When you drop $400 on a new PDA, it s usually a good idea to get a case of some sort to protect it. Once you ve determined leather is the way to go, if your budget allows (and that s a big if), you simply cannot go wrong on the latest effort from Vaja.
If you don t know Vaja yet, it s likely because your case budget for a case is less than 25% of what you paid for the PDA. In this case, my test model is a customized unit with the amenities I selected, which came in at a touch under $100. Had I added superfluous touches, and I almost did, the case would have easily topped triple digits.
Vaja (http://www.vajacases.com/) offers a case for almost every model and they re quick to expand the line when new PDAs are released. For the HP iPAQ h2200 series, Vaja offers a few flavors of both their standard flip top case and the flip top with billfold built-in. For this review, I decided to go top of the line, ordering a high-end custom unit without belt clip (at the time of my order, the billfold units were not yet available.) Ordering a custom unit affords the buyer numerous choices in leather options and interior configuration. Custom orders take a few extra days to produce, but their lower-end cases are available immediately with or without the ultra clip option (belt clip).
Once I decided on model, the next choice is color. I went with Vitelino Chocolate. The Vitelino leather does vary in color, so don t be surprised when your unit doesn t look exactly as it does on the web. Mine came out to be much more reddish as you can see from the pictures. The end result was still very nice though, so a mild color variance didn t bother me in the least.
Next comes the ability to determine which slots, if any, you want on the inside of the case. For $6 I added two SD slots and two credit card slots. The next choice gives you either the standard cover or one with extra padding for $4. I opted for standard, as I didn t want to add any more bulk to the h2215. I think this was a wise move, as I found the leather to be more than adequate to protect the cover of the device. Perhaps the extra padding would offer greater protection from drops, or objects dropped onto your PDA, but I think most will be happy with the slimmer option.
For a reasonable $4, you might decide to add Vaja s ultra clip. I opted not to this time, as a thin case was what I wanted. I have seen their clip in action on other models though, and find it to be on the higher end of the scale in regards to quality and durability.
The next choice is critical and can be a terrible accident if not thought out all the way. It determines how you want the cutout on the top of the case to work out. The zero cost option is to not have any cutouts, leaving the top of the h2215 completely enclosed. For $2 you can add headphone access, $4 gets you CF card access and $6 does both. The reason this is so important is these cutouts can dramatically increase the usability of your PDA while in the case. I often listened to MP3 s with the case closed, or left the CF WiFi card docked when I closed the case, so having both cutouts is a huge advantage.
Personalization comes next. For $10 Vaja will emboss your name on the inside of the case and for $30, they will add a company logo. Either option will add seven days to delivery. I skipped this choice as I hardly hold on to a PDA long enough for it to be worthwhile. One last case option gives you the choice of standard soft leather inside lining or a lining matching your exterior choice. For $10 I m not sure it s necessary for the inside of the case to look as good as the outside and I fine their standard treatment to be more than adequate. One last thing, for those who need to be case coordinated, Vaja offers a matching mobile phone case for $25.
After going through the process, it feels as if I ve been shopping for a car, not a PDA case. The process is simple and direct, with help all along the way. My case arrived within a few days, even faster than promised on the site.
I used the h2215 with its Vaja cover for a number of weeks before passing it on to Andrew. I can say without a doubt that it s the best case I ve ever owned. The craftsmanship is impressive, as the h2215 fits snugly and securely. All the slots worked appropriately, no SD cards getting lost in slots too deep for them. Everything was perfect. Sure, you can t leave the PDA in case to sync in the charger, but this problem is becoming so universal it s no longer an issue.
Fits like a glove
Shipped faster than promised
Minor grammar problems with the text on the inside of the case
The only deciding factor here is price. If you ve spent a bunch of money on a new PDA, and plan on having it for a year or longer, this is a fantastic option you can t go any more top-shelf.