Dell Axim X50 and X50v Case Review Roundup: Proporta Aluminum Lined Leather, Piel Frama Leather, Sena
Leather, Bellagio Design, Covertec Leather, and Innopocket Magnesium
Review Posted June 2005 by Andrew D. Goldstein (xdalaw)
Like many of you, I get excited whenever I can figure out a good
excuse to buy a new PDA. Recently, I was able to convince my wife
that it made sense for me to replace my Dell
Axim X3i, with a brand
new Dell Axim X50v. When I was done pleading my case, I even convinced
One of the things I enjoy most about getting a new PDA is accessorizing
it. Memory cards, screen protectors, and charging options, all must
be considered when you get your new machine. But, as important and
interesting as these items are to shop for, nothing beats choosing
a case or two for your new toy.
Choosing a PDA case is a very important decision for most of us.
Aside from offering important protection for our beloved machines,
the choice we make tells others a lot about your personality, style,
and mindset. Well, maybe not for normal people, but for those of
us who really get excited about technology, it can.
I am in a really unique position because I get to write a case
roundup for MobileTechReview. I was lucky enough to do it last year for a
number of X3/X30 cases, and I'm lucky enough to be able to do it
again for my X50v.
What makes this type of review different (I hope), is that I have
had a chance to play with, to use, and to really spend time with
a bunch of different cases all at the same time. To me, that's what
makes these roundups unique and valuable.
This is in contrast to reviewing a different case every couple of
weeks, and in so doing, write a series of independent and singular
reviews. Those separate reviews might be more technical and comprehensive,
but I think that is less helpful to most shoppers who are most interested
in finding out how these cases stack up against one another.
So, to that end, I try to assess them all in relation to one another.
I feel like I can best compare them when I have them all in front
of me at the same time.
Like I said, I'm a lucky guy!
As I surveyed this batch of cases, they seemed
to fall into two general categories for me: they were either "case-style" cases
or they were "holster-style" cases.
What do I mean by these terms? For me, the "case-style" case
really covers and protects more of the PDA body, while the "holster-style" case
covers much of the PDA body, but seems designed to show-off and to
expose as much of the Axim's style as possible-especially the sides.
Since you presumably like the style of the X50 that you bought, that's
not necessarily a bad thing, but it does distinguish one case from
In this roundup, we are fortunate to have so many high quality options
from which to choose. While I certainly favored some more than others,
I can honestly say that I'd be quite happy to have any of these cases
wrapped around my X50v.
This review includes brief descriptions of notable features of each
case, along with a numeric rating-with 10 representing the ideal,
and 1 representing the worst--of five different but interrelated
4) Value; and
5) My "Gut" Overall Verdict.
Note that the "Gut" verdict is not a numeric average of
the other ratings, but is instead a final "big picture/can't
really put into words" evaluation. It's almost like a psychiatrist's "ink-blot" test.
I am not a technical writer or an engineer. As a result, I don't
write that kind of review. I write for non-technical people (like
me), or those technical people who want to understand how the rest
of us look at these things. What I hope to offer is an honest overview,
comparison, and opinion-admittedly subjective. While different people
have different needs and priorities when choosing a case, I want
my case to fit well, look good, and offer adequate protection for
my Pocket PC.
Proporta Aluminum Lined Leather PDA Case
The Proporta model
is a stylish black leather flip case. It comes with a removable
belt clip. The case sells for about $33.00. (not including
shipping and tax, if applicable.) This is the least expensive
of the five cases reviewed here.
First impression: The Proporta is what
I call a "holster-style" case.
It's a beautifully manufactured case, which boasts a simple,
refined, and modern look. Like other Proporta leather cases
I've used, this case was easy on the eyes and soft to the touch.
And, its black leather is accented by perfectly spaced white
thread stitching, and an embossed logo on the lower right front
of the case. The result is a really good-looking case. My greatest
disappointment is that the designers continue to utilize a
special clip to secure the PDA in the case.
Design comments and features
some unique elements in their leather flip case. The Axim
is held in place by two leather covered clips which grip the
side of the unit (just below the mid-line). The fit is precise,
and the Axim does fit well in the case.
The clips are firm and strong, and they are probably the best
implementation of that type of design, but I think it's a little
too minimalist for practical purposes. Maybe it's me, but I
don't trust it to hold my expensive PDA securely. While I've
never had a problem with my Axim slipping out of the case,
I fear it could. I won't take that risk.
But, in order to use an otherwise beautiful case, I tried
a quick and simple modification. By attaching a small piece
of self-stick Velcro to the back of the Axim and to the opposite
section of the Proporta case, I was able to add some piece
of mind (and a little more thickness to the package). The small
Velcro has not prevented me from removing the PDA to place
it in the sync cradle, and if you don't use a cradle, it won't
be a problem at all.
The case lid is held closed by a magnetic snap on the front
side. The force is strong enough to hold it closed in normal
use. Like the other magnetic covers, however, it might not
hold too securely if the Axim were thrown in a bag or briefcase
with other items to bump into.
The case is light-weight but feels
quite sturdy. This is partially accomplished by a design
which includes a thin aluminum plate that helps to stiffen
the front lid. (Proporta calls this the "Aluminum
Screen Saver.") While it might not "take a bullet," it
does seem quite strong.
The lid also has slots for two SD cards.
Separating the underside of the lid from the screen of your
PDA is a removable "divider" which
also serves as a visible identification holder and single credit
This case is designed to expose all of the buttons on the
left-hand side of the PDA when it's in the case. The screen
is also fully accessible. Proporta has cut-out a handy notch
in the lid to expose the headphone jack. The cutout allows
you to open and close the lid while the headphones are plugged-in.
Unfortunately, there is no hole for accessing the soft reset
button on the rear of the PDA. That is disappointing, since
it seems like it would have been easy to include in the design.
The X50 can be charged while in the case, so long as you are
using a cable, and so long as you unsnap the lid.
Because this is a flip case, any accessory sticking out of
the compact flash [CF] or secure digital [SD] card slots (i.e.,
certain cameras or 56K modems) must be removed before closing
the lid to the case.
Final thought and Rating: I do like this case, except for
the brackets which secure the PDA in the case. But, even with
that flaw, the case is still super.
Quality: 8.0. Beautiful, soft leather, with sharp and subtle
Functionality: 7.5. A well-designed flip-case, but I don't
like the retention clips and
it's limited protection for the sides of the Axim.
Style: 8.5. Simple and handsome. A very good looking and professional
Value: 7.5. A fair price for a fine case.
My "Gut": 8.0. If the PDA was more securely attached,
I'd immediately give it a 9.0!
The Piel Frama is a cowskin flip case. It sells for about
$54.00 (not including shipping and tax, if applicable.) The
case comes with a removable belt clip. Piel Frama also offers
a similar case which can accommodate the extended battery.
This is the most expensive case reviewed here.
First impression: The Piel Frama is what I call a "case-style" case.
The design is not much different than my X3i case, simple,
functional, and very high-end. I fell in love with my last
Piel Frama, and this, too, was a case of love at first sight.
Piel Frama found a good design, stuck with it, and modified
it to work with the constant flow of new PDAs.
Design comments and features
case is available in three color schemes: black, tan and,
black & tan. My last one
was black, so I decided to try the tan one this time.
Simple, elegant, and well-designed, this leather flip-case
easily fits inside of a suit-jacket pocket. While not the slimmest
of all the cases I'm comparing, it is thin enough. When you
first hold the case, you can tell that the cowskin is wonderfully
fine leather. It looks great and feels buttery.
The front and back covers are padded slightly, which adds
to the case's soft and supple feel. Yet, it also feels as though
it would provide some protection if it were to fall to the
floor. The flip cover has pockets for three credit cards and
slots for two SD cards.
The cover is secured by a snap tab. The tab snaps under and
attaches to the back of the case, which helps to give the front
a very simple and elegant appearance. (The Bellagio's tab also
snaps in the rear, while the Covertec, and the Proporta each
have a tab that snaps on the front of the case.)
The Axim fits snugly inside of the case. The case is designed
to expose the entire front of the PDA, from the top of the
screen, to the bottom of the navigator and other buttons, except
for the outside edge which is covered to secure the Axim in
the case. The leather on the top of the screen is a little
shorter than the PDA's length, to fully expose the power button,
the microphone, and the Bluetooth and Wifi light.
The case has accurate cut-outs to allow access to the left-side
buttons, and to the headphone jack. Piel Frama designed a circular
hole on the top of the case to expose the headphone jack. Unlike
the cut-out notch used by Sena, Proporta, and Covertec, with
a round hole, you can't flip the lid completely over when headphones
As much as I love this case, I am disappointed in one thing.
Piel Frama neglected to add a cut-out hole to access the reset
button on the back of the X50. I don't know about you, but
I need to access that button frequently enough, that it is
a minor annoyance having to take the PDA out of the case to
The Axim can be charged while in the case, although it won't
fit in the sync cradle. You'll need to use a sync cable in
the cutout on the bottom of the case.
As noted above, because this is a flip case, any accessory
sticking out of the CF or SD card slots must be removed before
closing the lid to the case.
Final thoughts & Rating:If you can afford it, the Piel
Frama is a wonderful case. I think it's the finest case in
this batch of excellent cases.
Quality: 9.5. Gorgeous leather and accurate cut-outs.
Functionality: 8.5. Slim design with optional belt-clip, but
missing reset cut-out.
Style: 9.0. Handsome, classic design.
Value: 6.0. A bit expensive, but worth it if you can swing
My "Gut": 9.0. The sweetest case of the bunch, even
without the reset hole.