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Old 03-27-2006, 06:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hands on review: Vaja 8700 RI052 Cases

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Vaja RI052 8700x Custom Build Cases

Hands on review by lgreenberg
March 27. 2006

First off let me say that I have been a fan of Vaja for a very long time. I reviewed one of the very first cases they ever made, for the Palm Vx, back 2000 when the company was first started. Since then I have owned many of their cases for various devices from Ipods, Palm, Treo etc.

When I first saw that they had released a case for the 8700c I was psyched. I immediately ordered three cases in various configurations. I couldn't decide what color or what clip I wanted so being the lush that I am I just went ahead and ordered all of them.

Well all three cases arrived today.

They now come in a VERY large box.

As you probably gather from my earlier thread the news was not good. The fit on all three cases was just too tight. So tight I couldn't even get the 8700 to fit all the way inside the case. In order to even get it in almost all the way I have to push so hard on the 8700 I feel as though I might break it. I removed both the set of Egrips and I had installed and the Best Skins Ever as well. Still no go.

I e-mailed Vaja twice before finally getting a response from their customer service department.

Hi Lawrence,

Our cases design was meant to be very tight. As you might see the best way your Blackberry will stay safe inside the case is if held tight by both sides.
You should also take into account that as all new leather garment, the case has a tight fit. So at the beginning all our cases come with a rather tight fit since with time and use leather will stretch due to its natural features. Leather is indeed a flexible material.
In some days time you will notice that your cases will allow you to remove the device more easily.

Anyway, please follow these tips:
To insert the case you should take the case from the sides, press down firmly from the top of the device but without applying any pressure at the sides, since this will prevent the unit from going down. To remove the item, you should press from the bottom edge until the top of the unit protrudes 2 cm approximately from the top of the case, and when you see there is a gap between the edge of the BlackBerry itself and the bottom edge of the leather, insert your finger in that gap pressing the unit upwards.
You will notice that with time and use, as explained, your leather case will adapt to your BlackBerry perfectly achieving a perfect fit.

Ixxx180;d suggest you give it some time to adjust, then please get back to me and let me know how it worked out.

Thank you.

Best regards,

Nora Stolzenwald
Customer Service

Not really the response I was looking for. But I did as suggested and I tried again to do it and the device went in only as far as before. Then I literally could not get it out. It was almost to the point where I thought I might have to cut the leather apart to free my device from the case. After five minutes of the hardest pushing I could muster I eventually free it.

It was then time for drastic measures. Since I was getting nowhere with Vaja and figured the only way I was going to get my device inside one of the cases was if I could somehow stretch the leather without destroying it. So that's just what I did. I searched around for something larger enough to stick into the case (that would allow me to get it out) and wide enough that it would put pressure on the sides of the case and cause it to stretch.

Enter the old trusty calculator.

Using the calculator I was able to stretch the leather enough so that it made inserting and removing the device from the case easier. Even so, once I was able to get the 8700 into the first case the fit still wasn't right.


1. RI052 - CUSTOM ----- Classic RI51 for BlackBerry 8700c ( Aniline )

Color: Aniline midnight-navy / midnight-navy

Backside:Without clip - classic

PERS:No personalization

ari052c Soft Leather Lining

Price as reviewed: $60

I'm wondering if the fit problem has something to do with the lining on each case. More on that later.

All of these cases are "play-thru" cases. Meaning you do not have to remove the Blackberry from the case in order to use it.

None of these cases have a built in sleeper magnet.

There is a cut out on the back of the case for the speaker so alerts and ringtones are not muffled.

I ordered this version with no belt clip and a soft leather lining.

There is a cut out for both the charging port and headset jack.

There is a cut out for the trackwheel and recessed piece where the escape button is located.

This case has a clear plastic screen protector on it. The plastic is very rigid almost like plexi-glass. It's not like the soft, clear plastic found on most PDA cases. I would think it'll do a decent job of protecting the screen, but it also might scratch easily. Time will tell.

Overall I'm disappointed in this case. The fit isn't great and the leather feels very thin and cheap. This is not at all what I've come to expect from Vaja. It's hard to tell from the pictures. The fit actually looks worse. When you look at the screen dead on straight the fit seems okay (you can see the entire screen.) But when you look at the screen at an angle, which is how we most often view of Blackberrys part of the screen gets lost under the case.

Pros: Slim design, built in screen protector, play-thru.

Cons: Bad fit, leather feels thin, no sleeper magnet.


2. RI052 - CUSTOM ----- Classic RI51 for BlackBerry 8700c (Aniline)

Color: Aniline black / black

Backside:Rivet Clip System - classic

PERS:No personalization

ari052c Matching Leather Lining

Price as reviewed: $90

Since for the most part the cases are identical I'm not going to repeat the features again. Instead I'll focus on anything that's different.

With this case I ordered Rivet System belt clip and matching leather lining.

The Rivet system is an extra $5.

The Rivet System comes in it's own box.

It consists of two parts.

The belt clip:

And the stud holder:

You combine the two and lock them into place to create the clip:

The clip fits VERY tight on the belt. There's little chance it'll come off unless you want it to.

The case does swivel 360 degrees when clipped in.

It's quite easy to remove the case/stud from the clip. You simply press the button on the clip and the case releases downward.

I like the design and functionality of this clip.

Pros: Slim design, built in screen protector, play-thru, Rivet system works well.

Cons: Bad fit, no sleeper magnet.


3. RI052 - CUSTOM ----- Classic RI51 for BlackBerry 8700c ( Vitelino )

Color:Vitelino Jean

Backside:Ultraclip -classic

PERS:No personalization

ari052c Soft Leather Lining

Price as reviewed: $70

I ordered this version with the soft leather lining and the ultra clip. This clip is the standard swivel clip many of us are familiar with.

The case does swivel 360 degrees when clipped in.

Pros: Slim design, built in screen protector, play-thru.

Cons: Bad fit, leather feels cheap, belt clip does not ratchet, no sleeper magnet.

One thing I should mention. As most of you know there is currently no 8700 specific cradle available. I own the 72xx series cradle and with this case installed the device fits perfectly in the cradle. When I place the 8700 into my cradle naked it's prone to fall out. Nothing holds or locks it in. The leather of the Vaja case creates enough hold that it prevents the device from falling out. Bonus feature.


Bottom line. Ixxx8217;m not a fan of these cases.

The fit is a major issue. It does seem that the case that I ordered with the matching leather lining fits easier into the case. Where as the ones which have the soft leather lining are tougher to get in and out.

Neither really fits perfect. The problem with the top bar exists in all of them.

1. The fit is poor. Itxxx8217;s very hard to see the top menu bar (where battery, signal, time and date are shown) of the Blackberry when in this case. Perhaps the leather will loosen up over time and the fit will become better. I don't think I'm going to use these cases long enough to find out.

2. Ixxx8217;m nervous that the built in screen protector will end up getting scratched.

3. The leather feels very cheap. Itxxx8217;s not the Vaja leather Ixxx8217;m used to.

4. Customer service is not great. Ixxx8217;m still waiting for a response to all the issues I raised.

Last edited by lgreenberg : 03-27-2006 at 07:40 PM.