Size matters! Anyone who has looked at PDAs recently knows that a major feature and attraction of the iPAQ 1910, and the new 1900 series follow-on devices is their size. Cladding one of these little gems in a case seems almost like sacrilege but, being a tool for the mobile, a PDA needs some protection from the abuses of daily life while out and about. There are many ways to achieve this, some sacrificing form over function, but if you want a rock solid, secure case then you need look no further than RhinoSkin s sleek aluminum offering.
The initial feel of this case is silky smooth and light. It s well made without any noticeable play in the hinge mechanism and a solid feel when closed. As for closing, it does so securely with a satisfying snap. There are cutouts for easy access to the synchronization connector and the IR port/Record button although the latter requires care to ensure a positive press and hold, as the opening, while nicely sized for appearance, is small for access. The top is open for access to the stylus, SD card/slot and the headphone jack.
The PDA is held tightly and secured in place by two spring mounted plastic buttons, which engage the case screw dimples on the top rear of the unit and by fold over edges on the front. Alignment is perfect. It s a beautifully snug and secure fit with no danger of your precious iPAQ dropping out of its own accord as, even with considerable effort, it will not shake loose.
This same secure fit can be challenging when it s necessary to remove the PDA. A solid push from the bottom through the sync slot seems to work best. Why remove it at all? Well, if like me you indulged in HP s optional cradle, it has to come out to fit in the cradle. One thing to note is that when the case is closed the indicator button is obscured. You will not notice that flashing green event reminder! Also, as the 1910 s speaker is beneath the 5-way navigation button, the discreet event chime is muted with the cover closed unless you have the volume cranked up high.
As you can see in the picture there is Storage for an SD card, with a nicely made slot to hold it securely. At first glance it looks unlikely, but in use the card slides in and out smoothly with no fumbling and ridges that interlock with the card edges provide a secure positive lock.
One of the attributes of the iPAQ 1910 is its capability to swap batteries so you ll maybe need somewhere to keep that spare battery too and if you also consider your PDA case a replacement for wallet or other holder of credit cards, or even cash, then you ll need to look elsewhere, as a total mobile Storage solution this is not. But then it has no aspirations to be all those things. Rather it s a solid and secure protection for your PDA and, as an added benefit, one SD card.
First, the added weight, little though it is, puts a pull on your shirt pocket that the iPAQ alone doesn t. Not intolerable, but noticeable. Second, how to hold the thing when it s open! If you have become used to gripping your PDA on both sides to use it then it s time to learn a new technique, as when the case is open the right edge is inaccessible. A little experimentation will find the grip that is most secure while remaining functional. It s here that the slightly slippery nature of the case has the most impact. Best to pop the stylus out too before opening, as the open cover makes it more difficult to get at and remove. Conversely, when closed, the case provides a reasonably solid, secure grip and you d probably need to have seriously buttery fingers to easily let it slip.
After some weeks of use including several days on the road, the case still looks brand new. It has been dropped, once, thankfully empty and is no worse for the experience. The inside lining, as might be expected, is a little less immaculate but all in all it s still in excellent shape and looks good. The fit remains snug and perfectly aligned and functionally it has done a fine job of protecting the 1910. It still snaps solidly shut and the hinge is still tight. The only really minor gripe remains the invisibility of the indicator light. Perhaps the structure would have been weakened by a cutout on the front. Not significant enough to dissuade me from using this case daily, especially given its solid protective capabilities.
Excellent finish and build quality
Lightweight, but robust
Clean sculpted lines
Protects from accidental button pressing
Lightweight, but enough to make the iPAQ 1910 feel heavy in your pocket
Tight fit if you use a cradle and need to remove the PDA often
Industrial styling may not appeal to all
100% anodized aluminum
Easy access to stylus
IR port and Record button accessible when closed
Padded interior protects screen and function buttons
Cutout for USB synchronization cable connection
Storage for one Secure Digital (SD) card
RhinoSkin includes a StuffBak label with the case. This is a virtually indestructible label that you stick on your PDA. You then register your unique label number, free of charge at www.stuffbak.com, or by telephone. Should you be unfortunate enough to misplace your PDA and a Good Samaritan finds it they can return it for a reward of merchandise and you pay a fee of $14.94 plus any shipping required and your precious PDA comes home.
Owners may also offer a cash reward and, most importantly, you only pay if you use the service. Note that, as the name implies, you can stick a StuffBak label on anything you want to, not just a PDA, but cell phones, wallet, laptop and so on can all stand a better chance of being returned should you lose them. An added bonus that s well worth considering if you are prone to misplacing things and it would be hard to beat the price of free unless you use it and retrieve your treasured PDA. In which event it would undoubtedly be well worth the modest fee.
Available for purchase online at www.saunders-usa.com/rhinoskin, for $34.95, or see where to buy at the same address.