Vaja Corp.' UMPC Case
Clinton Fitch | Reviews Editor
As long as Handheld PCs have been around, one of the lingering questions have revolved around cases. Some manufactures, Hewlett Packard most notably, made cases for their devices while others left it up to users to solve their case dilemma. Compounding the problem was the fact that most of the manufacture cases were, shall we say, unstylish at best. Utilitarian for sure but definitely not stylish.
Fortunately that has now changed. Vaja, the Argentinean company who has been make leather sleeves and cases for Windows Mobile devices for many years, has recently released a series of sleeves for Ultra Mobile Personal Computers, UMPCs. They sell the cases in four different sizes which opens these up to the wide range of Handheld PCs out there as well UMPCs. Vaja provided one of the cases to HPC:Factor to review and it is nothing short of stunning both in style and functionality. While the price of the case is on the higher end of the scale, there is little question it will provide years of use and look good while doing it!
Before I go over the case, a little word on Vaja. As I stated before, the company is based in Argentina and uses leathers from that country. Each of their cases are also handcrafted, assuring that details are paid attention to and quality remains second-to-none. As each piece is handcrafted, Vaja does not have a return policy. That means that when you purchase a case, double-check your measurements to assure what you are ordering will fit your device. On average, the total time from order to shipment is 20 days depending on demand and extras you ask for on your case. The wait is worth it however when you get your beautiful case in its familiar black box!
When you first open the box holding the case you are instantly hit with the deep aroma of the leathers used in making the case. If you love the smell of leather, Vaja will make you swoon! Judie Lipsett, my good friend from Gear Diary described the smell of Vaja cases as "yummy!". It is hard to disagree and only sets you up for the visual impact of the case itself.
The case provided to HPC:Factor by Vaja is the largest of the three in the UMPC lineup and is made from their Caterina leather line. Vaja was kind enough to let me select the colors so I chose the main leather to be Friar Brown with the accents in Vibrant Green. This is the same combination that I have used on all of my Vaja products and it has grown on me!
The front of the case smooth leather with the top flap extending down to approximately 3/4 of the way down. The flap itself has the accent strip of perforated leather and the silver Vaja logo on the opposite side of the flap. All of the stitching around the edge of the flap and accent leather piece are uniform and tight, showing the care made in its construction.
On the back of the case the flap is double-stitched approximately 2" from the top of the case. The accent leather also wraps around to the bag, giving a refined look to the back.
When you open up the front flap of the case, the back of the flap is the accent color - in my case Vibrant Green - with the Vaja name imprinted uniformly over the flap repeatedly. The imprinting not only serves as an aesthetic touch but also provides a level of grip on the flap.
The inside lining of the case is a grey tartan fabric which is smooth and soft to the touch but also assuring that it will not scratch your device as well. The lining covers a thin layer of closed-cell foam padding that is on all sides of the case, providing a moderate level of protection for your device as well. The base of the case is more ridged as it has a plastic strip that runs the length of the base. This strip is padded a bit more thickly with the padding allows the case to stand when a device is in it.
Inside the case there is also a small leather tab which can be personalized. In my case, I had the HCP:Factor logo imprinted on the tab and it looks great!
As I mentioned before, Vaja makes the UMPC cases in four different sizes. Below is a chart of the various sizes available:
If you decide to add text or a graphic to the inside tab there is an additional cost - $10 for text and $30 for a graphic. For this review, I have Case 1 which will fit the NEC 900/900c (tightly at first) and the SmartBook G-138. The Jornada 720/728 does swim around a bit in this case and Case 3 may be a better option.
The most obvious question is if the case is worth the cost. In my mind unconditionally yes. Having used Vaja cases for several years now, I have found the quality of construction and their ability to take wear-and-tear are outstanding, far beyond other cases. It is a classic case of getting what you pay for and while the up front costs are higher for Vaja, the fact remains it will likely be the last case you every buy for your device. It is the ultimate Handheld PC case in my book!
Be sure to check the measurements of your UMPC before ordering as multiple sizes are available.
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