Toast Wood Cover

One of the cool aspects of the Android devices is the diversity of the ecosystem. When one puts it against the relative conformity of the biggest alternative, this really comes to bare. You can find an Android-powered device of just about any size, shape and price range.

Choice rules.

But even then, as Android reaches more hands, the bigger OEMs are grabbing bigger pieces of the pie. Fair, as the economies of scale allow them to make arguably the best devices for less. In any case, a slab is slab is slab, so how does one “make” a device that is unique.

That’s what Toast covers look to, by providing unique, exact real wood covers for devices.

The review package reflects the unit in it’s retail stylings, with the unit components and documentation.

The case cover comes in two pieces, one that covers the front frame and the other for the back. Together, the whole solution is pretty light and thin at first glance. The application of the pieces is intuitive: peel the backing off the back piece and front piece, line them up, and stick them on.


It does make for a pretty unique look without making the phone look emptily ostentatious. The cutouts are right were they are supposed to be, and the phone is completely functional with them on.

Now, this case isn’t made to protect against extreme drops or collisions; it does well to guard against usage nicks and the like, and even the bothersome scratches that might happen carrying a device in one’s pocket. If the goal is to go big on personalization, it does the deed quite well.

The ordering process is easy enough; head to Toast’s site, pick your device and select the options. We went through the process formally, and had our piece in under a week.

Vaja New Agenda Case Review

Vaja New Agenda Case Review

Dec 13, 2016

Almost as far back as I can remember — along my gadget-owning timeline — Vaja had been an accessory presence. The name mostly invokes classy quality, and even today, it looks to continually prove that smartphone protection need not be a completely utilitarian “p” word.

We figured it would be the perfect manufacturer to toss into our case roundup.

We asked Vaja to surprise us. They obliged with the New Agenda, custom made for the Samsung S7 Edge.

The review case underscores Vaja’s attention to detail, with deliberate wrapping. The case itself looks and feels good right out if the box, sporting premium Argentinean leather bound on a minimalist polycarbonate core. Said core commands most of the back of the case, and allows for a form-fitting snap-on system; it also had a getting flap that is intended to cover the front of the phone, and which gives it its “agenda” styling. It has the necessary camera cutouts, and the edgeless sides allow for manipulation of the host device’s signature panels.

It attaches to the device easily enough by snapping on, and the whole solution is quite intuitive, and just as easily removed. The fit is tight without being overly restrictive, and the four-corner design does an equitable job of keeping the case on securely.


The leather exterior culminates in the aforementioned flap that provides adjustable cover for the front of the device; the inner part is in felt, and houses a magnet to facilitate secure closure.

In usage, the case had a small profile, such that it provides close to complete coverage without too much added bulk. The seams are well stitched, which allow it to reside in the pocket without causing discomfort. All buttons and ports are easily accessible, and the case can even be positioned to hold up the phone in landscape orientation.

The case does prohibit wireless charging in our testing, but, in another vein, does work with wet-applied screen protectors. Big bummer on the former, yay on the latter. This probably won’t provide the protection that a hardcore case would, but it does help provide insurance against wear and tear and small bangs while managing to look good while doing it.

All in all, it’s a fine looking accessory that has added benefits. For an expensive daily driver, it definitely is a great complement.

The case is $49 on Vaja’s website.

Pelican Case Hardware Review

Pelican Case Hardware Review

Nov 23, 2016

Smartphones are serious business; we have to protect these expensive mini computers. As such, we are taking some time to look at some case options for some of the more popular current devices.

Our loose criteria is based off of style, usage and choice (we’ll be testing with a flagship device, but expect the cases we test to have options made for other devices).

Pelican has made gear that has stood the test of time; seriously, we mean some seriously tough stuff. Now that they also craft smartphone protection, it peli3only make sense to how its mobile products work in the real world. We got to see the Pelican Protector smartphone case in action.

In hand, the case looks and feels like a solid piece of hard plastic, with the cutouts and allowances made for the specific device our test piece was made for: the Samsung S7 Edge. The exterior comes in a light shade of blue with grey accents, while the interior is mostly in grey (there is a black and grey option as well).

Getting it on is as simple as snapping the phone into place; at first glance, it hugs the phone very securely. Towards the left, it utilizes soft cover buttons that work over the volume toggles, and the same setup protects the power button on the other side. Each cutout is precise, and the ports and openings are unobstructed and quite usable while the case is in place. The non-slip finish does come in handy with regards to device usage on the go and the case is fairly easy to remove as well when required.

The S7 Edge provides some interesting challenges when it comes to case coverage because of its side panels; the Pelican Protector side coverage sits right at the base, allowing the device functionality to remain.

In pseudo drop testing, this lightweight accessory does a better than decent job of protection. We did not perform any face down drops though.

Now, the Pelican Protector doesn’t necessarily dazzle from a raw style perspective, but its svelte build allows it to provide a tough exoskeleton while creating little extra bulk. At $32 (on Amazon), it is an affordable way to get Pelican toughness at home.

ZAGG Auto-Fit Folio 10 Keyboard Hardware Review

ZAGG Auto-Fit Folio 10 Keyboard Hardware Review

Sep 5, 2015

Bottom line? If I am going to use a tablet, I might as well get the accessories and peripherals that will make it work for me. I like the comfort of being able to use one as a laptop at least some of the time, so a portfolio-type of accessory is just what the doctor ordered.

One problem: not all tablets get the same treatment from accessory makers — which is somewhat understandable. What happens if you get a hardware piece that doesn’t have an iPad-like stable of third-party accessories to choose from? What if you have multiple devices with slightly different dimensions?

What about, say, an adjustable portfolio keyboard case, like the ZAGG Auto-Fit Folio 10″ Keyboard Case?

Well, let’s see.

It has mostly solid feel; mostly black, hard plastic constitution, and the parts seem well-fused together, with a surprisingly minimalist touch of moving parts. Appearance wise, it looks much like a folio cover it is advertised as, with one long hinge connecting the two main pieces.


The “bottom” houses the bluetooth-enabled keyboard. It is a full keyboard, packing in keys in a QWERTY layout, a number line and function line too. It also has dedicated “back” and “delete” buttons, and arrow keys too. For a mobile keyboard, it’s as full-functioned as one could expect. The spacing works well, and the individual keys are are far from overly firm. The wrist rest area is especially spacious; the entire bottom is pretty thin, but there’s just enough space for a micro-USB charging port on the one side, and an on/off-pairing button combo on the other.

The top portion has the piece’s main claim to fame; besides serving as the front cover, it manages to incorporate a spring loaded mechanism which serves to be an adjustable means of securing 10-inch tablets in place. It’s relatively simple set-up, and quite intuitive to use: just push in the tablet downwards and in, and the spring mechanism gently pops up, securing the tablet against the top lip structure.

We tried the setup primarily with two 10-inch tablets. Fitting them in and paring them up with the keyboard was easy enough. After pairing, it worked very well, with quick response time and a fantastic set of function keys that work especially well with Android: calendar, email, device- wake-up and more invoked with the touch of a key.

Physically, the top lip is wide enough that it manages to not interfere with hardware buttons that might not be that optimally placed.

As an added plus, it works well with Windows Tablets too.

All in all, it’s a great idea that actually works well. The Windows Tab functionality is a bonus, and while the keys could be firmer, and the re-pairing process can be temperamental, but at $49.99, it is pretty nice. It’s good to know that the folio comes in 7″ and 8″ flavors too.

ZAGG is currently offering a back to school sale; this is the time to stock up on some of your favorite accessories.

New Device? Urban Armor Gear Has the Protection You Need

New Device? Urban Armor Gear Has the Protection You Need

Apr 17, 2015

Urban Armor Gear is no newbie when it comes to protecting our ultimate accessories, and in New Flagship Season 2015, it is coming to the party ready. It’s military-chic cases are tough, and still manage to add in a dash of elegance… perfect for the weekend wanderer or even the 40 hr/week warrior.

With the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge upon us, it’s good to know that UAG already has a catalog for it:

Cases for Samsung Galaxy S6
– Available in the following colors: Black (Scout), Clear (Ice), Orange (Outland), Blue (Aero), White (Navigator), & Ash (New Color, Transparent gray)
– Feather-light composite construction
– $34.95 MSRP

Folio Cases for Samsung Galaxy S6
– Available in Black (Scout) and Red (Rogue)
– $39.95 MSRP
– Holds up to 3 credit cards
– Glare-free flash photos and un-compromised audio

Cases for Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
– Available in Ice (clear) and Ash (transparent / translucent gray)
– Armor shell and impact resistant soft core
– $34.95 MSRP

The entire lineup can be seen here; we should have a review out soon.

Samsung Ultimate Accessory Pack Review

Samsung Ultimate Accessory Pack Review

Feb 16, 2015

Ah the fun of buying new a smartphone! It’s always great having a brand new device to fiddle with, play games on or just enjoy using, especially if it’s a behemoth like the amazing new Note 4. However, a new phone means having to buy a new raft of accessories. Luckily, our friends at Mobilefun have a useful bundle of vital accessories available to get new owners of Samsung’s phablet up and running.

Billed as the Ultimate Note 4 Accessory Pack, this kit contains everything that a new smartphone owner might need.

First is the ever useful Micro Suction Desk Stand. This is a universal stand that will work with any phone model. It is a small, easily portable stand with a micro suction pad that sticks instantly to any phone. Using it is as simple as pushing the phone firmly onto the pad. Mobilefun have managed to do this in such a way that the sticky pad does not feel sticky at all to the touch and does not leave any nasty sticky residue on your device. The connection between the phone and the stand is very strong too; shaking the stand around will not dislodge the phone and you can rest assured that it will not fall or slide off. The stand even includes a plastic plate that can be stuck to the stand. This allows phones without flat backs, such as those in cases to be used with the stand without having to remove the phone from the case. This is a really nice feature.

Next is the Universal In Car Mount. This is a very important item for most any mobile phone owner. It sticks securely to the dash of your car and allows a clear view of your phone for actions like GPS and voice replies to SMS. The holder’s arms support any phone from the gigantic Note 4 to smaller iPhones. The suction cup uses a unique twist-lock mechanism that causes the device to stick fast to glass. It also includes an adhesive pad that allows it to stick to other surfaces like plastic.

I found this a bit problematic however. I tested this by sticking the phone to my fridge. After about half a minute the phone holder itself came away from the suction part and my phone ended up on the floor. The second item I tried, the suction cup failed and the entire holder ended up on the floor. While a great idea and very simple to use, I would not trust this device with very heavy phones.

Next is the Universal Car Charger. This is a familiar charger than plugs into your cigarette lighter and charges your phone. The device also includes an additional USB port to allow charging of two devices at once. This is very good.

There is also a smaller mini desk stand/desk stylus included. This is small enough to fit in a wallet and is very useful.

Also included is a basic Perspex case. It only covers the back of the phone, but it feels solid and does the job. 5 screen protectors are also included.

All up the Samsung Note 4 Ultimate Accessory Pack is a solid pack of useful items. The stand and the car charger work great and the case and screen protectors are a good starter set, although the car holder is a bit unreliable. For $30.99 its a bargain. Recommended!

Thanks to our friends at Mobilezap for providing the items for this review.

Increased functionality: why I still love the M8 Dot View Case

Increased functionality: why I still love the M8 Dot View Case

Dec 23, 2014

As 2014 comes to an end, I have to say that it has been a great year for smartphone enthusiasts. For those of us lovingly stuck on Android, it has been especially enthralling; device manufacturers have shamelessly tried to outdo each other, and with that competitive atmosphere, regular consumers cannot help but win.

HTC made waves with the refreshed One (M8). The timeless design, metal exterior and softer Sense overlay makes it a surprisingly relevant option even today. HTC has done an admirable job of creating a veritable hardware ecosystem around its devices. Items like the MediaLink and newer camera accessory definitely help one fall in love with HTC devices.

One peripheral piece I have always found intriguing is the Dot View case. HTC is not the first Android device maker to go above and beyond with regards to cases, but the Dot View brings the extras in an interesting, loose manner. The case itself is light, surprisingly so; it is mostly plastic, and on its own, looks like a book cover of sorts with the back and fused, dot-spaced front cover.


Setting it up is a matter of snapping it on; it fits perfectly with no gaps. On the M8, the companion Dot View app is the companion utility, and allows one to select apps that can be used with the case. In practice, the case is activated by a double tap, and then the cases utility is shown in all its glory. The display gets a retro feel and (depending on one’s setting) shows a simple data set of information through the device case. As a concept, I like it a lot: no need to open the case to see basic info and notifications, and even calls can be manipulated through the case. Yes, I admit I enjoyed reading the caller ID and answering the phone “through” the case way more than I probably should have.

My biggest gripe is the way the front works. The front naturally swings to shut, but doesn’t close all the way, as the cover doesn’t really stay plush on the phone. This little issue jumps on my singular OCD nerve.

In the spirit of nitpicking, I wish it was a bit more customizable. My biggest whine, however, is that the slim profile comes with a price: not a lot of physical protection. Frankly, I would avoid dropping it. Duh.

All in all, for a piece that is not that new, it is definitely a keeper. It’s gotten to the point that accessories are beginning to help tip the balance when it comes to picking upgrades.

The Dot View case underscores why.

Mobile Fun was kind enough to provide us with the opportunity to check out the Dot View case, and it is available to purchase (starting at $31.99) via the the Mobile Fun website

STM Harbour 2 Case Hardware Review

STM Harbour 2 Case Hardware Review

Jul 17, 2014

STM, as a company, is probably best known for its laptop bags; we had the privilege of reviewing its Trust Messenger Bag quite recently. In fact, STM has quite a few smart device case and covering offerings in its arsenal, and we got a formal look at the STM Harbour 2 Case for the current HTC One (M8). Like it or not, STM has a reputation to uphold, so I was more than a bit curious about this accessory.

The review unit provided highlights the red piece we received (it also comes in black and charcoal); the red finishing pops through the clear product packaging. Removing the box reveals more: the reddish hue and grey accents and linings and the seemingly precise cutouts. The otherwise solid piece does have an interesting bit of flexibility built alongside a grey band; along this strip, the unit could be lightly bended and manipulated; this allows for docking and can even serve as a pseudo-stand. It feels solid, but not overly rigid, and the hard plastic (polycarbonate and TPU) comes across as well-formed. On paper, the case is 5.7 x 2.8 x 0.4 inches. It is barely bigger than the M8 when standing beside it, and that is somewhat reassuring for folks who are reasonably concerned with added girth.


The unit snaps into place with a reassuring, subdued snap, and the first thing that really stands out is the fit. It does merge with the phone and feels with seamless; I didn’t get any creaking or unnatural gaps. The bottom ports have an open space in lieu of separate holes, and the power button, volume rocker are catered to. At the back, the dual cameras each have cutouts (which means the flashlight is also unencumbered), and there is also spacing for audio. The edges are mostly well covered, but there isn’t much of a lip for when the cased M8 is face down.

There isn’t too much added bulk, and the stand functionality does come in handy in portrait, even though it is isn’t as smooth of a solution as an incorporated kickstand. It does provide a degree of protection in pocket too, and the case still allows for wireless charging via add-ons. The SD card on the M8 is covered, but the IR blaster works flawlessly.

The case is a good option in a relatively crowded sub-section, and it more or less holds its own.

The STM Harbour 2 Case is available for $27.12 via Amazon.

Seidio Dilex Combo Case Hardware Review

Seidio Dilex Combo Case Hardware Review

May 23, 2014

I like to think that protecting mobile devices is serious business. Further to that, finding the delicate balance between functionality, bulk and appearance can be daunting.

Seidio has been making cases for a while, and its expertise goes across manufacturers, platforms and even device form factors. We had an opportunity to review its Dilex 3-piece Combo Case, and it was a fun endeavor.

The review samples arrived in the telltale red Seidio boxes; the first had the Dilex case pieces, and the second contained the holster. The samples were black (Seidio also offers white, brown, purple, blue and red); it actually comes in two interlocking segments, each lined on the inside with black felt that completes the hard polymer the pieces are made out of. The upper (bigger) portion has the camera cut-outs, while the smaller portion has a light metal kickstand. d2

The aforementioned holster has a fairly minimalist design, with a spring release mechanism at the top, and edged corners and sides. It too is made of hard plastic, with a clip on the back.

In action, the two case pieces fit perfectly on the HTC One M8 they were wade for, with a groove system that lets them lock into place. It creates a gapless system, with little added bulk, and openings for buttons, audio jack, charging port, cameras and mics were well-placed.

Fitting the cased phone into the holster was just as seamless. The system provides a front-facing system, so the phone is subject to another layer of protection, because in the case of a drop, the back (cased) portion of the phone is exposed. The pieces all feel secure when used together, and even rigorous shaking doesn’t dislodge the cased device. As an aside, the holster also works with other thin cases, even though it is no officially rated for them, albeit with a much more relaxed fit.

I wasn’t a big fan of the release mechanism, convenient as it is; it just feels that a lot of use might test its longevity. Besides that, the Dilex works well as a protective option that doesn’t look like Medusa. The added benefit of being able to use the two main component segments more or less on their own adds value to the overall package.

The Dilex Combo can be obtained via Amazon for $47.08.

iLuv Introduces Accessories for Samsung Galaxy Note 3

iLuv Introduces Accessories for Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Sep 10, 2013

Wait, Samsung’s already made a third one? There’s no way someone can keep track of all the Galaxies Samsung’s been releasing recently. They should pack them in universes or something. Anyway, iLuv is releasing a line of great accessories and cases for the new hardware. They come in all shapes and sizes, be it a standard protection case, vallet stand, or another type of clothing for your Galaxy. A complete list of iLuv products, including these ones, can be found on an Official iLuv Website

Mophie Juice Pack available for Samsung Galaxy S4

Mophie Juice Pack available for Samsung Galaxy S4

Aug 29, 2013

Mophie Juice PackIf someone, like me, can’t understand what the hell is a juice pack – it’s a powered case for the mobile phone, which serves not only as a protective shield, but also as an additional battery, prolonging the life of a smartphone by a considerate amount. Mophie Juice Pack comes in black and white colors, and promises that its 2300mAh battery “…will provide up to 80% extra power with the flip of a switch…”. At the price of $99.95, it better should. It also boasts an impressively slick and compact design, not an inch larger than standard cases. The official order page is here: Mophie Juice Pack

KickStarter Spotlight: Casetop

No matter how many awkwardly sized “phablets” or mini-tablets there are, the same issue will appear. There is just no way to combine the portability of a phone with the screen size of a true tablet or laptop. There is a directly inverse relationship between the size of a product and its convenience and portability. Imagine then, if there was a device that was optional, and that acted as a portable monitor for any smartphone. There are products out like this already, but a majority of the are device specific, and thus, not very marketable. The way Abilene, Texas based design team Livi Design chose to solve this problem was to make a straightforward device that was flexible as well as progressive.

The project’s name is Casetop and as is common for many of these KickStarter projects; the idea is so simple that it is a wonder this device has not been mass marketed prior. All the Casetop really is is a screen built on top of a battery and keyboard. Most smartphones plug into the front of the keyboard and are instantly displayed on the screen. With smartphones becoming more powerful their capabilities are increased and yet the small screen size limits what they, realistically, can do. Even with a bluetooth keyboard it would be difficult to write up a paper or long email, but plug it into the Casetop and there instantly is an 11.1″ display of the connected smartphone.

Screen Shot 2013-05-08 at 2.29.20 AM

The construction of the Casetop is being overseen by the same company that produced the wildly popular Pebbe E-Watch, and there are a few other big name advisors to the project. One of the biggest points that is made in the promotional video is that the Casetop will feature fully customizable parts and allow for easy updating; making the Casetop something that can be bought with confidence, as it will not become obsolete in a year or two. The screen is currently only 720p but a stretch goal will bump that up to 1080p. Also, the Casetop is supposed to deliver unreal battery life. As in somewhere in the range of 30 hours, and all for around $250.

It is hard to look at this and see something I do not like. A solid, eco-friendly design, quick connect and disconnect, veteran advisors, a low price, and a commitment to sustaining one product over many years. The Casetop is asking for $300,000 to make an initial run of 1000 machines, and currently they are just under $60,000 with 25 days to go as of writing. So, go out and consider giving to a great cause, because some day we all might be carrying these around with us instead of laptops.