Vaja Treo 650 Case Review
April 1, 2005
I’m a serious fan of the Vaja “i-Volution” case series, so it’s no surprise that when I needed a case for the Treo 650, the Vaja “T65” i-Volution case was my first choice.
A Vaja case is a work of art. I don’t know how they do it, but they make a leather case that is soft, supple, almost sensuous to the touch, and still tough as nails. They have several major “series” of cases for most devices, including the more traditional flip-cover type cases, and the i-Volution.
The i-Volution is like no other case I’ve ever seen; it’s a stiff—hard even—shell that fits around the device, yet it still has a soft, almost padded fine italian leather surface. If you hold it in your hand, empty, you can squeeze the case and it will barely deform.
Of course, this requires a bit of a trade-off—unlike other cases that button, snap, or stretch over the device, a Vaja i-Volution case has to have an open end for the device to be slid into. Since you don’t want to risk it falling out, this tends the top of the case.
Fortunately, a vast number of little pocket devices seem to have a lot of the things that need to protrude, be switched or plugged into on the top. One of the many things I love about the i-Volution series case I have for my iPod (i-Volutions for iPod are “i-Vods”, natch..) is that you can plug any of the little top-mount iPod accessories in with no problems (which not many iPod cases can say).
The Treo 650 is no exception to benefiting from an open top—it lets the antenna stub out, and exposes the SD card, IR window and mute switch for easy access.
PDA-style Smartphones are a little problematic to build cases for. Flip covers are a pain in the butt for a phone, since they’ve always got to be opened to see who’s calling, etc., and when you’re talking, the silly cover is flapping around in the air or in your face.
The i-Volution series cases don’t have covers, so this isn’t a problem, but protecting the LCD screen is. On other devices, they use a strong, clear plexi sheild to protect the LCD. You can’t do that on a screen that needs touch and stylus access.
So, they solve that problem by ignoring it. The i-Volution case completely exposes the LCD screen. This is handy, but it also means you’d better have a good screen protector on your Treo if you stick it in your pocket.
Other exposed areas on the case are the keyboard area, the volume and hard button on the left side, the camera lense (the case “swoops down” in back just far enough to expose it), the sync/charge connectors on the bottom, and the LED. The front and back speakers are cut out, but protected with a very fine steel mesh.
In use, the case is very good, but just shy of excellent. The only real problem I’ve had is fat fingering the Q, A, and Function buttons on the thumboard. I’m right handed, and so holding the case in my right hand and thumbing the keyboard, the end of my thumb at full extension is just a bit too blunt to accurately hit those keys so close to the thick edge of the case. I don’t have trouble on the other side, where my thumb is at a more perpendicular angle to the phone, but the left edge keys are a little problematic if I’m trying to type in a hurry. Not a big deal, and your mileage may vary (along with your thumb length and tip diamater).
Outside of that, the phone fits very snugly into the case, I can get to any function I want easily, and the sync/charge cable fits well through the cutout on the bottom. I’ve even managed to drop the phone a time or two (hey, anything in the interests of an accurate review, right? :-), and it’s survived without a scratch or a problem.
All in all, I’d give it an 8 out of 10.
Now the bad news—Vaja cases aren’t cheap — expect to pay anywhere from $120 – $150 US, depending on whether you buy it direct, and (if you do), how much customization you want.
Oh—I didn’t mention customization? If you order direct, you can get an i-Volution case in virtually any color you want. Or even a combination of colors—the case is constructed from a top and bottom piece, and you can pick different colors for each. Other options include embossing your name, or even your artwork into the case.
More bad news, though—ordering a custom case takes 4 – 6 weeks (it’s handcrafted for you). Even off-the-rack colors can take a while.
There are a few people offering standard color selections (black, etc.) in the US, but all of them I checked indicated that they were out of stock. If you can find them in stock, you may be able to get it a little cheaper and a lot faster.
Knowing how much damage I’d tend to do to an unprotected device like this in 4 – 6 weeks, I rooted around on E-Bay, and managed to find someone who was parting with a just-purchased one for about $20 off new cost. Since it was in black, and I wanted a black one to match my iVod, this worked out great.