gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

OtterBox Commuter Plastic/Rubber Case For Nokia N900 Review

Ever looked at your Nokia N900 and thought: “this just isn’t bricky enough.”? Well, OtterBox have got a solution for you in the guise of the OtterBox commuter for N900.

In keeping with all of the other OtterBox cases I’ve tried, the N900 OtterBox Commuter is top notch, with a great fit and more protection than you can shake a pointy stick at. The only thing it doesn’t protect with gratuitous layers of rubber and hard plastic is the screen, for which they include a screen protector. Bonus!

It’s hard to imagine just where and how a clip-on plastic case will fit onto the Nokia N900, but OtterBox have done the leg work and created something that not only clips on extremely easily but is really quite a challenge to get off again. This is a good thing, because the case would be rather prone to popping off when you drop your phone otherwise.

Many have commented on the N900 as being remarkably drop proof, the OtterBox makes it even more so. The rubber layer absorbs shock and cushions your N900 with a soft layer that wont damage, scratch or scuff the phone itself. Because the case also clips straight on, rather than slides on, there’s no chance of bits of stray grit causing scratch marks (which I’ve seen on iPhones used with slide together form fitting cases). The outer layer is hard plastic, which adds even more protection, finishing off a double-whammy of N900 shock absorption.

To protect against the aforementioned dust and grit, not to mention moisture, the inner rubber layer covers all of the N900s periphery, apart from the speaker grilles, stylus and infra-red port of course, with a mixture of protective flaps (for the power/headphone sockets) and extruded buttons for the volume rocker, power and camera button. The extruded rubber buttons are some of the best I’ve ever handled on a device, and translate the feedback from the N900s buttons absolutely beautifully. It’s so well executed that you could be forgiven for thinking that the OtterBox was an integral part of the N900.

What isn’t quite so good, however, is the opening around the lock slider. It’s very tight, with an indentation that’s only just big enough for me to squeeze my finger in and slide the switch with the very tip. A sideways finger solves this problem, slightly, but it’s still quite a nuisance to get at.

The difficulty in separating the OtterBox commuter from your N900 may prove a nuisance if you frequently swap out memory cards or batteries and require access to the back cover. There’s a technique to getting the case off, and once you know how to accomplish it, it becomes quite straightforward. It still takes time, however, and adds irritating steps to the already frustrating task of dealing with the N900s fairly naff clip-on back cover.

The front portion of the case clips around the sliding screen of the N900 and includes a subtly cut-away portion that still allows the keyboard to slide out unimpeded. The front is very well secured to what little of the top half of the N900 is available for clipping onto, and is very tricky to get off intentionally, much less accidentally.

Stylistically the OtterBox is a perfect patch for the N900. That is to say, it’s black. From a distance you wouldn’t notice that the case is on at all, but close up it’s pretty evident from the bulk. Still, the finish on the black plastic is nice, and doesn’t pick up fingerprints quite so well as the front bevel of the N900.

Overall, apart from the slight difficulty getting to the lock slider and the impracticality of this case for anyone who swaps memory cards in frequently, the OtterBox Commuter really is a top notch case for the N900 which is surprisingly quite a loot sleeker than some of the slip cases I’ve tried, and much more pocketable due to its smooth outer surface. Ultimately, the OtterBox, which makes the N900 even more of a brick than it already is, represents the best fit for your pocket and the most out-of-the way and convenient case when it comes to general usage. It’s really an absolute steal at $35.

One unfortunate downside to the secure fit of the OtterBox and, in fact, most cases is that you wont be able to use it alongside the 2400mAh extended replacement battery for the N900, but you can simply use a couple of ordinary N900 batteries interchangeably.

Thursday, May 20th, 2010, Nokia N900.