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Vaja Treo 650 Case Review

April 1, 2005

imageI’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.

Link to Vaja Cases

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.

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Comments

11 Responses to “Vaja Treo 650 Case Review”

  1. Josh García on June 30th, 2005 8:01 am

    “Now the bad news—Vaja cases aren’t cheap, and since they’re made in Argentina, and sold (if you buy them direct) in Euros, they’re getting more expensive all the time for US buyers.” — No, they´re not sold in euros, cases are sold in dollars.
    BTW, those “Vaja Treo 650 cases” offered through eBay are not Vaja, they´re just a cheaper copy made by a company called itzkitz or something like that

  2. Chuck Lawson on June 30th, 2005 9:43 am

    Hi Josh;

    You’re correct — I just ordered a new iPod case last night (I’m upgrading to a color model), and it was priced in dollars. I could swear that it used to be in Euros awhile back, but I might be confusing them with someone else (Piel Frama, perhaps?).

    Before I ordered it, I checked eBay, and you’re right — there are a bunch of knock-off cases running on eBay now.

    If you decide to buy from eBay, be very careful of what you are getting — I don’t know how well made the knock-offs are, but I do know how well made the Vaja cases are, and you wouldn’t want to get a nasty surprise.

  3. JB on July 1st, 2005 2:11 pm

    My black and grey Vaja case is on order, and I am excited. Good to see a review, validates what I thought might be good about plunking down the money.

  4. Billzzz on July 23rd, 2005 3:15 pm

    Vaja cases are nice, but for a winning bid of $20.00 and change, I received a black, hard leather Vaja knockoff, which is very well-constructed. Whatever the cost, these types of cases, to include the elusive Vaja, all suffer from the same malady: The inability to effectively type on the keyboard due to the depth of the case and the proximity of the edge of the case to the keys, which require near acrobatics in depressing them. They are, however, very protective of the Treo, and with a good screen protector, also picked up on eBay for $12.00, (!) are an effective combination for protecting this little treasure.

  5. Hazen Woods on August 16th, 2005 5:00 pm

    I’m told there is no cutout for the microphone on the bottom right of the 650. I’m also told this will not interfere with use of the phone in the case. Can you speak to that, please.

    (I just discovered that from a picture. My two tone grey case is being made as I type.)

  6. Chuck Lawson on August 16th, 2005 6:21 pm

    Actually, I’d agree with both — there’s no cutout there, but it doesn’t seem to affect audio volume or quality as far as I can tell…

    In reality, there’s only a relatively thin strip of case right there, maybe 1/4″ wide; the cutout for the keyboard is above it, and for the sync/charge cable is below it. It would seem between the two of them that plenty of audio makes it into the mike, even though the hole itself is obscured…

    Good luck with your new case!

  7. Jan Hose on September 10th, 2005 5:36 am

    I ordered a Vaja PDA case as a gift for my wife a few months ago and had a really bad experience.

    I selected a combination of colours and placed the order. A couple of days later I received confirmation of the order but the colours were wrong (purple instead of brown). I phoned them, sent emails, did everything I could but they refused to acknowledge the problem with their system or change my order. This was despite my notifying them within 24 hours of receiving confirmation.

    I ended up paying a fortune for a case that I did not like, and probably in the process helped them get rid of old stock which due to the unattractiveness of the colour combination was not selling. After the incident, I am convinced that they DO NOT make to order and do not hesitate to con customers despite charging a fortune for their products.

    It does not matter what they claim to be making when they can’t deliver what you want and have attrocious customer care.

  8. Jim on December 3rd, 2005 9:03 pm

    Just a question… Anyone have the experience of the phone slipping out of the case and falling to the ground? Is it secure enough?
    Thanks!!

  9. Chuck Lawson on December 3rd, 2005 9:07 pm

    Jim, not at all… Since I posted this, I’ve pretty much beaten this case to death (outside of a few scratches, though, the only sign is the leather starting to pull away from the speaker hole in front a bit), and it still holds the phone reasonably securely.

    Trying it just now (a few inches off the desk), it’s possible to hold it upside down and gradually shake the phone out of the case, but even that happens slowly, taking 7 – 8 shakes to get it to come out an inch, and it’s still hanging on.

  10. Lionell Harper on January 4th, 2006 6:48 pm

    Hello
    I purchased your cover for my 650 Trio and the clip does not hold the phone in it’s position. I need to know where can I purchase a new clip
    5XX-8XX-7XXX cell.

    (edited to remove number)

  11. Chuck Lawson on January 4th, 2006 9:54 pm

    Hi Mr. Harper;

    Umm… You didn’t purchase my cover — I’m just a guy who wrote an article about the one I bought.

    If you’re having problems with a Vaja cover, you’ll probably want to contact Vaja at http://www.vajacases.com.

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