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PDA Case Reviews

Piel Frama Black Leather Case

This is a black leather flip case. But it is really so much more.

The Piel Frama is beautiful. The case sells for about $48.00. The case comes with a removable belt clip.

First impression : When I opened the maroon and tan box, and got through the dark green tissue paper wrapping, it felt like I was opening a Christmas present. The packaging is refined and classy, reminiscent of a Ralph Lauren version of a light-blue Tiffany box.

When I got to the leather case itself, I was not disappointed. What a beautiful case! It feels nice and smells better. In fact, I couldn't wait to try this with my X3i, to see how it would look and fit.

Design comments and features : I tested the black leather case. (Piel Frama also sells a tan and a black & tan version of the same case.) The leather is superior quality.

Simple, elegant, and well-designed, this leather flip-case easily fits inside of a suit-jacket pocket. That is what I look for in my “weekday” case. I am also impressed to think that this was one of the first cases released for the X3 series. Usually you have to wait a while for the top-of-the-line case manufacturers to release their cases for newer PDAs, since they often supply cases for a number of different PDA's, cell phones, and other electronic equipment.

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 slots for three credit cards and two SD cards, but I wouldn't feel comfortable with these pressing up against my Axim's screen.

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 case has cut-outs to allow access to the stylus, the jog-dial and headphone jack, the speaker and reset button. There is a cut-out for the power button and for the microphone on the front of the PDA.

The Dell-supplied sync connector fits well inside of another cutout on the bottom of the case.

The wifi antenna fits through the top of the flip case via an oval cut-out.

Final thoughts: If you can afford it (or, if someone's looking to buy you a really cool gift), and if you want a first-class leather case for your X3i, run—don't walk—to get this case!


Quality: 9.5. Gorgeous leather and accurate cut-outs.

Functionality: 9. Slim design with optional belt-clip.

Style: 9.5. Handsome, classic design.

Value: 6. A bit expensive, but worth it if you can swing it.

Overall: 9.5. Super! The nicest case I've ever had.

Web Site:, $48




Piel Frama Dell Axim case

Piel Frama case

Sena Red and Black Leather Case

This is another leather flip case. But, it's also the jazziest case in the bunch!

The Sena is a very nice case. The case sells for about $40.00. The case can be purchased with a belt clip for about $5.00 more. The price puts this case in the middle to upper-end on the price scale for available X3i cases.

First impression : The Sena case comes packed inside of a bright red box, with bold white lettering. The case, itself, is packed inside of a little cloth pouch. Even the packaging announces that the Sena case is a quality product.

The case is really cool! I was immediately struck by the bold color combination and swooping design on the front, flip cover, and on the inside of the case. The front cover is held down with a couple of small, round magnets, stitched into the case, between layers of leather.

Design comments and features : While I tested the red and black case, Sena also sells this case with other color combinations, as well as in a basic black--for more conservative folks. While the leather is fine quality, it is not as soft or luxurious as the Piel Frama. If the Sena is a top of the line Toyota, the Piel Frama might be the best Lexus.

Simple, snazzy, and slim, this leather flip-case easily fits inside of a suit-jacket pocket. This case elicited more compliments and comments than the other cases listed above.

The front and back covers are not padded, but the case feels firm and offers the Axim some protection. As noted above, the case is held closed via magnets. While this keeps the case closed in normal use, even when “closed,” there is still a 2 or 3 millimeter gap between the flip cover and “bottom” part of the case. I'm tempted to keep pressing the lid down--despite the fact that it's already closed. I must admit that this is a bit of a pet peeve of mine. I am not crazy about the magnetic closure cases. I used to have another case for my X5 with a magnetic closure (an EB Cases Slipper). I found that the magnets just weren't powerful enough. They'll hold the case closed until a little force is applied. At that point, the magnetic pull gives out and the screen of your PDA is clearly exposed and vulnerable. With this in mind, if you plan to carry your X3i in the inside chest pocket of a blazer, you'll be fine. If you plan on throwing the X3i in your bag, you'd be crazy.

One nice feature with the magnetic closure is that you can completely close the lid on the Axim while it is connected to a charge or sync cable, locking out dust or potential damage to the screen. With snap closures, the “tab” gets in the way.

The flip cover has a slot for a few business cards or for a credit card. There are also slots for two SD cards. In addition, this case is unique, in that it can also fit a small mirror (sold separately by Sena) in a slot within the inside cover, reminiscent of a makeup “compact” case.

The Axim fits perfectly inside of the case. I think this might be the best fit of all the cases. The Sena design exposes the entire screen and the buttons on the front of the X3i, but it also incorporates a thin leather strip between the two areas, to help to secure the

PDA inside the case. The concept is similar to the Krusell, but the execution is far superior in the Sena.

The case has cut-outs to allow access to the stylus, the jog-dial and headphone jack, the speaker and reset button. There is a single cut-out for the power button and for the microphone on the front of the PDA.

The Dell-supplied sync connector fits well inside of another cutout on the bottom of the case

The wifi antenna fits through the top of the flip case via an oval cut-out.

In fact, I think that the various cut-outs on the Sena case are the most precise of all of the X3i cases I've reviewed. They really are just about perfect.

Final thoughts: If you want a beautiful, thin, leather case for your X3i, and you are bored with basic black leather or silver aluminum, this might be the case for you. This is also a case that grew on me the more I used it, due to its looks, slim form, and precise fit.


Quality: 8.5. Nice leather and perfect cut-outs.

Functionality: 8. Slim design with optional belt-clip. Magnetic closure might be its

Achilles heel for some people.

Style: 9. Snazzy and cool design.

Value: 7. Not the cheapest, but a top-quality leather case, at a reasonable price.

Overall: 8.5. Great case. If only it had a snap-closure!

Web Site:, $40




Sena Leather PDA case


Sena Case

PDair Leather Book Type Case

The PDair leather book type case is a fine quality black leather case designed to resemble a leather, paper organizer, or folio-case. The case is not available with a belt clip. The case sells for about $32.00. The price puts this case in the middle to upper-end on the price scale for available X3i cases.

First impression: I did not think that I would use a case with a folio-design. As with belt-clips, it might be right for some, but just not for me. As noted above, I prefer to carry my PDA in a jacket pocket, so a slim form is preferred.

However, I must admit that when I got this case and began to handle it and use it, I was pretty impressed! While the type is still not my favorite, this is a really fine case.

Design comments and features: The case is well constructed of soft black leather, with good attractive white stitching. The feel is a lot like the Piel Frama.

The Axim is held securely by clips in the case that resemble the pair of overhanging edges on the DSI aluminum case. Unlike the aluminum cases, these clips are covered in leather to protect the X3i's case and to match the rest of the PDair's leather.

The entire face of the PPC is exposed for easy access. Like the DSI and the Rhinoskin, the front cover of the PDair case swings open from left to right, as though you were opening a book cover backwards. It also latches closed firmly with a magnetic, snap closure. (This was pretty cool, as it looked just like a typical snap closure, but a magnetic pull of exposed metal helps to pull and keep the cover closed.

The case doesn't have any cut-outs, but all of the buttons and switches on the front, top, bottom, and sides are exposed when the case cover is opened.

I was disappointed to find that the PDair didn't have a cutout on the back of the case for the speaker or the reset button. I can't imagine it would have been very difficult to add those to the design, but for whatever reason, they're absent.

The Dell-supplied sync connector connects easily since the entire bottom of the X3i is exposed.

The front cover has generously sized slots for at least three credit cards and two SD cards. There is no reason to be concerned about the credit or SD cards scratching the Axim's screen if you choose to use the case with the supplied removable ID holder. The two-sided insert has a cloth side on the screen-side, and a see-through window on the other side to expose your credentials.

In addition, there is a perfectly sized pocket to carry another stylus if you wanted.

When the X3i is in the case, the top of the antenna is partially exposed. It sticks out about 1/8 of an inch above the top of the case. So, while an upside down drop might spell doom for your antenna, that's probably true of all of the cases reviewed in this article.

The PDair does not claim to offer the most protection of all available X3i cases, but if used with common sense and care, I am confident that it would provide decent protection.

It's funny, the impression I had of this case was that it was like any number of other “generic” PDA cases that happened to fit the Axim X3i. But, it's so much better than that. This case is great—if you like this style.

For what it's worth, it was my wife's favorite case of all of the ones I reviewed here, and, it's even growing on me.

Final thoughts: If you like a folio-style PDA case, don't hesitate to order this one. Soft leather, quality manufacturing, and classic good looks make this one of my favorite X3i cases.


Quality: 9. Beautiful, soft, leather, and sharp stitching.

Functionality: 7. Well-designed for a side-opening case, except for lack of speaker and

reset button cut-out.

Style: 8.5. Simple and handsome.

Value: 8. A fair price for a fine case.

Overall: 8.5. It must be good, my wife and I both like it!

Web, $32




PDair Case


PDAir Dell X3 case

Rating Summary Table

Here are the ratings for each case summarized in one easy to view table.

Piel Frama 9.5 9 9.5 6 9.5
Rhino 8.5 8 8 7 8.5
Pdair 9 7 8.5 8 8.5
Sena 8.5 8 9 7 8.5
Bellagio 8 8 8.5 7 7.5
DSI 7 5 6 8 7
Krusell 5 7 8 8 6


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