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PDA Case Review Roundup: Cases for the HP iPAQ 5000 Series: Vaja, Piel Frama, E&B, Proporta and CASESonline

Vaja Flip Top Leather Case for iPAQ plus standard CF Sleeve

Vaja has become the Mercedes of PDA cases. You can read our general review of several of their cases for other PDAs here. They use top quality leather and each case has the story of Vaja cases stamped into the interior back section of the case, giving you that sense of old world charm and class.The case sells for $54.90 without a belt clip and to $58.90 US with a belt clip. You can order it with customizations such as embossing, different card slot configurations, matching interior leather lining and different colors for an additional fee. It takes about 20 days for your case to be made, while the standard model is usually ready to go.

We received standard black case without an Ultra Clip belt clip for review. Like all Vaja cases, it has a metal Vaja emblem on the front flap and the Vaja story embossed inside the case. The front flap has an attractive embossed pebbled leather texture, and the sides and back of the case are finely-grained smooth leather. The sides and "flippable" portion are made of very flexible leather making it easy to get the iPAQ in and out, and easy to open and close the case. The back panel leather is still and supporting, and the front flip has a rigid insert and padding to protect your iPAQ's screen.

The case has a snap closure. Inside the flip cover you'll find two credit card slots, two SD card slots and a larger area behind these slots where you can store paper money, receipts or business cards.

The Vaja case has a cut out for the WiFi antenna and volume up/down rocker button. The top of the iPAQ is unobscured when the case is open so the speaker, power button, LEDs and SD slot are exposed. The case has a cut out for the headphone jack so you'll be able to listen to MP3s while the iPAQ is in its case. The reset button is also easy to get to, as are the front buttons. You can sync via cable but not cradle while the iPAQ is in its case.

This is a very well made case that looks very classy. Not many manufacturers make cases for sleeved iPAQs, and this is one of the nicest available. The leather is soft where it should be and rigid where it should be, and the case wears very well over the course of time.

Vaja iPAQ 5555 case Vaja case

side view

Piel Frama Case

Piel Frama is always on my short list for leather PDA cases. Located in Spain, a country that's well known for leather-making, Piel Frama offers a wide selection of cases for many PDAs and mobile phones. You can read our general review of many of their cases for other PDAs here.

We received their crocodile leather model for review, which sells for 90 Euros (~$99 US). The case is also available in ostrich for the same price or cow skin leather for 60 Euros (~$67 US). The crocodile case is available in black, while the ostrich is tan. The cow skin case is available in black, tan and black and tan. The case is finished in crocodile with cow skin leather sides and cow skin inside. The crocodile finish looks elegant and has a tasteful sheen and the cow skin leather is of excellent quality and is tightly grained and aromatic. The case has a rear magnetic closure that works very well, and has a removable belt clip. I love their magnetic closure: no velcro noise, and no fiddling to align a snap! The stitching matches the case color and is finely done.

The case's cover and back are reasonably rigid, offering good protection for your iPAQ. The case is contour-cut, following the iPAQ's curved lines. Since it's a flip case, all top-mounted items such as the power button, SD card slot, speaker and LEDs are easily accessible. The front of the case is quite open, and it doesn't get in the way of the buttons or sync port (you'll still need to remove the iPAQ from the case if you wish to sync using the cradle rather than a cable).

There's a cut out for the WiFi antenna, and headphone jack, reset button, bottom mic port and the volume rocker.

Inside the flip cover there are 2 SD card slots, 2 credit card slots and a larger slot that can hold money, receipts and etcetera. The flip has enough play so that the cards won't be pressed against your iPAQ's screen, unless you squeeze it into a tight pocket.

This is one of my favorite iPAQ cases, and I use it daily on my 5555. It looks absolutely gorgeous! The case adds relatively little bulk while providing good protection and easy access to the buttons and ports. Piel Frama also makes cases for the iPAQ with CF sleeve, PCMCIA sleeve, GPRS sleeve and even for the iPAQ with extended battery. In face, they are the only maker I'm aware of that makes a case for the iPAQ with the extended battery.



Piel Frama iPAQ 5550 crocodile case


Piel Frama case


E & B Slipper Slim Leather Case

The slim, custom-fitted, Slipper black leather case from E&B Cases is attractive, provides good protection and is convenient to use. Constructed in fine Napa cowhide leather, the Slipper case feels soft in your hands and rigid on the edges thanks to re-enforced inserts. Your iPAQ can be easily slid in and out of the case and once inside, the unit feels very secure. The case is a flip cover model with a small magnetic closure that is strong enough to keep the cover shut securely.

You will find cutouts for all ports, making them accessible while the unit is placed inside the case. The volume rocker, headphone jack and the reset button are very easy to get to. Since it’s a flip cover case, top-mounted items such as the the speaker, power button, LEDs and SD card and stylus are exposed when you open the flip cover. There is a cutout on the top of the case for the antenna. There's a cut out for the sync port on the bottom, and you can sync via a cable but not cradle when the unit is in the case.

On the front of the unit, the Slipper case covers only about half inch around the iPAQ, leaving the screen fully exposed and all the front buttons naked. The flip cover has two business card slots and two SD card slots inside a long pocket (to prevent the cards from touching the screen. E&B Cases suggests that you do not store credit cards in this case since there is a magnetic strip.

The Slipper leather case adds very little bulk to your iPAQ. It feels comfortably in your hands and it looks professional in fine black leather with a small stylish E&B badge on the cover. The leather feels very soft and easy to work with, yet the rigid inserts provide good protection for both the screen and the unit itself. The case sells for $36.95, and $39.95 with a belt clip.



E & B case E & B case for iPAQ 5555



Proporta Aluminum Case

If you're in the market for a hard case that will help your iPAQ survive bangs and whacks, the Proporta case is a great choice. Made of aluminum, the case is rigid yet lightweight (1.7 ounces) and adds very little bulk to your PDA. The interior of the case is lined with neoprene so the iPAQ won't be scratched. The iPAQ snaps snuggly into the case, firmly anchoring against the sleeve connector cut out and it will definitely stay in place.

The case's edges are nicely machined and smooth so they won't cause you any pain on contact, and the hinges are sturdy and operate easily. The case closes via a compression clip on the right side, and the front door has a gentle bevel cut that leaves the speaker, power and LEDs exposed. The sync connector cut out allows you to sync or charge the iPAQ via cable, but not cradle. The top left side of the case has a cut out for the volume up/down rocker, and the reset hole and mic are exposed on the bottom for easy access.

An extremely sturdy case that will offer a great deal of protection while adding very little weight and bulk. It sells for $39.95 US.



Proporta iPAQ 5500 aluminum case Proporta aluminum case




CASESonline Cases

CASESonline is an HP partner, and they make the lovely leather case included with the iPAQ 5500 series models. Their selection of iPAQ cases is simply amazing, offering 10 different case designs that are each available in quite a few styles (leather finishes and colors). Whatever your needs and tastes may be, chances are they have a case to suit. Their cases are well-crafted, stylish and custom designed to fit each iPAQ model.

Deluxe Case, Madison Avenue Edition $64.75

The Deluxe case is available in no less that 11 different styles, each of which is available in several colors. We received the Madison Avenue model in tan, which is made of leather that has a smooth, glossy finish that looks top quality and luxurious. The Deluxe model isn't intended to be a slim case (CASESonline also makes slim cases). Rather it's a full-featured model that has a refillable paper notepad that mounts facing the iPAQ screen, and a wallet which closes with a separate snap (see middle photo, right). The wallet has a section for paper money, slots for three credit cards, two SD cards and a compartment suitable for your driver's license under a plastic window.

Both the cover and back sections are reinforced and are quite rigid, and they also have padding. The iPAQ slides into the case and is held in place by a molded leather surround. It truly fits like a glove and the PDA will stay firmly in place. A stylus holder sits to the left of the iPAQ. The case is held closed by a tab closure, and the inner wallet has an additional snap closure.

There are cut outs for the headphone jack, reset hole and sync port on the bottom. The top area is cut down so as to not obscure the speaker, LEDs and power button. You can connect the PDA to a sync cable but not cradle while in the case. The top of the iPAQ is exposed, so you'll have no problem getting to the SD slot and stylus.

This case is a strong contender! It has a very high quality look, a molded surround that holds the iPAQ firmly in place and plenty of protection. If you're looking for a wallet + PDA case combo, this is a strong contender. It's functional, well made and looks very classy. If you're interested in slimmer cases, do check out their other offerings.



CASESonline iPAQ 5555

CASESonline iPAQ

sleeve case for iPAQ 5550





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