RadTech ScreenSavrz and Sleevz Laptop Case

December 30, 2008

I love my Macbook Pro, almost as much as my wife… Sometimes, maybe more. A little bit. So, for the one I love, I’m always looking for the optimum protection. Years ago, I came across a company called RadTech, and I picked up a couple items that have been with me for awhile now.

First, is the RadTech ScreenSavrz. It’s a piece of mirco fiber, made form a material they call Optex. It’s quite soft, and serves multiple purposes. It can wipe down the computer screen, or exterior, and polish it all clean. Also, it’s made to completely cover your keyboard so the Laptop screen never comes in contact to the keys. On an old Powerbook of mine, I had keyboard marks on the screen, and it drove me crazy. Even using one of the ScreenSavrs, key marks STILL appeared on my screen, so when I upgraded to the Macbook Pro, I picked up another one, and I currently use 2 when I close the lid. It DOES make for more snug closure, but after 2 years, my screen is flawless.

 

ScreenSavrz

ScreenSavrz

 

They also make a great product called Sleevz. This is an Optex sleeve that the entire notebook slide into, almost like a bag. It’s fit is very tight, much like a skin, but it is easy to get on and off, as the Optex has a bit of stretch to it. Not a lot, but just enough. This has kept the exterior of my Macbook Pro scratch free and perfect, looking brand new, after 2 and a half years.

 

Sleevz

Sleevz

 

I have found that the Sleevz seem to last about a year, before they start to wear holes in the sides. This is however from removing, and putting the sleeve back on the laptop very heavily (about 6 to 10 times a day) every day for a year.

Spending almost $3000 for a Macbook pro is an investment, so the small price to pay for RadTech products is worth it to me, and my Macbook looks the exact same as the day I brought it home.

I can’t say the same for the Mrs… (Don’t worry ladies, she’ll beat me when she reads this.)


InCase Slider for iPhone 3G

December 29, 2008

I never owned a slider for the first generation iPhone, but it was always reviewed with very high marks. People seem to love this case, so when InCase announced the case for the 3G, I placed my order for a matt black case.

When it arrived in about a week, I was pretty amazed at how thin and light this case was. It’s very sleek and the material is quite smooth. The matt finish creates a sort of grip to the case, so it doesn’t slip out of your hand as easily as a naked phone.

 

Incase Slider Black Matt

Incase Slider Black Matt

 

Putting the case on the phone was interesting. It was VERY tight sliding it on. The Power Support screen protector I had on the phone was immediately pinched and lifted from the screen, rendering it useless. The bottom half went on just at tight.

This case is so thin, it adds almost no bulk to the phone. It’s actually hard to tell a case is even on. The case will protect the phone from scratches, but I would have to think, that a drop would not do much to soften the impact.

 

Incase Slider Black Matt

Incase Slider Black Matt

 

 

Then, I had a series of problems…

After only 2 days of normal use, the black matt finish started to flake off the phone, exposing a gloss black plastic underneath, showing me this finish is most likely a sprayed on coating. This was unacceptable for a brand new case. 

I tried to remove the case. Holy Hell. I needed a crowbar to get it off the top of the phone. I was worried about scratching the phone taking the tight case off. It took a lot of patience and wiggling, but I finally got the InCase Slider to remove it’s death grip from my iPhone, scratch free.

I called InCase. I told them about the matt black finish issue and the slider death grip. I was told that InCase was AWARE of both problems, but they shipped them anyway. He told me the coating had too much oil in the mixture causing it to rub off, and not harder properly. He also admitted to some cases being made slightly smaller, the first run to be exact, when they built the case on spec, and didn’t have an actual iPhone to build and test from. WTF? Wow. I couldn’t believe this guy was telling me this.

After days and days of back and forth, sending photos, send scans of my original receipt, and several promises to ship a new case, I thought it was over with.

ONE MONTH later, i still have no case replacement. I called again, asked for the same person I spoke to before, and he remembered me. he DENYED the issues he told me about. Flat out said he knows nothing of these issues. Again, I was stunned. He then says he’ll make sure my case ships, personally.

3 more weeks, the new case arrives. I put it on the phone. Death grip. Removed it, AGAIN with care, put it back in the box, and sold it on Ebay as quickly as I could.

So, the InCase Slider. I have mixed feelings.

 

Appearance: 4.5

Protection: 4 for scratching, 2 for impact

Customer Support: 2

Lives up to the hype: 2

 

Damn. I do LIKE this case. I think it’s sleek, and really cool looking. I hear some of the different colors fit better, and don’t have the flaking issue, so my judgement is based on the lemon I got in black matt. I wouldn’t write the case off, but I’m not sure I’d drop another $30 on an InCase product, until they restore some confidence in me.


Griffin Autopilot and Arkon Car Mount

December 29, 2008

I have been looking for a good solution for a car mount for my iPhone. I had originally purchased an adjustable mount, that sat in the cup holder. This worked for a short time, but after while the pressure clamps that the base sits in the cup holder wore out. I bought a suction cup style mount from the same company, and I didn’t like mounting it on the windshield, as a few times the suction cup would give way under the weight of the iPhone, and the entire clamp and adjustable arm would fall to the floor. Being paranoid of breaking the screen, this solution no longer worked for me.

I found an iPhone mount, that actually uses the bolt of the car seat to mount the arm to the floor of the vehicle. The quality is fantastic, and the gooseneck arm is very durable. This has got to be the most industrial feeling product I’ve come across, and it’s perfect for my needs. The clamp itself is made by Arkon.

 

Car Mount

Car Mount

 

The best word I can use to describe this mount, is “Industrial.” It’s honestly the most SOLID mount I’ve seen. Heavy and strong. Even the gooseneck is hard to bend, so once it’s in place, it stays there. You have the freedom to tighten all the bolts and brackets on the unit, to secure it and make it feel like a part of the car. You’ll get normal vibration, but this will help keep it in place.

I’m REALLY impressed with this unit, and I highly recommend it.

All you need to do to attach it, is loosen the passenger side seat bolt, and slip in under the bolt, and re tighten the seat down. Literally a 2 minute install. I was worried about the arms, because I use a case on my phone, and I’m happy to say, it fits perfectly with a little room to spare. The clamp that actually holds the iPhone is removable, and it seems to be universal, as the other clamps I bought from BestBuy can be used instead if I wanted. 

 

Seat mount

Seat mount

 

If you put an uncased (or naked) phone into the clamp that comes with it, I would say fully open, there’s about .25 of an inch on each side of play. There’s also another 8th of an inch in foam to hold it, so unless the case adds a huge amount of width to the phone, my guess is it would fit.

The phone holder full opening is 2 and 11/16 or 2.6875. The foam is just a touch over 1/8 of an each on each side. So, the naked iPhone does have about 1/8 on each side at it’s widest opening, and another 1/8 each side in foam. Good amount of space to handle a case. Something like the Otterbox may be too wide, but I’d say 90% of the options out there will work great.

I ordered it from The Mount Guys on ebay, and it arrived in about 4 days, for the low cost of $19.99.

With this, I didn’t want to charge the phone from the dock connector, and have another wire from the headphone jack to the Aux pot of my stereo, so I found that the Griffin Autopilot is a perfect Choice.

 

Griffin Autopilot

Griffin Autopilot

 

Technically, it doesn’t support the iPhone 3G, so when you plug it in to the phone, you get the warning message saying it’s not made for the phone. Ignore it, it works, perfectly with my 3G phone.

The Autopilot not only charges the phone, but has a built in aux output on the unit, to use the superior sounding dock for the audio output. 

Here’s the official statement from Griffin on the Autopilot…

A new twist to the classic car charger for iPod: Track Control. AutoPilot is a sleek, low-profile power adapter AND iPod controller that plugs into the cigarette lighter or power socket in your dashboard or console.

AutoPilot’s illuminated knob gives you controls for Play/Pause and Track Forward/Backward. Press play; you get tactile feedback that lets you keep your eyes on the road. It’s the perfect complement for iPod touch (or any iPod) while driving; you never have to glance down or touch the face of your iPod.

But there’s more to AutoPilot than “just” power and control. AutoPilot uses a line-level output jack to send the best possible sound from your iPod to your car stereos equipped with Auxiliary-In jacks.

You get fingertip control of the music, clean sound through AUX-IN, and you arrive at your destination with a fully charged iPod. The easiest way to control, charge and play your iPod on your AUX-In-equipped car stereo.”

 

The Arkon Mount, solid, industrial feeling, quality. BUY THIS.

The Griffin Autopilot, if you have an aux port on your car stereo, OR a cassette adapter, this is the perfect solution to charge, and play audio with only one connection to your phone. It also comes with the 1/8″ aux cable. BUY THIS TOO.


SwitchEasy Capsule Neo and Capsule Rebel

December 29, 2008

Before I even get into talking about these 2 cases, I want to say something about SwitchEasy’s customer service. Every other company in the world needs to pull out their notepads, and take notes on how to not only back up your product, but do it in a professional and timely manner. This was the most pleasant experience I have ever had with a company when I had issue with their product. A very big thank you to Zoltan Steiner for a top notch company.

OK, on to the cases. First, the Capsule Rebel. This has got to be one of the coolest looking cases on the market today. It’s construction is a very unique 2 piece case. The first layer is a softer material. Not as soft as silicone, but bendable, harder rubber. It’s hard to explain. Pliable, soft, and durable. The phone slips into this piece first, and it protects the bevel, sides, and bottom of the case. It’s a matt finish, and does a great job of not picking up lint. The second part of the case, is a hard plastic that snaps in place, and looks like the spine of the case. This also protects the 4 corners, and the top of the case.

 

Capsule Rebel

Capsule Rebel

 

 

SwitchEasy gives you a lot of amazing accessories with their cases. Small, and appreciated items like a dock connector plug, with the Neo, a Earphone plug, the basic microfiber cloth, screen protectors, a squeegee to install said protector, a stand to watch movies with, and probably the smartest feature, that EVERY case company NEEDS to include, a universal dock adapter that fits the cased phone. Absolutely brilliant idea.

Back to the Rebel. It looks amazing, has great protection, and pure style and class. ONE thing stopped me from loving this case, and that was the softer material used on the bottom portion of the phone. The soft matt rubber type would bend and sag exposing the bevel a bit. The fit was not perfect, and because it’s so easy to move around, any bit of dust or dirt under the case would scratch the hell out of it.

I wrote SwitchEasy, explaining my issue, and this amazing company told me to keep the case, and they would send me out a Neo instead to see if I liked that better.

Enter the Capsule Neo

 

Capsule Neo

Capsule Neo

 

The Neo is amazing. Quite possibly the best case I’ve owned to date. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. It’s not a case for people who plan on removing the case often, as installation is a bit tricky. The case is put on in 3 pieces. The first piece is a very thin silicone membrane. This covers the entire back of the phone, and the bevel like a very tight, thin skin. The volume rocker, and the top power button is covered, with only the camera hole, the mute button, the headphone jack, and the bottom open. The silicone membrane of the Neo allows you to feel the buttons underneath easily, and protects very well. It is however tedious to line it up perfectly.

Once the membrane is installed, the hard plastic glossy “H” frame is put on. Again, this is a frustrating step, as when you try to get the “H” frame over the corners, it tends to move the silicone membrane… The same membrane you just spent 10 minutes lining up perfectly. Yeah, that one… After lots of adjusting, and finagling, the “I” frame is snapped in place, creating a centered matt finish, giving the case an over all hard shell from top to bottom.

Damn, this a sweet case. It comes in black and white. I own both. After a few weeks, the white “I” frame does turn from white to an off white, or egg shell color, and seems to continue to discolor over all. I’m not too happy with that, but it’s on the wife’s phone, so who cares, right?

The Rebel comes in all sorts of color assortments, and is easier to put on. The softer material on the bottom of the case is it’s only flaw.

The Neo comes in Black and White. It’s pretty tedious to put on, but once it’s on the phone, it’s almost impossible to find it’s rival in class and style. A friend saw mine, and said “That’s PIMP.” That was really an UN-METAL thing to say to me… Secretly I agreed.

 

REBEL OVERALL: Solid 4

NEO OVERALL: 4.75 – Almost the PERECT case.


Belkin Leather Laminate Case for iPhone 3G

December 29, 2008

The ongoing search for the perfect iPhone case has led me to much trial and error, and many $29.99 dollar cases, now collected in a box. Any friends of mine pick up a new iPhone, I’ve got you covered with a case.

I picked up the Belkin Leather Laminate Case. The leather connection must be for my love of metal. The go hand in hand you know. This case is sharp looking. Very smooth leather wrapped around a hard shell laminate case. The protection on this case is decent, but far from perfect.

 

Belkin Leather Laminate Case

Belkin Leather Laminate Case

 

Everything is exposed, and easy to get at, and maybe a bit too much. The phone itself slides into the case from the top, leaving the entire top of the phone exposed. This also makes it easy to push the phone out of the case, at times you don’t want that to happen.

The bevel is covered, this is a plus. Because the top portion of the case is open, it gets snagged easily on a pocket, or a purse (for you ladies… Or some dudes I suppose). My wife had this case at one time, and actually cracked the laminate so the front was dangling down. Now, my wife is not a gentle dainty flower, and back in the day she actually cracked a diamond in half… Don’t ask me how, but she did it. Even the jeweler was stunned. Said it was a 1 in a million chance of hitting that sucker JUST RIGHT… She’s good for that sort of thing.

Oh, and you’ll love this… The website lists a “feature” of this case as “Custom graphical lining and exterior.” SO, if you’re looking for some SWEET inside custom pattern no one will ever see, then THIS is the case you need!

Here’s how I rate this Belkin product…

 

Quality: 3.5

Looks: 3.5

Ability to impress chicks with it: 1.5

Overall: 3.5


Griffin Elan Form for iPhone 3G

December 29, 2008

On my original iPhone 2G, I was quite pleased with the Griffin Elan case, so when I picked up the 3G, it was one of the first 2 cases I picked up.

The Griffin Elan Form is a hard shell case, leather wrapped, and this time is built in the slider style, so the bottom of the case is removable so the phone will still work in it’s dock, if you should use the dock.

 

Griffin Elan Form

Griffin Elan Form

 

It comes in 2 colors, one solid black, and the other a hideous and disgusting pink and brown. Who the hell would buy that? As far as the black, I really love the look of this case, as the leather wrap gives the phone a sort of business class look. The hard shell case provides good protection, and the bevel is completely covered. A feature I insist on when looking at cases. All the ports are uncovered, and operate easily.

I found 2 issues with this case, that eventually forced me to switch to another brand. First, the leather that is glued to the hard shell case began to peel away after only a couple weeks of use. It seems to have softened, like Ron Jeremy at a puppy dog sale. This was really disappointing. When I contacted the company about the issue, they told me “Cosmetic defects do not warrant case replacement, because it has no bearing on the protection of the phone.”

Ugh. Not cool. Not at all. Way to get behind your product.

Issue number 2, and the final straw for me was the bottom “slider” portion of the phone was very loose, and could be pulled off the phone easily. Like, one finger easily. This really pissed me off, and I found myself constantly pushing it back on the phone.

Overall, I rate it like this…

 

Protection: 4

Looks: 5

Quality: 3

Innovation: 0 (Incase Slider anyone?)

 

A good case compared to any silicone on the market, but Griffin themselves have better options. Try the Clarifi.


Contour METAL Bluetooth Headset

December 29, 2008

Recently, I found myself in the need of a new bluetooth headset. I own the original Jawbone in Black, and the wife has been saying she wanted one. Having a beard on my face, didn’t allow for the microphone sensor of the Jawbone to work properly and fully use it’s noise cancellation feature, so it’s going to her (who does NOT sport a beard), and off I went to find something more beard friendly.

I wanted small, light weight, and cool looking… I hate looking like a complete moron wearing one of those. I was considering the Apple made headset.

At my local Apple store in Oak Brook, IL, They did indeed have the Apple brand headset. $99 without the dual dock. Since the original ear phones hurt my ears (It felt like wedging a dime in my head) I saw the ear piece was the exact same. No way. I’ll pass.

Looking at the shelf, I saw it… The Contour METAL. How BAD ASS is a product called METAL? Being the long haired freak I am, I had to look into it more. Looking at all the other brands, something kept me coming back. METAL. Hell yeah. I bought it. 80 clams. And no bulbous earpiece to split my ear canal down the middle with.

 

METAL, baby!

METAL, baby!

A couple weeks later, I’ve had the chance to fully experience this earpiece. I like this. No, I love this. It’s weight is so light, you hardly notice it when its in your ear. It comes with several different size rubber ear pieces, some that fit inside the ear canal, and some that sit just on top. If you use the pieces that sit outside your ear, it also comes with a clear ear hook, that hold’s it securely to your head. But, I’m all guy, so it’s in the ear for me. No sissy ear hook.

The charging system is unique. It comes will all sorts of extras. The USB auto charger, a USB 4 inch extension cable, a small belt clip like holder for the earpiece, the earpiece itself (Yeah, I know) and the small USB propitiatory charge adapter. Got all that? I’m not sure I do…

 

METAL Accessories

METAL Accessories

Using the METAL, the sound on my end is great. It’s very clear, and the volume is nice and loud if needed. The reception to my phone to the earpiece works well, even when I walk up to 10 feet away from the phone, so for the car, or home calls, this is perfect.

When calling a friend, I asked him how I sounded on his end. He told me crystal clear, loud, and perfect, just as if I were using the phone normally. This is him… Would you believe him?

 

His name is Austin.

His name is Austin.

But, when I called my mother, she said “You sound muffled, like your in a cave.” had I actually been in a cave, I would have had the perfect response, but no, I was in my living room.

So, for $80, this unit is perfect for my needs (Unless I’m calling my mother) and I would highly suggest it (Unless you’re going to call my mother). It’s ultra light weight, sounds great on my end, and has the most BAD ASS name in bluetooth headset history… THE CONTOUR METAL!  

\m/