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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 myself.

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 another.

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 elements:
1) Quality;
2) Functionality;
3) Style;
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

Proporta designed 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 card holder.

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 white stitching.
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 case.
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!

Web site:

Price: $33



Proporta case for Dell Axim X50


case open


side view

Piel Frama Tan Leather Case

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

This 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 are plugged-in.

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 do so.

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 it.
My "Gut": 9.0. The sweetest case of the bunch, even without the reset hole.

Web site:

Price: ~ $54



Piel Frama Axim X50v leather case


back of case

Piel Frama case open

Next -> Page 2: Covertec, Innopocket, Bellagio and Sena Case Reviews



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