Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The best protection money can buy....for your handheld device

Some of you will be buying those cute little handheld electronics games and cellphones for your loved ones this holiday season. I must pass along a story I got from a reader in Kings Mountain.

She bought a new Sprint HTC EVO phone for her son and was going to surprise him with it on Christmas Eve. She got it last week. Curious to see what all the fuss was about, she cracked open the case, and started fiddling around with it. She was cooking while she was talking on it, turned too quickly, and the EVO slipped from her hand and fell to her hardwood floor.

The EVO, which costs about $200 with a phone service contract, was ruined. It was cracked and bent and wasn't anything she could give to her 16-year-old anymore.

So she e-mailed me Sunday night and asked what could she get to protect her (second) investment in Sprint cellphone technology.

I've seen lots of protective covers and cases, but I think the King of Protection has to be the OtterBox series (otterbox.com). You can go with the Defender Series ($25-$50), which is like putting your device in a heavy, near-impenetrable shell, or the Commuter Series ($18-35), which is lighter and less protective but still able to survive the odd drop. Or two.

The Defender series is rugged and comes in different colors to fit BlackBerrys, iDevices and other handheld goodies. It's actually two cases in one. The first is a hard plastic shell that includes a clear screen protector. It's built into the case and sits well on your device. Once you slide your phone into the plastic shell, you put a silicone wrap around it.

Even though it adds heft, the Defender feels comfortable in your hand and allows access to all buttons and ports, which have covered access. Slight drawback: It can feel like a brick in your pocket at first.

I felt the only thing that could really, well, brick my phone with this case on it was dropping it in water. I wrapped one around one of my personal devices and climbed on a ladder and dropped it on my driveway. I said a quiet prayer as it fell. Nothing happened.

The alternative is the Commuter Series, which uses the same plastic-shell-wrapped -by-silicone-case tech, but everything is lighter and thinner, and you have the alternative peel-off screen protector. And where the Defender covers a portion of the front of the device at top and bottom, creating a bumper effect for drops, Commuter leaves the front more exposed. A face-front landing with Commuter might not be a good thing, but for everyday protection, it's a lighter alternative.

So the moral to my story is this: If you're buying handheld gadgets for the holidays, think about a good case to go with it.

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