BlackBerry Playbook Case Review: Case-Mate Barely There

Gear Diary is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Click here to learn More.

BlackBerry Playbook Case Review: Case-Mate Barely There Listen to this article

IMG 3354

I’m a huge fan of minimalist cases and that tends to hold true for pretty much every device I use. I want something as thin as possible on my iPhone 4. I want something that doesn’t add too much bulk to my iPad 2. And I want to get a case for the BlackBerry PlayBook RIM gave out at the launch event that adds some protection but doesn’t remove the key advantage this “completely and totally unfinished but still has potential” device has over the iPad and other 10″ tablets: its small size and light weight.

That’s where Case-Mate’s Barely There for BlackBerry Playbook comes in. Here’s a brief look.

IMG 3373

From Case-Mate:

Think less case and more talk. The Barely There BlackBerry PlayBook case shows off your PlayBook with its slim and minimal case design. One of our most popular cases, the Barely There combines style with function for the ultimate slim BlackBerry PlayBook case.

Offering a layer of protection and polish, the Barely There case reveals more of your BlackBerry PlayBook. Colorful shades add a modern look, without the bulk. Made from specially engineered materials, including a hard-to-break plastic shell, the form-fitting case slims in all the right places.

Extremely slim profile showcases more of your BlackBerry PlayBook

Form fit feature covers back and corners

Impact resistant, flexible plastic shell

Access to all ports and functions

IMG 3374

If you read Gear Diary on a regular basis you are no doubt familiar with Case-Mate’s Barely There series of cases. We’ve used and reviewed them on a wide range of devices and even have a review of the Barely There for iPad 2 on  the way. The Barely There cases tend to be as thin and lightweight as possible while still adding some degree of protection, particularly from scratches, to the device they cover. The Barely There for BlackBerry PlayBook is no different. As you can see, it adds little or no bulk to the PlayBook. In fact, if you aren’t looking for it you probably won’t even realized the PlayBook is in a case. Yes, the case lives up to its name.

IMG 3372

As one might expect with a case from Case-Mate the cutouts are precise and only expose as much of the device as is needed to allow ease-of-use.

IMG 3377

The headphone jack is left open just enough to ensure that headphones with thick plugs will still fit.

IMG 3378

And the top controls on the PlayBook are as accessible as ever. (The stress there is “as ever” since the on/off sleep/awake button is one of the smallest and ridiculous things I have seen on a recent device. Seriously, it is all but useless!)

ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4

IMG 3379

The other microphone is also left exposed “just enough”.

IMG 3373

Surprisingly the company made the case in such a way that while it covers the top, bottom and corners it leaves the sides exposed. I don’t see this as much of an issue since the corners ARE protected but it does strike me as a bit peculiar.

If you look closely you will notice that the case comes above the screen ever so slightly. It isn’t enough to get in the way of using the touchscreen but it is enough to give the device some “lay on the table” protection. That is probably the biggest reason to use this case.

IMG 3382

Here’s the thing with the PlayBook: it has a great build quality to begin with and the back is made from a lovely soft-touch material that doesn’t show fingerprints. It seems to be a pretty tough little device. More than any device I have used in the last year or two I think the PlayBook is one you COULD use unprotected. In other words you don’t really NEED a case on it. BlackBerry knew that and included a nice pouch so you can use the device naked but throw it into your bag without concern. Still, I personally like the added level of protection and this is a great way to get it without changing the device all that much. The result is that I will be using the Barely-There with the PlayBook, at least until a folio case I love comes along.

Here’s a quick promotional video of the case which can be ordered directly from Case-Mate.


What I Like: Adds little to no weight and bulk but does as a layer of protection; provides just enough “lay on the table” screen protection; made from a nice soft-touch material that is quite pleasant to hold.

What Needs Improvement: While it does protect the corners it leaves the bulk of the sides exposed

As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks for your support!

About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.