I know I’m somewhat of a klutz, but I’d like to think my clumsiness doesn’t inflict weapons grade levels of damage. Naming no names, the same cannot be said for some of you. If you are *extremely* butterfingered then perhaps it’s time to invest in a rugged case to protect your smartphone. Whilst there are many already on the market, iPhone case experts Case-Mate have decided to add to the beefcake brigade with the new Case-Mate TANK. And it’s spelt will ALL CAPS so you know it’s tough.
“Sixty-seven percent of damaged iPhones are due to cracked screens and the current market does not provide users with an effective solution,” said Erik Attkisson, Chief Marketing Officer at Case-Mate. “We saw this as an opportunity to engineer a tough case that has the high-design aesthetic our customers expect while providing critical protection for both the screen and the phone.”
Designed using the principal theory that guided motorcycle helmet engineering, Case-Mate constructed TANK with a hard, impact resistant exterior and a shock absorbing interior. The textured hard shell covers the dual layer case and, like a motorcycle helmet, disperses the initial impact over a wide surface area. The interior layer absorbs the weakened impact; further safeguarding the phone against bumps and shocks. The interior is made of a soft silicone and features plugs over the phone’s ports to keep the inside free of dust and dirt. Color matching holsters complete the case. Wanna watch a video? Of course you do.
My favourite thing about TANK is the sliding screen cover that swipes across to defend your precious iPhone screen from the outside world. It smacks a little of overkill but then again I’ve scratched my iPhone 4 and 4S with keys in my pocket to perhaps it’s not so silly. It’s obviously a little bulky so the TANK is something I’d pop on when cycling, or perhaps running rather than sitting at my desk.
You can’t accuse the folks over at Case-mate of slacking in the iPhone case department. Hot on the heels of the Barely There and the Kayla Clutch, which we had a look at here and here and the ridiculously expensive limited edition Titanium case, which we had a sneak peak of here comes the Colourways case – the newest addition to their Constructibles Collection.
A complement to the Quartet and Stacks cases launched last year, Colourways is made of three separate primary colour pieces that overlap to yield a total of five colours when mixed together.
“One of the design innovations that Case-Mate has championed the past year is the idea of modularity – or what we are calling ‘constructibles’,” said Erik Attkisson, Chief Marketing Officer at Case-Mate. “We understand that ‘do-it-yourself’ and customisation are key trends with consumers and Colourways complements the movement by allowing consumers to create their own stylish accessory.”
The odd thing about the Colourways case is that it’s pretty much designed for the once mythical iPhone 4 white – the bright striking colours are a bit lost on the regular black iPhone but really pop on the white. Case-mate assured me it was a must-have case for summer and Autumn to go along with the hot colour-blocking trend. I have no idea what any of that means – but it does look pretty. If you want a little something to complement your white iPhone 4 then take a look.
If you’re tired of reading endless iPhone case reviews and wondering why your Samsung Galaxy S doesn’t get more love than look no further (well look no further than halfway through this article – I’ve snuck an iPhone 4 case review in at the end as well. Also maybe try not reading reviews for cases of phones you don’t own).
We’ve looked at a few casemate releases recently – battery packs, novelty animal designs and even a combo purse/phone thing that turned a few heads. The Barely There range however is in the less is more school of case making and is more about supporting your phone than it is about detracting. The slim and minimal case design is for people who are really into the look and feel of their Galaxy S II and don’t want to augment the design or add bulk to an already massive handset. In addition to protection, cases offer a way to bring a little colour to the device and the Barely There range comes in a variety of colours, including a T2-esque metallic silver.
Apparently made from specially engineered materials, including a hard-to-break plastic shell, the form fitting case slims in all the right places, getting out of the way of buttons, ports and connectors. Of course, this does make it a little bit like squeezing into a pair of perfect jeans and popping the case on and off in a hurry is a little bit difficult. Then again this is a problem that affects maybe 30 people doing case reviews and no one else so it’s not a major concern.
The iPhone 4 Barely There case is all of the above, just wrapped around a smaller, older and yet somehow insanely popular phone. There is a circular cut-out so you can let the world see your Apple logo except for the brushed aluminium version which has a lovely metal lining and a case mate logo.
It seems products which multi-task are the way to go. The latest new case is from Casemate which acts as a wallet and phone holder. Why not have two of the important things together and save some space? Why has no one thought of this before?
The Casemate Kayla clutch is functional as well as fashionable. The case is on the side of the wallet and unless is huge, it will fit in. I tried an iPhone 4 and a HTC Desire and they both fit in perfectly with room left over. The clasp secures the phone and feels really sturdy.
So what about the wallet? There are only 3 card slots. If you have a credit, debit and loyalty cards like me, this could be a problem. I would have loved a few more slots. The holders for notes and coins are quite tight and small so do not expect to hold much cash around. What I did like is a little holder in the middle to carry a pen or for the ladies, lipgloss.
It comes in various colours and materials. There is a canvass wallet and leather phone combo or all leather combo. There are several colours to choose from which contrast well and there is a colour for everyone. It is perfect for when you are going to the corner shop and just need your essentials. The wrist strap will ensure you do not lose your items and your hands are free. The wallet is well-made and the leather feels like good quality.
Overall, I like the concept but the wallet should have been a little bigger. It is just too small for me. You can get the olive green and cream version from Amazon for £42.95.
At the risk of repeating myself, the iPhone is fantastic but in many ways is a victim of its own success. The iPhone’s ubiquity distils much of it’s cool appeal and it’s rich and varied app landscape means it’s excellent phone battery life is quite poor mobile computing device battery life. Streaming podcasts in 3G via Instacast, whilst drawing in Brushes and periodically checking my inbox all take their toll on iPhones and many is the day when I’ve been “caught short” and needed to recharge mid-day at a wall socket.
Of course you many not always have a wall socket and the necessary cables to hand so the utility of battery backs such as case-mate’s fuel-lite iPhone 4 case speaks for itself. Whilst bulkier, more powerful battery packs are on the market, the case-mate fuel-lite is, pretty much as the name would suggest, a lightweight charging solution. Incredibly slim for a battery pack, the fuel-lite pads out your iPhone like a two week beach holiday, instead of the “I’ve let myself go” look of larger battery packs. From a protection point of view, the case covers the iPhone adequately and, whilst I wouldn’t hurl it against a wall, I wouldn’t freak out dropping it from a moderate height with the fuel-lite attached.
How does it perform as a battery? Well it’s only packing a 1020 mAh punch, so there’s a limit to what you can expect from it (of 1020 mAh). Other cases can charge your iPhone completely and then some, but they also double your iPhone in size and leave awkward looking bulges in your pocket. If you are a heavy iPhone user or can envisage going days without a charger then you should look into one of those. If however you find yourself running low at the end of the day and need a simple top-up then the fuel-lite may well be perfect. As previously stated, it’s very slender for a battery pack and the addition usage if gives you (up to four hours additional talk time) can be invaluable.
RRP £49.99 but yours for about £37 on Amazon (try haggling).
I found being at the Gadget Show a bit like being at Dragon’s Den with various people selling me on their mad ideas. Here are a few more stalls that caught my eye.
My flatmate likes to call Dyson the Apple of household goods, and I have to reluctantly agree with him here. The Dyson Air Multiplier fan in particular caught our eye. A bladeless fan, the Air Multiplier amplifies air 15 times and produces a smooth blast of air. As James Dyson puts it “I’ve always been disappointed by fans. “ And so he created the Air Multiplier – stylish, safe, easy to clean and child friendly. It’s also fun to play with and we think it would look great in the living room. The Dyson Air Multiplier™ fan costs £199 at dyson.co.uk and is available in selected design stores – it will be in most electrical retailers by the end of April.
CaseMate make funky cases for iPhones and we went and had a play with 3 of them. Hug was a charging pad where you place your mobile phone on the pad, without plugging it in. Fuel Max was a holster/battery extender that allows you to boost your battery at the push of a button. This was my favourite case, especially as extended sessions on games such as Plants Vs Zombies or Minigore have been taking their toll on my 3GS’s battery life. Finally, I Make My Case – allows you to create your own iPhone cover by logging onto www.imakemycase.com and re-mixing the designs of well-known graphic artists including Thomas Hooper, Deanne Cheuk and Shadown Chen.
Pretty much every other stand had a media hard drive playback device that could spit out 1080p resolution from mkv files. Standouts included the Sumvision Cyclone range (covered nobly by Andy here) including the Cyclone HD, which allows you to download, stream and share all from one box. Also impressive was the AC Ryan PlayOn! DVR HD, which had pretty much all the same functionality but with a much nicer media wrapper – a little closer to recreating the dream or a beautiful XBMC/Plex/Boxee style interface. Iomega also had a ScreenPlay device, but it was just lying on a table so we didn’t really get to probe it.
Qurve produce bespoke speaker systems in the shape of a perfect acoustic horn – “life’s natural amplifier”. Eye catching, crisp and very very expensive. FatMan by TLAudio had their Wi-Tube systems on display. High quality yet affordable audio systems that had an amazing Vintage feel to them and allowed Wireless iPod docking. Their systems stand out for the amazing sound quality due to the use of valve based amplification systems. They also had CHARLiE – high end PC speakers to introduce the average mp3 collection to a thing know as “Bass”.
USB Thumb drives are almost disposable these days (I get all my press packs on them) so I almost walked straight passed the YuuWaa stand until I realised what made them special. YuuWaa combines a secure USB stick with online storage capacity meaning you can automatically backup, access and share all your important data, music, videos and photos from multiple locations. As a big fan of the cloud, I liked the simplicity of the device and it would be a easy way to get regular people into backing up things online, as well as simplifying the sharing of large files. And they just release a Mac version, which made me happy (although minus marks for writing MAC in the press release).
3 had a nifty little in car Wi-Fi device that connects over the 3G network to create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot, allowing passengers to connect to the internet on a range of Wi-Fi enabled devices like an iPod Touch, Nintendo DSi XL or Netbook, without the need for wires or a USB connection. The MiFi modem is only £59.99 and includes 1Gb of data (various plans are available).
The name of the Self Cleaning Cat Toilet tells you pretty much all you need to know and it was one of my favourite gadgets – partly because cleaning kitty litter destroys all the cuteness from cat ownership but also because it looked ridiculously futuristic in an old fashioned way.