The Otterbox 1920 Treo Case Review

Let’s say that the place where you need to use your Palm Treo 650 or 700 series is not in an office in the middle of the city; perhaps it is at a bivouac in the middle of a desert, in an arctic outpost, or maybe on board a crabbing vessel in the middle of the Bering sea. These are not the places where a stylish wrap will protect your PDA adequately, these are the type places that call for an OtterBox 1920 Palm Treo Case.

This thing is a beast!

Sure, you could buy a ruggedized PDA instead, but would it do everything your Treo can? Not a chance. So putting the Treo inside a ruggedized case is the next best option. However, the obvious trade-off for a near indestructible Treo is going to be a substantial increase in bulk and weight.

On its own, the naked Treo measures 4.4? tall x 2.3? wide x 0.9? thick, and it weighs 6.2 ounces.?The OtterBox measures approximately 5.25″ tall x 3.1″ wide x 1.75″ thick, and it weighs 5.2 ounces…empty.

The first concern someone might have about placing their Treo inside any ruggedized case would be that they would lose the thumboard’s functionality. The front of the 1920 Treo Case is designed with a full thumboard with properly placed corresponding buttons. Since there are a few differences between the button labels on the Palm versus Pocket PC versions of the Treos, several of the buttons directly under the screen are left unlabeled; those that are similar across the breed are clearly marked. A hinged clear plastic cover lifts from the front of the case to reveal a clear flexible film which will allow the user to access the touch screen while keeping the Treo protected. This clear cover can be a bit of a bear to open, but since it adds so much protection to the screen and since the Treo is so easy to use one-handed without ever touching the screen, I am not really complaining.

The rear of the case has a special clear plastic camera port to allow taking photos without having to remove the Treo. Directly under the camera port is a membrane which allows the speakerphone to be used without allowing water to splash onto the Treo. The latch used to lock the case is heavy plastic, and it snaps into a groove in the clear plastic portion of the case. ?

The three buttons on the side of the Treo are accessible when it is in the case…

…and there is a rubber stylus holder molded into the right side, since the stylus port will no longer be easily accessible.

The entire case is composed of very solid black polycarbonate ABS plastic, with dark gray textured rubber insets which provide a non-slip surface. The keypad, touch screen, volume and program buttons are all covered by sealed rubber which will keep out dirt and water. There is a screw hole in the middle of the latch system which would be used to attach the optional?belt clip ($19.95). When the belt clip is attached, the case latch is effectively locked down, and will “withstand pulling forces up to a 130 pounds in any direction,” according to the OtterBox site.

The top of the case is composed of hard clear plastic which will allow the Infrared port to be used without any problem. While you’ll be able to see the mute switch and the SD slot, they are not easily accessible. But you can get to them! The user has the option of flipping the compound latch to remove the Treo – or flipping the latch and popping the clear cap off; it is removable. If all of this sounds like a bit too much work, that’s all right – as the phone’s ringer and alarm settings can be changed via software when needed. Changing SD cards will require one or the other of the two options, however.

Before you even ask – yes…I tested the Spectec low profile SDIO Wifi card, and it was still just a tad too tall to properly fit in the case. So no SDIO cards – even the low profile ones; this case works with memory cards only.

So let’s pop the case and take a look inside…

When the latch is released, the two halves of the case will disengage. A light gray rubber gasket frames the edges of the back half, while a black plastic ridge frames the front half. When these two halves are locked together, the resulting seal will keep out water, dust and debris. The Treo will basically be hermetically sealed from all elements, and although the case will basically be waterproof, it is not meant for underwater use.?So there can’t be any calls safely made while snorkeling…sorry! 😉

Inserting the Treo is done by sliding the top end of the device into the clear portion of the case’s front half, at which point the back half is then latched on.

The beauty of this particular OtterBox is of course, the fully functional thumboard. All of the buttons are perfectly integrated, and the only one that I had any issue whatsoever with was the left soft button. I finally got to a point where I found the button’s “sweet spot”, but it took me a bit. Otherwise, the buttons are dead on,?and even complex text messages were easy to peck out accurately.

There’s one last thing that a potential user might need to consider – and that is syncing and charging the Treo while it is in the case. Well, a 2″ long heavy rubber plug keeps unwanted mess from entering the bottom of the case, yet it allows easy access when the port or headphone jack is needed.?I would hope that a Bluetooth headset would be in use instead of compromising the safety of the PDA in bad conditions with a cabled headset though, as?using one would?rather negate the purpose of this case. 😉

the microphone on the Treo’s bottom is accessible through a thin water-resistant film

The OtterBox 1920 Palm Treo Case is the undeniable mack-daddy of protective solutions: It will dampen the shock of an unexpected fall; it will protect the Treo from being crushed; and it will keep water, dust and dirt from getting on the device. If you work in an extreme environment and you use a Treo, then there is no way that you will want to accept anything less than the protection this case will provide.?

The OtterBox 1920 Palm Treo Case is available directly from the manufacturer as well as from other retailers.
You can watch a video about the OtterBox 1920 Palm Treo Case here.
MSRP: $129.95
What I Like: Extremely well made; easy to grip; protects the Treo from the weather and other elements; protects the Treo from being crushed; allows access to all ports; allows use of the thumboard
What Needs Improvement: It is a bit tricky to flip the plastic lid which covers the IR, mute switch and SD slot.

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.