Having a PDA is nice because you can plan your life, keep a schedule and play a lot of cool games. Having a PDA is also a pain because they are expensive and super fragile. One wrong step and your $500 investment is down the tubes. This is something that you would never consider taking hiking or to the beach for fear of getting it wet or dropping and breaking it. If you like to go hiking and camping the OtterBox series of PDA covers may be the answer you are looking for.
- Universal fit for newer smaller form-factor PDAs Waterproof, crushproof, drop-proof ergonomic design
- Flexible, fully sealed interactive screen membrane
- Quick access to CF and SD slots through the top of the case
- Quick access to PDA connection through the bottom of the case
- Adjustable neoprene handstrap
- External stylus holder
- Flip-up hard screen cover
- Headphone/headset access
- Unconditional lifetime guarantee
Ever since I got my Axim I have always been careful to keep it as far away from water and potentially hazardous places as I could. There have even been a couple of times when one of my kids have gotten a hold of it and dropped it. If it had not been in its soft case and on carpet I am sure it would have been broken. Now with the OtterBox I can put the Axim inside and I don’t have to worry as much about them damaging it.
Because the OtterBox is not designed specifically for one PDA, it is possible to have one OtterBox fit several of your devices. As you can see from these pictures, I can fit both my Axim x50v and my Treo 650 in the OtterBox 1900. Since I most likely will not be using both devices at the same time it makes sense to only have one OtterBox for the two. This is a benefit for the consumer because you don’t have to buy two of them.
The OtterBox has support for add-ons called pods. Pods are used for extending the size of the case so that it can fit things like GPS receivers and bar code scanners. Below I have included pictures of the Bar Code Scanner pod and the Medium sized GPS pod. There are also several mounting kits for the case and a belt clip. You can use the mounting kits to mount it in your car, the handle bars of a bike or motorcycle, and other places.
The design is probably the biggest source of positive and negative comments. While it is designed to handle a heavy crushing weight it is also big and bulky. The colors are not the most attractive, but they make it easier to find and if you happen to drop it in a lake or stream you will be glad that it doesn’t blend into the ground.
The OtterBox 1900 is made of thick plastic with a soft rubber coating which makes it easier to grip, especially when wet. The clips are all made of hard plastic and the plugs for the top and bottom are made of soft rubber. The top of the OtterBox 1900 and the screen cover are made of a hard, but clear plastic. The screen cover is not waterproof, but under it is a clear plastic membrane which doubles as waterproofing and as a screen protector. This keeps sand, dirt and the stylus from scratching your screen.
Getting in and out of the OtterBox 1900 is not overly difficult, but it does take some effort. The clips are tight and they take a bit of effort to open. There are a total of four clips, two for the back and two for the top. There is a padded Velcro strap that you need to loosen before you can put in, or remove your PDA. The PDA must be aligned just right otherwise you may not have access to all of the buttons on the front. No matter how you position it you will not have access to the buttons on the side or back. For the Axim these are the wireless, record, screen lock and reset buttons. You must also make sure that the straps are not pressing on the buttons. This could cause the device to turn on and activate without your knowledge and drain the batteries. Speaking of batteries, you will only be able to fit the Axim in this case if you have the regular sized battery installed.
Once you have your PDA installed you probably don’t want to take it out all the time. To help you out the OtterBox 1900 has all the right openings so that you can charge the Axim, plug in head phones, and swap out memory cards, all without removing the PDA from the case. The top is removable so that you can get to the memory cards and headphone jack. There is a small plug in the top so that you can feed the headphones through it and reattach the top to keep your PDA safe; however, with the plug open the case is no longer waterproof. OtterBox provides a special plug that has a small slit in it so you can have headphones and still keep it waterproof. The bottom of the case has a much larger plug which allows for charging, and syncing your PDAs. However, you cannot dock your PDA in a cradle. For the Axim this means you will have to purchase the optional Travel Sync Cable for the Axim if you want to sync you Axim while it is in the case. There is even an external stylus holder. If you don’t have an extra stylus then you will want to make sure to remove the stylus from the PDA before you install it and put it in the external holder.
The design also makes it easy to replace damaged parts. You can replace the flexible screen protector membrane, and latches.
So how do you test a case that claims to be water proof and crush resistant? Well, you put it in water and you crush it. As you can see from the pictures below I put the case, with my Axim inside, in my sink and left it there for a while to make sure it had plenty of opportunity to get wet. Because the case floats I made sure I pushed it down so that it was completely submerged. When I took the case out of the water and dried it off I opened it up and the Axim was completely dry. Even though this case is waterproof OtterBox does not recommend that you take it lower then about 3 feet. Because the case floats, you don’t have to worry about it sinking deep in a lake or ocean if you are out on a boat.
So the next test is to crush it. Most people are probably worried about stepping on their device or leaving it on the top of there car and having it fall off and getting driven over. So to test those two I first tried stepping on it, I weigh about 150 lbs, the case didn’t even budge. Dropping the case with the Axim in it produced the same results. With the Axim securily inside the case it recieved no damage. The OtterBox 1900 is rated for about a 4 foot drop.
Warranty and Support
With a case like this you really need a good warranty. OtterBox offers an unconditional lifetime warranty on their cases. This is the kind of warranty that I would like to see on all products. More companies need to stand by their products like OtterBox does.
If you are in need of extreme protection for your PDA then this is for you. Most people probably won’t find themselves in this kind of a situation all the time, but if you go boating, swimming, camping, fishing, or hiking and you want to take your PDA then you can probably find a use for this case. People with small kids may even want to go to this extreme of protecting their PDAs. With the addition of a lifetime warranty and the ability to add on pods that extend the usefulness of the case, it is easily worth the price and possible inconvenience of the size.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|