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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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)
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.