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Reviews

Innopocket Magnesium Rugged Case for HP iPAQ hx4700

By Legacy April 20, 2005, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

    So you just spent more than $600 on your new HP hx4700 (or hx4705). You’re already feeling a little guilty at spending so much on a Pocket PC when, as you’re getting out of the car, it slips out of your coat pocket and smashes on the ground. Think that nifty built-in plastic cover is going to help save it? It’ll keep the screen from getting scratched, but what about the rest of the handheld? Well, if you’re like me, you can be assured that it will land on the plastic corner and crack the case, or scrape across the ground and mess up the pretty coating. Think it won’t happen? Been there! Done that! And guess what, even putting it into the leather casing from my old HP 5555 didn’t help – it still got damaged.

    The answer? A hard case. It’s the best way I’ve found to protect me from myself! A little while back, I bought a Rhinoskin which has served me well, but now InnoPocket has a new line of cases starting with a magnesium case designed to match the casing of the hx4700. So does it work? Is it cool? Did I become a convert? Read on to find out what happens when I trade my Rhinoskin for the InnoPocket.

WHAT’S HOT

    It’s made of magnesium. According to InnoPocket that makes it 20x stronger than the typically used ABS plastic and 37% lighter than aluminum. And it matches the 4700 – what more can you ask for? How about an included belt clip? Not enough? How about two SD card slots for holding your spare cards? It’s in there!

SETUP

    Inserting the hx4700 into the case is easy, but you need to remove the plastic screen shield that came with the hx4700/4705 first (it won’t fit in the case). The inside of the case is padded nicely and provides a snug fit. The PDA definitely won’t be slipping out of the case accidentally!

PRODUCT FEATURES

    This is a top flip case. As such it has a big hinge on the top of the case. The big perk of this arrangement, of course, is that it keeps the hinge and door pretty much out of the way of your hand when you’re working on your PDA. Additionally, there are two SD card slots for your spare cards. The thing that will seem odd, is that the cards need to be flipped backward (label side away from you) when you insert them into the case. It’s set up that way because there is a groove in SD/MMC cards that is on the front side. The case uses that groove to hold the card in the slot. This wouldn’t work well if the card was flipped with the label toward you. My Rhinoskin case has the same arrangement for SD cards. So remember – although it looks like a manufacturing mistake, it really is supposed to be that way!

    The case also includes a belt clip. You simply screw the post onto the back of the case and then use a standard clip. I’ve used these clips for years with my cell phones, and although they occasionally break, they are extremely easy to replace. I am pleased that InnoPocket chose a standard clip rather than a proprietary one that is hard to replace should something go wrong!

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BUGS AND WISHES

   
My single biggest complaint is actually one of the features – the flip top cover. The hinge is, of course, on the top. This allows for easy use of the PDA and keeps the cover out of your way, but it has an unfortunate side effect – it blocks access to the SD and CF card slots when it’s closed. This may not be an issue if you never swap out cards, but if you use a CF or SD GPS receiver, a phone card, or other I/O device then you may find this arrangement unacceptable. I had to stop using my Enfora phone (a CF card) while reviewing this case, because I couldn’t close the case if the phone was installed!

    I also noticed that sometimes, when closing the cover on the case, I’d bump the SD card or the power button and my 4705 would be accidentally powered up (popping the SD card will also cause the power to come on). The hinge ends right next to the power button. If the hinge was a little further away, I might not be as inclined to accidentally bump the power button.

    Although the case has slots to hold extra SD cards, it does not have any way to hold extra CF cards. CF cards may be more difficult to store due to their increased thickness (versus SD cards). Still, it would have been nice to be able to hold an extra CF card as well!

    You should also be aware that, like many cases, you cannot put the PDA into it’s sync cradle while it is in the case. I get around this by using a sync cable, rather than the cradle, especially when I’m on the road. It’s simply easier for me and works in a wider variety of situations/applications.

    I often store my PDA case in my backpack and I was disappointed in how easily the case scratched. It also started to wear on the sharper edges. The paint is not very well applied.

    I’ve read a lot of postings on a number of sites about this problem and I’d heard that Innopocket was either replacing damaged cases or offering some form of remediation, but my request to Innopocket for more information about this received no response.

    Lastly, unlike the Rhinoskin case, this case actually makes the device feel significantly bulkier, which isn’t good since many folk think the hx4700/4705 is already too bulky. I believe this is partially due to the fact that the metal is actually pretty thick. It’s certainly thicker than the aluminum shell of my Rhinoskin case. That means, that although the magnesium material may be lighter than aluminum, it actually doesn’t feel any lighter. I also attribute the overall bulky feel to the large top hinge. I’m not sure if it needs to be that large for durability or due to the properties of the metal, but it is very large. These last items are somewhat subjective, but choosing a case is often a personal and subjective thing.

PURCHASING

   
The
InnoPocket Magnum case for hp iPAQ Pocket PC hx4700 (and 4705) is available
at the pocketnow
web store for $39.95.

PROS


  • Made of lightweight magnesium


  • Matches your hx4700/hx4705 and generally looks very cool


  • Flip cover doesn’t get in your way when using the PDA (without i/o devices)

CONS


  • Case paint scratches and wears easily

  • Latch wears easily and may eventually stop holding the case shut

  • Doesn’t allow syncing in cradle

  • Case is a little thicker than aluminum cases I’ve seen and seems "bulky"
  • Hinge is a little oversized and blocks access to the card slots when closed

  • No storage for CF cards

Value
Ease
of Use
Features

Overall

What
do these ratings mean?

OVERALL IMPRESSION

    On the whole, I liked the case. I think some improvements in the durability of the paint could be made and I wish the metal itself was a little thinner. I was also a little disappointed that InnoPocket didn’t respond to my request for information about the scratching problem. Did it make me switch? No. But I still wanted to! The look of the case definitely attracted some attention and, scratching aside, the case is pretty durable. I also liked the feel of the case as you held it – the texture makes it feel like it won’t easily slip out of your hands. But, alas, I have a CF card cell phone, and I use GPS devices so I can’t have those slots blocked much of the time. Now if there were a side-opening version of the case….

 

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