Review by Dave Burrows
Price $99 USD / £89.95 / €141.21
Back in February 2003 we reviewed the Otterbox Armor cases which included the Heavy Armor and the Otterbox 1000. The full review can be found here.
Otter have brought out a new case to compliment the Armor range, and this is the Armor 3600. It looks great, perhaps a little larger than the previous models, but the design cannot be faulted. Aesthetic wise, the case looks perfect. What Otter have now done is to create a universal case, which is larger, but still waterproof and crush proof and can fit any, and I mean ANY PDA into it and use a single screen saver rather than a specific screen saver for your PDA type.
As soon as I saw this, I fell in love with it! It just screamed out to me, buy me! As many of you know I now have a HP iPAQ 2210 as my primary work hourse, and this is somewhat smaller than previous iPAQ's and I was concerned that the poor 2210 would be rattling around inside. I can safely say there's no way of it doing that, in-fact if you look at the photo to the right, you'll see how well the HP iPAQ 2210 fits into the Armor 3600. There is a small gap at the top and bottom of the iPAQ, but apart from that, I'd say it's not a bad fit for a universal case.
The top flap/screen you see opens upwards and is made of perspex, and under this is what is called a screen saver. It's hard to describe what it is, but think of a layer of clear rubbery plastic, or perhaps cling film but probably 100 times thicker. I suppose in a sense, it's like a normal PDA screen protector but much thicker. What this does is protect the PDA from becoming wet if it's raining or you dropped it in a river.
The Armor 3600 has seals all around the inner outer edge, and also around the screen saver to make sure it keeps water and dust out, and the PDA airtight. Now to get your PDA into this, the case splits into two, the back half comes away from the front half. In each corner you'll see a clip, this is a clip that is very tight and pulls the back and front parts of the Armor 3600 together to make a solid seal around the waterproof seals inside.
From the outside, the Armor 3600 fits together quite nicely. On the sides you'll see the yellow seam that runs around the outer edge of the box. This will not let any water in due to the waterproof seals within the unit. Looking at the back, you have a studded back which helps when you grip the Amror 3600, and all the dark gray plastic is a rubbery plastic so having this slip out of your hand should never happen. Also on the back you'll see at the top and bottom two screw holes. This is for attaching optional accessories like the hand strap that Otter supply.
Let's open up the Otter 3600 and let you see inside it. Once you release the 4 locking clips you'll be able to separate the front and back sections of the case, and inside the front section, you will see two velcro straps. What happens is you place your PDA under these straps and strap them in (like a seat belt), and in the first photo below you will see a HP iPAQ 2210 strapped in ready to go. You'll also notice around the edges of that plastic screen saver that there is a rubber seal, this is what I was mentioning earlier and seals the screen saver in place to stop water penetrating into the main compartment. At the very top and bottom in the arched area of the case you'll see what looks like a bung. This can be removed and an optional accessory can be attached which allows for cables to hang out of here and into another box, again keeping it water tight. Otter really have thought of everything here!
You will see in the top right photo that underneath the straps is a foam insert, like pictured below. This sits in the back part of the case, and is very thick and helps push against your PDA to push it towards the screen so you have a nice snug fit and it doesn't go slipping around inside the case, no matter how small it is.
Which PDA's are supported ?
Otter say the Otterbox 3600 supports the following PDA's:-
iPAQ H3600, H3700, H3800
Palm m100 - m130
Casio E-125. E-200, BE-300, EM500
HP Jordana 520,540,560
Palm III. M500, V, Vx, VII, i705
Sony Clie S320, 415, 610, 615, 710, 760
Visor Edge Deluxe, Neo, Prism, Platinum, Pro
Handera 330, NEC, Sharp, Toshiba
Sony Clie NR70V, 665C
Palm Tungsten T
Dell Axim X5
iPAQ 1910 and 5450
We can also vouch for the 2210/2215 too!
Installing your PDA
Otter have created some very simple visual instructions on how to install your PDA into the Otterbox Armor 3600.
Otterbox have created a welcome optional accessory, which allows you to plug cables into the bottom of your PDA and still keep the whole case waterproof! This plug locks into the bottom of the case (once you've removed the bung), and you will find 6 rubber grommets. These can be pulled back and you can force your cable through each whole making sure it has a tight connection.
Otterbox have created a superb protective case. I'm impressed with the cases they have, most companies claim to have waterproof seals and crush proof boxes, but Otterbox really do. The case is a little large and bulky, but once you get used to it's size, it's not a problem. The Armor 3600 comes in two colours, Fluorescent Yellow and Midnight Black. The current price from the Armor Store is $99 USD and can also be purchased in the UK and Europe from Memory-Map for £89.95 or €141.21 Euro's including VAT. The only real downside is storing the Armor 3600. As you see from the above photos the foam insert has to be deep. If you store the Armor 3600 in a locked/closed position with the foam insert inside, it can stretch the screen saver. Something to be aware of!