About three weeks ago I noticed that online case and accessory distributor Seidio was introducing a new Innocase 360 for the BlackBerry 8900. What’s unique about this case is that it includes a full keyboard cover which looks nearly identical to the BlackBerry keys. I thought the cover would be useful against wet weather and keeping stray debris away. After having spent a couple weeks using the case I can say that it indeed excels in protection while falling short in a couple other areas.
Let’s get to the highlights of the case.
Looks great. Fits great. Adds hardly any bulk to the device. The slightly rubberized case texture will improve your grip on the 8900.
After three weeks of use I’ve yet to get tired of the look. The case comes in black, blue, pink or red and makes your 8900 “fit” perfectly in your hands.
The keypad cover is a rather unique (and brave) idea on Seidio’s part. RIM BlackBerry devices are known (and even purchased solely for) their awesome keypads. Covering the keys with a slim rubber covering risks tarnishing the user experience. Thankfully Seidio mostly pulls off this task and you barely notice the key cover when typing.
In some instances I prefer using the key cover because I find that it somewhat dulls what I feel are pointy keys on the BlackBerry 8900.
What I didn’t like is that my speed typing through the key cover suffered. While I could move relatively quickly without the Innocase 360, once I added the extra rubber over the keys some of the click and tactile feedback went away.
I found myself making slightly more mistakes when typing. I don’t feel it’s bad enough to have stopped me from purchasing the case – however it’s definitely a factor in my daily use even after three weeks of practice.
While the keypad covering is great protection – there’s also a fatal flaw inherent in that covering.
Can you see the white backing on the key cover?
Unfortunately the backing tends to block out 50% or more of the backlighting from the keys. A real problem when you try to use your BlackBerry 8900 with the Innocase 360 in the dark for more than a few minutes.
Here’s a comparison shot. The case-less BlackBerry 8900 is on the left. On the right is the same BlackBerry in the Innocase 360. See how the keys are noticeably dimmer on the right?
Unfortunately the Innocase 360 key cover blocks out a large portion of the backlighting. This is not a huge problem unless you use your BlackBerry the majority of the time in low light situations.
Another item worth noting is that you’ll need a special Seidio Desktop Charging Cradle ($34.95) if you plan to use a charging base. The back of the case has two cutouts that allow only the Seidio cradle to make contact. You can continue to use your standard BlackBerry charger cable connected to the side charing port.
Seidio’s done a nice job with the fit of the case. The case is assembled by snapping the two sides together over your BlackBerry 8900. Once assembled I had no issues using any of the side buttons however since the case makes the buttons a bit more recessed in some instances you may have to use the very tip of your finger to fully depress the volume key.
I also purchased the Seidio Innocase 360 holster ($29.95) which very securely holds your BlackBerry 8900 with case.
I have one complaint about the holster. If you wear loose clothing such as a jacket or shirt that is not tucked in – the clip on the holster tends to catch not only the top of your BlackBerry.
But the clip will also (9 times out of 10 in my testing) capture and clip onto any loose clothing. I was constantly clipping in my jacket or shirt.
The problem with clipping in loose articles of clothing is that if you suddenly tug on the clothing it can dislodge the BlackBerry from the clip.
I had no problems with any of the keys being obscured when the keypad was covered. The trackball was completely functional. The only thing that I noticed is that the key overlay slightly lifts around the trackball area but that did not hamper my use in any way.
Buy this case if you’re looking for protection of your keypad. There’s also a screen cover that is embedded in the case and I had no issues with the cover and barely noticed that it was there.
Skip this case and get the regular Innocase Surface for BlackBerry 8900 ($34.95) (without keypad cover) if you don’t need the keypad protection. I find that I use my BlackBerry enough at night that the dimmed keypad started to become an annoyance.
I recommend the Seidio brand of cases. I’ve been using these for some time on other BlackBerry devices and despite some of the shortcomings of the holster/clip catching my clothing find that they’re some of the coolest and most functional cases available.
What I Like:
– Rubberized texture improves grip
– Excellent fit
– Easy to remove case for cleaning or “battery pull”
– Companion clip grips strongly (even if it takes half my clothing with it)
– Minimal obstruction of any keys
– Keypad skin protects from water or dirt
– Full screen cover
– Great looking full body protection in a very attractive case design
What Could Be Improved:
– Keypad backing needs to allow more light through