Protect your investment – keep it covered. I’ve had my Dell Axim for about six months now, and I take it with me wherever I go. I often keep the Axim in my shirt pocket, and I have to admit that more than once, it has slipped out and hit the deck. It would be safer in a case, but the vinyl standard issue Dell case is chunky and ugly, so I rarely use it. I recently tried out the Rhinoskin Aluminum hard case that is specially made to fit the Axim.
Image 1 - Rhinoskin Hard Case for Dell Axim
The Rhinoskin is a thing of beauty. The unit is a form fitting piece of brushed aluminum with a clam shell panel to cover the screen (image 1). The interior is lined with a neoprene material that protects the PDA from shocks, and helps to keep it in place. The inside also has two spring clips to keep the device from slipping out. The case has cutouts to accommodate the CF and SD card slots, the jog dial/voice recorder/soft reset buttons, the recharger/synch connections, and the front-mounted speaker. Thus, with the unit in place, you have access to all necessary controls and connections. (image 2, 3). The case also has raised nubs on the sides to give you a better grip. The front panel of the case is hinged on the right side, and snaps in place with a raised nylon bar on the left. Rhinoskin makes aluminum cases for other PDAs with a cover that slides up and down; the clamshell design is the only one available for the Axim.
Image 2 - Rhinoskin Hard Case for Dell Axim
Image 3 - Rhinoskin Hard Case for Dell Axim
In reviewing this case, I realized that the choice of case design is a matter of personal preference. With each design there are benefits and trade-offs. Within the category of form-fitting aluminum hard cases, I would have to say that the Rhinoskin is extremely well executed. Therefore, some of the cons listed below relate to the overall type of case, and not specifically to the Rhinoskin model.
• This unit is strong. It completely encases the plastic body of the PDA, and with the built in padding, should protect it from damage due to minor drops and bangs. As far as I’m concerned, this is the primary function of a case, and the Rhinoskin does it well.
• As mentioned before, the Rhinoskin is very attractive to look at. The case fits the lines of the Axim perfectly, and adds some stylistic elements of its own. The case even reproduces the contours of the Axim’s battery on the back. (image 4)
Image 4 - Rhinoskin Hard Case for Dell Axim
• The slots are well placed. It was easy to gain access to all of the necessary controls with the case in place. The only cutout that could be improved is the one for the stylus. I found it difficult to pull out the stylus with the front panel in the open position.
• The quality of construction is high. The case has a substantial feel, and the fit and finish are superb. The Axim slides in and out without a hitch. The cover aligns perfectly, and closes securely with minimal pressure.
• This case adds a considerable amount of weight to the PDA package. The Axim is no lightweight to start with, and when mounted in the Rhinoskin case, starts to reach the mass of a small brick. With the extra weight on this Pocket PC, my pockets can’t stand the strain.
• The unit also adds a lot of bulk to the Axim. Even if you are willing to tolerate the weight, you can’t fit the combined unit into your shirt pocket. It’s not hard to slide the PDA in and out, and keep it naked in your pocket, but that defeats the purpose of a form-fitting case. You really want to keep the PDA protected as much as possible.
• Likewise, with the case on, you can’t use the Dell synchronization/charging cradle. It’s easy enough to remove the PDA from the case, but I prefer to keep the case on as much as possible.
• There is no belt clip built in or available as an accessory. I see this as a serious drawback, especially since the case does not fit easily into most pockets. You want to have the PDA close at hand, but carrying it loose or keeping it in a briefcase is not the answer.
• There are no pockets for extra memory cards. I think that Rhinoskin could have fit some slots on the inside of the front cover. The cover curves out over the screen, and I think they could have put some Storage there. I like to carry an extra SD card with MP3 files and photos, and it would be nice to have them right in the case.
• The clamshell cover hangs in a precarious position when opened. It swings open like a book cover, and hangs off the hinge to the right. I am afraid that one day I will bang against something and break the cover off the hinge (image 5). I think the designs where the cover swings up and under the PDA are a bit less prone to breakage.
Image 5 - Rhinoskin Hard Case for Dell Axim
As I said before, most of the cons to this product are a function of its basic design, and not unique to Rhinoskin. Within the overall class of hard aluminum cases, the Rhinoskin is a high quality, attractive option. Maybe the real answer is that we need to carry different cases at different times for different purposes. However, if you are looking for a solid cocoon to put your Axim into, and you don’t mind the lack of a belt clip and Storage pockets, you should give the Rhinoskin serious consideration.
Visit http://www.saunders-usa.com/rhinoskin/ to purchase any Rhinoskin case.
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