—heartbreaking in this case that is to say. Methinks a protective case is in order; a case which protects the device while allowing access to its keyboard and hardware buttons.

Proporta offers a wide selection of protective cases for a wide variety of devices: smartphones, PDAs, cell phones, music players, GPS units, laptops, cameras and so on. Proporta is actually one of the largest online sources for every sort of case and accessory you can think of for portable devices, so when the subject of product reviews came up, we jumped at the chance to try out some of their wares.

The PalmOne Treo 600/650 series of PDA smartphones is arguably one of the best products of its kind on the market today. With popularity comes abuse, no doubt, and about the only way to preserve the functionality and usefulness of a 600 or 650 is to cover it in something which can withstand and absorb impacts while transferring as little force or energy to the enclosed device as possible. Silicone performs the task admirably. Immediately after stretching the case open and shoving in my Treo 650, I promptly dropped the thing on my hardwood office floor. Amazingly, there was no damage (to the Treo or the floor), yet more evidence that silicone is genuinely useful in this sort of application.

The best part about the silicone case is that it takes only a day or so to get used to the feel before you start to truly believe that you'll never go back to an unprotected Treo again. Silicone is very grippy in most applications, with an excellent strength to weight ratio, and as stated above, remarkable impact absorbing abilities too. Cradle and cable HotSyncing is unobstructed, so you can leave the Treo in the silicone case permanently. The silicone case provides full access to the touch screen and the keyboard. The belly band of the case covers the hardware buttons, but they remain usable after a fashion.

Aluminum is a funny material, alternately strong in some applications, unappealingly malleable in others. For this particular application, Proporta has chosen an aluminum case with the ability to withstand significant impacts without denting—just the right gauge or thickness of metal. That's a good thing, especially considering how terrible a dented metal case looks when it's sitting on a meeting room table. The case is lined with a dense, thin foam or polyurethane layer that does a great job of protecting the Treo's glossy exterior from scratches and impacts. Although bulkier (about 29mm vs 23mm for the silicone case), it's still as form-fitting as possible in an all metal design. The belt clip is well-designed, with a mounting point well above the center point of the case back. That positioning allows the case to ride low on the belt and swing vertical all the time, keeping it out of your way but ready to hand as well. The Treo 600/650 is clearly designed primarily with right-handers in mind and the Proporta case has ribbed, grips with rubber inserts on the exterior in just the right places. If you still manage to drop this one, you're probably as dopey as me.

Cons: There is sufficient tension across the belly band of the silicone case to activate hardware buttons with a casual brush of your hand or by excess pressure in the surface while the case is being carried in a briefcase or bag—a bit of time is required to accustomize yourself. Keyboard and touch screen access is only available in the aluminum case by opening the front cover, though you do have full access to the hardware buttons. I'd love to see a silicone case with a belt clip in addition to the lanyard.

Pros: Extremely well made cases. The silicone version is cleanly finished, neatly trimmed and perfectly sized. The aluminum version has nicely radiused corners and edges throughout, making it surprisingly comfortable to hold and use. The weight of both cases is insignificant. The belt clip mount on the aluminum case is drilled well above the rotation point, enabling the Treo to ride low and vertical on the belt. The wrist/neck lanyard supplied with the silicone case is strong but softly finished to avoid chafing on the wrist and the back of the neck. The lanyard mount held up to an enormous amount of stretch (about 30 pounds of tension) before we abandoned the test, making it one of the strongest mounts we've ever seen. Both cases provide access to all ports (headphone, SD storage card, etc.). I used both cases for about four weeks, alternating days, before my admin assistant grabbed the silicone version for herself and refused to give it back. The aluminum version continues to stand up to some heavy abuse (some of it deliberate I confess), on job sites, rattling around in dropped briefcases, being knocked off desks and chairs and so on. Both of the Treos used by my admin and me have been, for the first time since we purchased them, completely protected in these cases from Proporta. It is senseless to purchase a Treo 600/650 without also acquiring a usable protective case. Try these ones. Highly recommended.

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