Review: Touchstone compatible Otterbox case for Pre Series by | webOS Nation

Review: Touchstone compatible Otterbox case for Pre Series by 9

by Jonathan I Ezor#IM Thu, 10 Mar 2011 5:08 pm EST

As miraculous a technology as is the Touchstone, it has forced a choice on some users: whether to use the Touchstone or some non-compatible peripheral such as a case or external battery. Steve Burlbaw of, who previously created the solution for Seidio 2600 mA extended battery owners to also use a Touchstone, has just added a new product to his offerings: a Touchstone Compatible OtterBox case for the Pre, Pre Plus and Pre 2. We were lent one of these new Otterbox cases for a brief review.

For those that may not be familiar with Otterbox, they make sturdy yet attractive cases for a variety of devices including Palm smartphones. The Otterbox Pre case, similar to other covers, consists of two pieces: a flexible, protective and grip-enhancing overlay for the back of the Pre, and a thinner rim for the front that extends past the touchscreen, keeping it from impacting on the ground if it falls face down. Both are made from "impact-resistant polycarbonate with rubber over-molding" (according to Otterbox) and affixed with clips, which seem sturdier and less prone to snapping than those on the Seidio Innocase. On its own, the Otterbox is a bit too thick to allow sufficient magnetic field strength to penetrate to a standard Touchstone back for attaching or charging on the stone.

As with his previous Seidio conversion, Burlbaw transplants the charging contacts and other Touchstone hardware from a standard Pre back onto the Otterbox, using hot glue. To enable connection to the Pre's battery, Burlbaw has cleverly bored a small hole in a regular Pre back, precisely above the battery contacts.

When the altered back is snapped into rear half of the Otterbox case, the Touchstone contacts go through the hole to make a firm connection, pressed in place by the altered back's attachment to the Pre. The resulting device is indistinguishable from a standard Otterbox-enclosed Pre (with the exception that it charges on a Touchstone dock).

The conversion work on the Otterbox case is well-done, and it connects to a Touchstone a bit more strongly than does a regular Pre back (Burlbaw installs extra-strength magnets to enhance the connection). Nevertheless, the magnetic connection is not strong enough to hold the Otterbox-encased Pre on a vertical Touchstone mount on a dashboard; it slides off almost immediately. Additionally, the Otterbox case (whether or not converted) fits only over a standard Pre back, meaning that one cannot use an extended battery and an Otterbox case at the same time.

Finally, the converted case is pricey: $90 including shipping (although approximately $26-30 of that represents the retail cost of the Otterbox itself. Additionally, if you already own an Otterbox, you can send it to Burlbaw for conversion at reduced cost (which varies depending on whether you include your existing Pre back). If you are looking for ruggedized protection for your Pre-series webOS smartphone, use the standard-sized battery (or an extended one that fits under the standard back), and don't vertically mount your Touchstone, this Otterbox conversion may be worth considering.


Protection plus Touchstone convenience Good workmanship Stronger-than-stock magnets


Price may be steep for some Only works with standard-sized batteries Doesn't stick to vertical Touchstone mountings