Reviews: Other

Proporta Aluminum-Lined Leather (Alu-Leather) MDA Flip Case

     Proporta is always quick to market when it comes to delivering cases to the market. When it comes to the T-Mobile MDA, both Proporta and users lucked out because the case has already been introduced for the similar style devices like the Qtek 9100 and the XDA Mini Pro. The Aluminum-Lined Leather Case is one of the cases Proporta has brought to the market for the device. It comes in two forms, one version that opens like a book and the other that opens from the top. This review looks at the flip case (top open). An interesting problem in making a case for the MDA is how to solve the problem of holding the device while still allowing the keyboard to open. Proporta has an interesting solution that fits the unique style of the device.
     Unlike many leather cases, the Proporta Aluminum-Lined Leather Case features aluminum between the leather outer shell along with a layer of foam plastic. This adds protection for the device while giving still giving a soft leather exterior. The black leather is accented by white stitching. The front and back faces of the device are protected by the dual aluminum/leather faces. Some of the sides of the device are also protected leather sections. When the case is closed, the front face features the Proporta logo and the claps to lock the case closed. The simple magnetic snap is attached to the back of the base by a leather strap that reaches over the top of the device. The back side of the device is completely covered like the front except for an opening where the camera peeks through. There also is a place to optionally connect the belt clip mechanism. The bottom of the device is partly covered by leather, but the headset port is exposed even when the case is closed as is the stylus (through you really cannot get the stylus out when the case is closed). Part of the left side of the device is covered by leather, but the up/down switch is exposed as is the connection manager button. On the right side of the device both buttons and the infrared port are exposed, but the soft reset button is not. The case opens from top to bottom. When the case is opened, the top, bottom, and front face all become exposed. The front face can easily reach around against the back of the device to be out of the way.
     A huge selling point of the MDA is its slide open style and keyboard. Most of the time, leather cases hold the devices in the case by having you slide the device into a sort of pocket that has the front face exposed. If that was done with the MDA it would not be possible to use the device while it was in the case. So how do you hold the device in the case while still letting the top face slide open? By using a piece of plastic over the keyboard to hold the bottom half of the device to the case, the device is secured in the case. How it works is there is piece of clear plastic that attaches directly to leather tabs small on the top and bottom of the case. The clear plastic also attaches to the left slide of the device via a large piece of leather. Having the plast attached to three of the sides of the case would hold the plastic, but would not hold the device in the case. To get it to the other side with out impeding the slider style of the device, the plastic is woven between the two layers of the MDA. The plastic thins from being the complete height of the device (when it is vertical) to less that an inch. Using the instructions provided, you slip the thing end of the plastic between the screen and keyboard halves of the device. The plastic as a piece of Velcro that connects to a tab on the right side of the device. The screen can be slide open and closed while the device is still firmly attached to the case. While another approach Proporta could have taken would have been to Velcro the back of the device to the case, this not only would have added thickness to the device but likely would not have been as secure as it is using the method Proporta chose. While the plastic does not restrict usage of the screen, use of the keyboard becomes slightly different feeling. Because there is now a layer of plastic over the keyboard, I found it a little more difficultly to use. Especially bad was the places where the key was split between being exposed and being covered in plastic. I think I might be able to get used to the plastic and if it covered the whole keyboard then at least I could say it was protecting my keyboard.  The keyboards buttons are still useable, the feel is just different.
     One of problem with the case that I had (which likely is indicative of most flip open cases) is that the leather piece with one end of the snap (for closing the case) kind of dangles over the earpiece. It just kind of gets in the way when you are trying to use the MDA. Another thing I did not like was that you can not plug the device in to charge with the case open. As I stated earlier, I do have some questions about the usability of the keyboard with the plastic over it, but I do think there is enough clearance and will not likely cause any problems having the plastic between the two halves of the device. But if you are someone that removes the case from the device frequently, it can be tricky to get Velcro between the device halves easily.
     The Aluminum-Lined Leather Case from Proporta is a stylish and practical way to protect your device. Especially for those that like leather over aluminum but still want the added strength, this case is a strong choice. Reasonably priced at $35, the Aluminum-Lined Leather Case is a good investment for protecting you MDA while still allowing the functionality of the device to be used.

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