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PalmOne Treo 650 Case Review Roundup: Vaja, Piel Frama, Sena, Proporta and Brando
Posted March 2005 by Lisa Gade, Editor in Chief

Read our review of the Treo 650 for Sprint, Cingular, Verizon and Unlocked GSM here.

Vaja i-volution T65 Leather Case

Vaja makes elegant and impressive cases for PDAs, phones and even the Apple iPod. Their reputation for quality customized cases is strong among members of the PDA community, and their i-volution line of cases represent the pinnacle of Vaja products.

The i-volution is a molded leather case which fits the Treo like a glove. Nothing looks or feels like an i-volution, but for those of you who've never seen one, we'll do our best to describe it. Leather is usually supple and easily bent, but Vaja cases are in fact molded, rigid affairs. They are made of leather and the grain and scent attest to that fact. The case's rigidity offers a great deal of protection for the Treo, and since the case is made of tightly conforming leather, it adds relatively little bulk.

The T65 i-volution has a mesh grill for the front and rear speakers and a cutout for the LED. The only other cutout is for the sync connector and mic since the top and the upper left sides of the case are open allowing easy access to the SD slot, stylus, volume controls and camera lens.

The case is designed as a phone case foremost and keeps everything easily accessible, including the display, rather than jacketing the entire device in leather as would a PDA case. Obviously the case will be unobtrusive, but the drawback is that the most delicate and expensive part of the Treo, its color display, goes unprotected. If you're generally careful with your Treo and use a screen protector, this design may work well for you; especially if you find it cumbersome to open a case to receive a call or view caller ID. If you do need screen protection, consider Vaja's T66, which we've reviewed here. The T66 is basically the T65 with a molded leather flip cover that opens from the top and costs $25 more. The T66 does add to the case's thickness, but it's worth it if you need screen protection.

The heart of the Vaja experience is customization and you can choose from an impressively large selection of colors and even opt for a two-tone scheme where the front and back panels are different colors. Designers and other artistic types will be happy to hear that you can choose by Pantone numbers. You can order your case with or without a belt clip and have it personalized with your name if you wish for an additional fee.

Web Site: www.vajacases.com

Price: Starting at $104.90

 

 

Vaja Ivolution for Treo 650
Vaja Treo case

side view

Piel Frama Cowskin Crocodile Leather Case

Crocodile makes a strong fashion statement, and Piel Frama's luxurious leather cases are all about fashion and protection. The outside surfaces are finished in crocodile with the classy reptilian gloss and grain you'd expect. The side and inner surfaces are finished in smooth, tightly grained black cowskin and the back panel is natural hide colored. Inside the case on the back panel, you'll find the Piel Frama logo and a statement telling you that the case has been hand made by their craftsmen and thus each piece is unique. Now doesn't that make for a lovely gift?

Of course, you want a case for its protective qualities, not just good looks, and their case does not disappoint. The supple leather holds the Treo firmly in its case and the sides and bottom are well protected. The sides hug the Treo yet it's not too difficult to get the device in and out of the case. Though there will be little reason to remove the Treo from the case unless you need to swap the battery, as all ports and controls are exposed for easy operation and syncing via cable. The top of the case is open and the SD slot, earpiece speaker, LED and SIM slot (for GSM models) are uncovered. Since this is a standard flip top case, the cover protects these exposed areas when the case is closed.

On the back of the case you'll find a mesh hole for the speaker and a belt clip mount. Recent Piel Frama cases feature a removable belt clip and even the mount is removable so you won't have a nasty metal knob sticking out the back. They include a small tool to install and remove the belt clip knob and a plastic insert that covers the hole.

There's a cutout on the front flap which is unique to the Piel Frama case. They tell us the hole should center over the spacebar, though on ours it was just above the spacebar. Why the spacebar? If accidentally pressed by a case's cover it can answer an incoming call (though this hasn't happened to us yet). To hold a phone conversation, you'll need to open the cover and flip it over the back of the Treo.

The cover has an ABS insert which provides rigidity and added screen protection. There are two SD Card slots and a business card slot inside the front cover. The back of the case is also rigid, with more supple leather attaching the flip cover to the back. The softer leather panel extends down just below the camera lens so you can fold the cover far enough back to take a photo without removing the Treo from the case. The cover has a magnetic flap closure (don't worry, case magnets won't hard your PDA but do keep them away from credit cards). Overall, the case isn't bulky at all but provides plenty of protection for your Treo.

If crocodile isn't your thing, Piel Frama makes Treo cases using the same design but finished entirely in cowskin leather in a selection of colors. They even offer an ostrich case for those who have even more eclectic tastes.

 

Web Site: www.pielframa.com

Price 90 Euros

Piel Frama Treo 650 case

Above: front view. Below, back view.

case open
back view

Sena Magnetic Flipper Leather Case

Sena makes high quality leather cases that are reasonably priced. The hallmark of a Sena case is its lack of bulk; while some cases add considerably to a PDA or phone's thickness, Sena cases use thin yet strong leather, adding relatively little to the girth of your prize PDA. Their Treo 650 case is no exception: the back and sides are comprised of thin, supple leather that protect the device's finish and add modest bump protection. The cover is thicker, as it should be, to protect the delicate LCD and has slots for two SD cards and a business card slot.

Sena really considered how the Treo 650 is used in every way, from phoning to photo-taking to PDA use. Their design is thus unique and makes for one of my favorite Treo cases. Case in point: while most PDA and smartphone cases have the flip cover attached at the top, the Sena case's cover attaches at the bottom. The result? It's much easier and faster to answer a call because you can flip open the magnetic cover with a thumb and the cover will drop down out of the way. No need to unfasten a snap, open the cover and fold it over the back of the device to answer a call. Nice. If the hanging cover does both you, consider a standard flip-top design such as Piel Frama's; though it hasn't bothered me in the least.

The case has a cutdown in the back for the camera lens so you need not bend a top flip far enough back to expose the lens or take the device out of its case. Instead, just point and shoot. Of course, the drawback is that the lens goes unprotected, so if you're terribly rough and tumble with your Treo, you may want to consider the Piel Frama or Proporta aluminum cases in this review. Having used the Sena case on my Treo 650 for a month (carried in pocket, purse and hand), nothing has happened to the lens so far.

The Treo 650 is held securely in the case with leather wrapping both sides and the bottom. The top leather flap is held shut by a snap on the rear and ensures that the Treo can't slide out of the case. You will need to unfasten the snap to insert or remove an SD card but that takes less than a second and you need not remove the PDA from the case. The volume on/off slider is easily accessible and you need not unsnap the case flap. To sync the Treo using its included cable, simply open the cover and insert the cable into the Treo.

Sena cases are made of good quality leather and are available in a variety of colors, including two-tone color combos such as black/red and black/blue that look super. Solid colors include black, tan (pictured) and red. The case is available with and without a ratcheting belt clip.

 

Web Site: www.senacases.com

Price: $43.99 ($46.99 with belt clip)

Sena case for Treo 650
Sena case open
back of sena case

Proporta Aluminum Case

There are those of us who aren't so sure-handed with our phones and PDAs, or must carry them in amongst the clutter in backpacks, gadget bags and the like. Leather is nice but not enough if you're carrying the device in a mixed bag of tricks or have an unfortunate tendency to drop your PDA with some frequency. Proporta has the answer: their aluminum hard case for the Treo 650. The case is made of aircraft grade aluminum and is in fact so rigid that I stepped on the case without bending it or leaving a dent. I did avoid stepping on the clear plastic window which obviously isn't designed to take such abuse, but does add a wonderful touch of usability and protection.

Unlike some aluminum cases that completely cover the display or have a small cutout in the front to reveal a small section of the display, the Proporta case protects the display with plastic window yet allows you to see the entire display. Excellent! When the case is closed you will be able to send and end calls, use the directional pad and the application buttons thanks to the cutout below the display. Openings for the earpiece speaker and the mic mean you can talk on the phone when it's in the case and need not leave the hinged case door flapping against your cheek.

The case opens on the left and hinges on the right. When open you can use the keyboard and touch screen unfettered. All other controls are easily accessible: there's a cutout on the left side for the volume controls, a hole for the LED, and a grille opening for the rear speaker. The top of the case is open except for the lip of the cover while wraps around the top edge of the Treo. This allows easy access to the SD card and SIM slots, as well as the sound on/off slider.

Rubber grips on the sides help you keep an otherwise slippery case in hand, and all inside surfaces are lined with soft, shock absorbent neoprene. The case's bottom opening allows you to sync and charge the Treo yet wraps around sufficiently to protect the delicate corners.

 

Web Site: www.proporta.com

Price: $33.95

 

Proporta Treo 650 aluminum case
back view

side view

Brando Silicon Case

Silicon cases are all the rage these days, and for a device that functions as a phone, they make perfect sense. Phone users want easy and quick access to all controls and the display to make initiating and answering calls a breeze. They don't want added bulk since they take their phones everywhere, and often tuck them in a pocket.

Not only that, the Treo is notoriously slippery, and there are those who'd forgo a case were it not for the fact the device has a nasty way of slipping out of hand. Brando's Silicon Case for the Treo 650 comes to the rescue: the grippy surface keeps the Treo safely in hand while protecting it from scratches. Of course, the drawback is that the screen goes unprotected, making this a perfect choice for those who are careful with the display or would otherwise carry the Treo naked.

Brando's Silicon case literally fits like a latex glove. You'll slide the unit gradually into the case from the top opening, and once seating inside the Treo sits snug and safe. All cut outs are perfectly aligned, and there are cut outs for the keyboard, sync port, headphone jack, LED, front and rear speakers, mic, SD card slot/IR port/volume switch, antenna and stylus. Silicon covers the front application buttons and the side volume controls, but these are easy to operate under their silicon cover. Unlike some other silicon cases, the Brando case maintains its shape and has adequate stiffness to prevent case-stretching that's both annoying and might lead to the device slipping out of its silicon suit. Good going! The case comes with a lanyard carry strap, though there is no mount point for the strap. Perhaps it could loop through the stylus and top opening. The case is available in Ice (pictured) and Blue.

Web Site: shop.brando.com.hk

Price: $20 US

brando silicon treo 650 case
back of case

Brando Workshop Leather Pouch Case for the Treo 600 and Treo 650

And now something for the horizontal belt clip crowd. Guys like to carry their PDAs and phones on their belts, and horizontal cases don't poke them in the love handles or otherwise interfere with workday calisthenics. If that describes you, check out Brando's case which is reasonably priced, yet very well made.

The case is made of black leather with white contrasting stitching. The leather is extremely soft to the touch and very smooth, and padding underneath the outer leather surfaces protect the Treo from daily bumps with office partitions and desk edges. To put the Treo 650 in the case, simply open the top flap and slide it in. The case's magnetic snap closure is easy to open and close and shuts tightly keeping the Treo safely inside.

While many PDA cases use removable plastic belt clip mechanisms, Brando's case has a leather-wrapped large clip that holds onto your belt using compression. The case isn't too hard to get or off your belt, yet it managed to stay in place in our tests. If you're in the market for a horizontal case, Brando's is well made and reasonably priced.

Web Site: shop.brando.com.hk

Price: $32 US

Brando leather Treo 600 case
Brando leather Treo 650 case
top view

 

 

 

 

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