Dead or Alive, You're Coming With Me -- The OtterBox 1921

Along with the Treo 755p that I reviewed a couple weeks ago, Palm sent snazzy case called the OtterBox 1921. Whenever I look at the case, it always makes me think of RoboCop -- the brain is in there somewhere, but it sure looks like a machine on the outside.

Along with the Treo 755p that I reviewed a couple weeks ago, Palm sent snazzy case called the OtterBox 1921.

Whenever I look at the case, it always makes me think of RoboCop -- the brain is in there somewhere, but it sure looks like a machine on the outside. Or, failing that, maybe Ripley in the freight loader at the end of 'Aliens.'

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Intended for use with Treo 680/750/755 models, the OtterBox is a rubberized, hard plastic case meant to seal off the Treo from crush or drop damage in hazardous locations. A double layer (hard plastic screen that flips up plus a soft inner membrane) protects the screen from damage. Also, the various joints and crevices appear sealed off to afford some water protection, although the marketing blurb specifically states that the OtterBox is not meant for underwater use.

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The outside of the OtterBox has keys that correspond to every key on the Treo: volume control, keypad and all the shortcut buttons. A removable rubber plug covers the bottom of the Treo, so I could synchronize or recharge the Treo inside the case. And, of course, the phone and camera work as well. Basically, I should never have to remove the case except when accessing the battery or inserting a MiniSD card.

One nitpick: The shortcut buttons are not marked on the OtterBox, unlike the keypad. Of course, with those buttons marked, the OtterBox wouldn't quite be compatible with both the Windows Mobile- and Palm OS-flavored Treos. As a result, people well familiar with their Treos will have little trouble remembering where the home or calendar buttons are, but newbies won't have a clue.

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At an estimated $130, workers on construction sites, field technicians or the criminally clumsy could find the OtterBox to be an excellent guard against damage to their Treos. Most anyone else will find the case entirely too heavy to bother with.

The unit does not yet appear to be available on Palm's Web site, although a similar model for Treos with an antenna nub is now for sale.