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Otterbox 1900 PDA protection case review Date 24th July 2005

Review by Mike Barrett

 

Sometime ago I reviewed the Otterbox Heavy Armor and also the Otterbox 3600. Now thanks to Memory-Map who have provided me with a review sample of the new Otterbox 1900 I have finally found the (almost) perfect case. With the Otterbox Armor I performed the review in the cold conditions of a long weekend in the winter conditions of the UK Lake district this time I needed to check out how these cases perform in other conditions...

 

Off to the deserts of Western USA to see how the case performs there.

 

Quick Navigation

Overview

Compatibility

Review

Conclusion

Resources

Overview

The original Otterbox Armor was a good protective case for your PDA but was subject to a number of limitations. Otterbox later released the 3600 which overcame some of these limitations, but despite its customisation options, it was too large to be practical in a lot of usage models.

 

The lessons seem to have been learnt and the feedback and experiences of these earlier cases have resulted in the Otterbox 1900, a smaller, customisable PDA protective casing, priced at £79.95. This allows easy access to just about all of the functional areas of the PDA whilst still keeping the elements at bay and providing complete protection for your PDA.

 

The thoughtful designers at Otter also thought about operating the PDA whilst cocooned safely in the case and provided a place to store the stylus without having to open the case.

Otterbox review

Compatibility

The Otterbox 1900 is advertised as being suitable for smaller PDAs. I tested the case with a range of PDAs from the diminutive HP1710 and 2210 to the 5450 and the 4700. Nobody can call the 4700 a small PDA!

 

The review

The Otterbox 1900 is a hard case for your PDA. It features a number of fully sealed and waterproof access points allowing you to fully control your PDA whilst at the same time protecting it from water, dust etc.

 

There is a solid plastic cover providing visibility of and access to the touch screen. This hinged cover allows you to operate the touch screen which is further protected by a clear flexible membrane.

 

The various sections of the case are closed by using pressure clamps which tighten the casing components against rubber gaskets forming a water tight seal. These seals are replaceable should the need arise. These pressure clamps can also be screwed in place to ensure total case integrity.

 

One of the problems of both the original Otterbox Armor and the Otterbox 3600 was the method of securing the PDA in the case. Well Otter have solved that problem with a very elegant solution. The PDA is held tightly against the clear membrane using an elasticated velcro strap. This means that any sized PDA can be used easily without having to mess about with different foam packing, or having an expandable foam pushing on the screen membrane when the case is in storage.

 

One thing to be careful of though is not to pull the strap out to try and put the PDA in. If the strap comes out then you will need to unscrew the case to put it back. (Guess who did that then?)

 

Once the PDA has been strapped in the back simply slides onto the main case and the clips lock and seal it inside. Your PDA is now fully protected from the elements.

 

The top of the case is also removable. I found this useful on a couple of occasions, particularly with the iPAQ 4700 to remove the stylus when I had forgotten to take it out before putting the PDA in the Otterbox. This works on the same principle with pressure clamps and rubber seals.

 

In the top of the case there is also a rubber bung. This is extremely usefully for some PDAs as they can be turned on and off just by removing the bung and poking the power button with the stylus. PDAs such as the iPAQ 2210 can be switched on an off from the front so don't need this feature.

 

There are a number of "Pod Kits" which replace the top part of the Otterbox 1900 this allows the use of CF or SD devices of varying sizes.

 

Switching to the opposite end of the case there is a large rubber bung. This gives access to the bottom of the PDA without removing it from the case. Very useful for the iPAQ 4700 as that is where the soft reset button is located. There is a special serial pod kit for this end which can be used with iPAQ devices to provide external power and a serial data connector.

 

On the back of the case are the mounting points for the various straps and mounts available for the case. The standard strap is an elasticated hand strap. This can ge used in two ways: The most comfortable is with the strap over the back of the hand with the case held in the palm. This is fine for most walking but is not too convenient when you start scrambling or require both hands for stability. In this case ( ) the case can be slipped over the wrist and can either face inwards or outwards suiting your personal preferences. This is not as comfortable but works well when needed.

 

Other mounting options include neck straps, and a special bike mount made by RAM.

 

Otterbox review

 

Otterbox review

Otterbox review

 

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The Otterbox 1900 in use

I used the Otterbox extensively whilst on a tour of the Western USA. We went to a number of the National Parks. This involved exposing the Otterbox to a number of different environments ranging from parched deserts in 110 degree heat to the raging rapids of the Colorado River.

 

We spent 10 days touring the US West. During this time the Otterbox was used extensively with both an iPAQ 2210 and an iPAQ 4700. I used the case horseback riding, quad biking, white water rafting, hiking and scrambling.

 

Overall the case performed very well. There were three small issues that I found:

 

1. I lost 2 styluses. Eventually I learnt to keep the stylus in my pocket. It was fine when stowed on the case walking or riding on the flat, but when scrambling and the case was bashed against rocks the stylus came adrift.

 

2. When the case was "involuntarily washed" (we got soaked in a waterfall) the flip lid steamed up. There is nothing that can be done to alleviate this. Despite the fact that both the Otterbox and myself got very wet no water got anywhere near the PDA.

 

3. The flip lid did not seat firmly enough in the box and often flapped about. I solved this by using a rubber band to ensure the lid stayed shut, simple but effective.

 

Apart from that the case suffered a few knocks and now sports some scratches, but in all our travels the case did it's job and the PDA's were fully protected. Not once did a single drop of water or grain of sand enter the case. I think the best feature of the Otterbox is the peace of mind it gives that your equipment will be fully protected. I spent a lot of time actively thinking about how to protect my camera, I didn't have to give a second thought to my PDA.

Otterbox review Otterbox review

 

Conclusions  

The Otterbox 1900 will certainly protect your valuable equipment. During our desert trip my Nikon camera lens acquired a large amount of sand and now grates a little in use. The PDA was not affected at all. There were a couple of slight issues noted above, but overall the protection offered far out weighs these minor problems. Once again the case is quite large and bulky, but that is the nature of the task for which it is designed. It is of a much better size than the 3600 and of far better design than the 2600.

 

In areas where you are likely to experience extremes of weather, or environments then this case is an absolute must.

Pros

  • Full protection for your PDA
  • Connectors are accessible
  • Mounting system is easy and secure
  • Easy to install and remove PDA

Cons

  • A little bulky for everyday use
  • A tad expensive for casual use

 

References

Suppliers Website www.memory-map.co.uk 0870 740 9040
Pocket GPS Contributor

Mike Barrett

Pocket GPS Contributor Website

http://www.1st-ventures.com

   
Rating  
Construction
Useability
Protection
   
Overall Rating 93%
How did we achieve these ratings ? Review Ratings

 

 

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