Lifestyles of the rich and case-less

CrackBerry Idol - Aloha Joe
By Kevin Michaluk on 5 Aug 2010 09:30 pm EDT

Using the Case-Mate Fuel and Aquapac Case

In keeping up with the Aloha Joe motto "Carpe Diem" (Latin for "Seize the Day")...I am constantly on the go, and lead a pretty active lifestyle. Whether it be hiking the slopes of Diamond Head Crater, surfing the breaks on the North Shore, or just chillin' with a Corona in hand at the family beach house; I have found two things:

  1. My BB has gotten wet and/or submerged in the ocean, the pool, a goblet of Corona, a glass Grey Goose and Patron more times than I care to remember... and
  2. Even though BlackBerry has a phenomenal battery life, I still find myself taking my BlackBerry's battery to the brink of death in about 2 days.

Thus, this week I will be reviewing two items that will hopefully bring an end to my BlackBerry worries:

  • AquaPac Waterproof Case (BlackBerry Bold 9700)
  • Case-Mate Fuel Rechargeable Battery Pack Holster (BlackBerry Bold 9700)

*Note: This is NOT a comparative review. No comparisons will be made between these two items, as they compliment one another rather than compete with each other.

AquaPac Waterproof Case

I am not really one for boundaries or restrictions, hence, I have never really relied upon and/or used a case or holster for my BlackBerry devices. However, like everything in life, there are exceptions. Living on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, it is inevitable that somehow, somewhere, and someday your BlackBerry will have a close call with water in some shape or form (ie. ocean, pool, rain, etc.) While I do have a few other waterproof cases, which are designed for the water-sports enthusiast, I haven't had the pleasure of using the AquaPac, until now. I wanted to see how it compared to what I normally use. Thus, came the hardest part of this review...deciding how to test the product?...Showering, Swimming, Water Skiing, Paddle Boarding, Shark Caging??? What was I thinking?...I'm Aloha has to be SURFING!



  • Submersible to 15ft/5m
  • 3-year global warranty
  • Clear rear panel for taking pics and video w/ device
  • Strong neck cord
  • Allows BlackBerry to float in water


Prior to placing your BlackBerry or anything of value in ANY waterproof case/bag/etc., one should conduct the following test:

1. Place a paper towel, tissue, or toilet paper in the case
2. Seal the case to the manufacturers specifications
3. Completely submerge the sealed case in water for about 10-20 min
4. Remove the case from the water
5. Open the case and inspect the paper towel, tissue, or toilet paper
*If the contents are dry, then the case is MOST LIKELY safe for your valued item(s)

At first glance this Aquapac looks like nothing more than a Ziploc on a lanyard. While my review takes into account, style and design, my focal point is/was whether or not Aquapac could protect my phone from water, salt, and sand exposure during vigorous water activities. I placed my BlackBerry Bold 9700 in the Aquapac Waterproof Case and secured the fastening latches as specified. Then I "tethering" (if you read my first review...this would be definition #1) the case to the rear of my surfboard. After a 3-hour surf session, Aquapac kept my BlackBerry dry and safe from water damage. I also got great water footage from my BlackBerry (some of which, was used in the video review).

The only problem I experienced is that, due to Hawaii's humid climate, moisture in the air inside the case can condense into water droplets. This problem can be resolved by placing a sachet of desiccant (available online from Aquapac) inside the case. This will absorb any such moisture, keeping the contents completely dry. In humid climates, it's strongly suggested that you use these sachets with all Aquapac cases.


  • Submersible to 15ft/5m
  • 3-year global warranty
  • Clear rear panel for taking pics and video w/ device
  • Strong neck cord
  • Allows BlackBerry to float in water


  • In humid climates, moisture in the air inside the case can condense into H2O droplets
  • Item only offered in one color scheme


While Aquapac gets nothing for style points, it definitely did its job and kept my BlackBerry safe from any water damage. Aquapac is available on for $24.95.

Aquapac Waterproof Case gets Aloha Joe's 3 out of 5 surfboard rating:

Aloha Joe Surfboard

Case-Mate Fuel Rechargeable Battery Pack

Like many of you, my BlackBerry is always with me, and I seem to be constantly on it for both business and leisure. Between the two, my BlackBerry's battery takes a beating on a daily basis. Though I have no complaints, as BlackBerry has a phenomenal battery life, I thought that I would give Case-Mate's Fuel Rechargeable Battery Pack/Holster a whirl.

Case-Mate Fuel Case


  • talk time: up to 9 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold life
  • internet use: up to 7 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life
  • video playback: up to 8 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life
  • audio playback: up to 24 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life
  • standby time: up to 250 additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life
  • holster can be charge via a pc connected USB or a wall charger
  • a fully charged Fuel holster can charge your 9700 from 75% battery power to 100% in about 30 minutes.

Case-Mate Fuel Case

FIELD TEST FUNCTIONALITY: (test conducted 3x/Figures are an average of the 3)

Upon first impressions, the "Fuel" appears to be sturdy and solid in construction with a strong 180-degree ratcheting belt clip. However, upon closer inspection, I was a bit disappointed at how weak FUEL's phone retention clip appeared to be. I was equally as disappointed to see that my BlackBerry could only be placed in the holster "facing outward", offering no screen protection.

During the limited 3 days that I had to review this item (due to the time it takes to ship items to the middle of the Pacific), I put Fuel through a mini "Field Functionality Test". As BlackBerry's standard battery life in itself is touted at GSM - up to 21 days/504 hours, UMTS - up to 17 days/408 hours; with only 3 days to evaluate this product, I did not have the time required to verify all of Case-Mate's touted features (i.e. features listed as "additional hours beyond standard BlackBerry Bold battery life). However, I ran through what I, as a "normal consumer" would be most concerned about:

  • Fuel holster took 5 hrs./15 min. to fully recharge
    (holster can be charge via a pc connected USB or wall charger)
  • Fuel charged my BlackBerry from 5% to 78% in about 1hr/25 min. (at which time Fuel needed a recharge)
  • Charged my BlackBerry from 75% to 100% in about 1hr/20min.

Case-Mate Fuel Case

During the 2nd day of evaluating the Fuel, my BlackBerry dislodged from the holster and fell to the ground. I find that this is attributed to the weak retention clip of the Fuel. My Bold now boast 3 battle scars...oh well I guess it's all in the line of duty for a CrackBerry Idol.


  • Fuel Holster has an On/Off switch; so you can decide when, where, and if you want to recharge your BlackBerry
  • It provides a quick re-fueling of your BB when fully charged.
  • Takes only a few minutes to recharge the BB
  • Is a holster and provides a quick extra charge when you are low on power
  • Can be charged with a Micro USB wall charger or USB for PC


  • After continued normal usage, the retention clip becomes loose, and tends to allow your BlackBerry to fall out of the holster, even if slightly tapped or brushed against
  • Holster does not provide face/screen protection for your BlackBerry. Your BlackBerry can ONLY be loaded/secured in this holster with the screen facing outward.
  • The price is quite high $74.95
  • I could not get Fuel to recharge battery when it went below 5% battery life or if your BlackBerry is completely depleted/dead
  • Case is a bit bulky


While FUEL does an amazing job at keeping my BlackBerry "fueled" and ready for action; first and foremost, it is a Holster, and as such I would expect this or any other holster to secure my BlackBerry safely. I was disappointed...who am I fooling?...I was devastated when my BlackBerry was dislodged from the holster and fell to the ground. This would be the first (and hopefully the last) "battle scar" that this 9700 would have to endure. Case-Mate Fuel is available at for $74.95. Case-Mate's Fuel Rechargeable Battery Pack gets Aloha Joe's 2 out of 5 surfboard rating:

Reader comments

Lifestyles of the rich and case-less


Kevin (aka Ryan Seacrest): Ahh Joe. Your videos are torture for me to watch. I seriously need to get some island life happening in my life. Now let's see what the judges thought of your review!

CrackBerry Idol Judges

Dieter: Hiliarous video! Great to see some specifics in the written review, especially nice pros and cons for each product. It could have used maybe one more round of editing to make each section feel a bit more cohesive, but that's a niggle. Nice job!

Georgia: After watching your first two videos and reviews I was super excited to see this next video and was not disappointed. The video was creative and informational from start to finish. The breaking news in the middle had me laughing out loud (Sorry about your Phone). I believe that people would watch your reviews even if they did not have a BlackBerry. The written review was equally engaging, it was nice that you tested out both products on the field. You're a shoe in for the next round!

Craig: Joe this is an epic video. Very well done, funny, informational, and scenic. Your written review was great too, covering all the important points about each case, backed up with specifications. Excellent work!


Hahaha. No one else could make a accessory review this funny or interesting. Only critique is that you didn't explain what exactly the case mate fuel does. I thought it was just a belt clip case until I saw the lights on it. Good thing your personality and creativity blow the other reviewers out of the water.
Going to be VERY hard to follow up this one guys.

Your video was entertaining and informative. You definitely have a flair for the video reviews.

The written review was well balanced and covered all the in's and out's. Definitely the best review I've seen this round so far!

Ok let the hissing and booing at me start now.

If I am wanting a review of an item that's what I want not to watch a comedy. The "review" made me not even want to read the written review.

Aloha means hello and goodbye. I am sorry I won't be able to put a vote your way this time, so I must say aloha Joe.

I'm completely with you on this one. I can't believe what a circus this site is starting to turn into with characters like this guy. In his last video review he didn't even say what the product did. He seems to reel his fans in with scenery and little to no value in the review itself.

I found that interruption rather disturbing, and it would definitely turn me off of watching reviews on a site featuring ones like this. I'd probably stop following the site altogether.

Here's hoping that people will realize that the CrackBerry idol winner is supposed to be writing articles for this site, and not wooing visitors with scenery and bad jokes.

This was the best video review I've seen on this website. Nothing against anyone else but it was entertaining and I came away knowing more about the product then I did going in which is essentially the whole idea of a product review. And really with a name like case-mate fuel it's pretty self explanatory what it's there for. It never hurts to change things up a bit. Just put your tea party signs down and live a little.

I am as Canadian as the start of BlackBerry. Made, born and lived here all my life. What you Americans have going on with this tea party thing - I dunno. You'll have to educate me on that.

Not every review is fun and games. Let's see a serious side of Joe. Kevin has fun when fun is due and brings home the serious reviews when needed.

But like I started off with, let the booing and hissing begin because I have a difference of opinion.

why does this site have to be stuffy and monotonous with the way video reviews are done? By what some of you wrote, that's what you want. I like to be entertained and it was, well, entertaining! Not that the current crackberry team is boring in any way, but this type of review adds a little more fun. I don't see a review of the Torch or any other major release being done in this manner, but for the everyday apps or accesories...I loved it.

good job!

while often used as a salutation...Aloha does not "mean" hello and/or goodbye.

“Alo“ means presence, front or face while “ha“ means breath or to breathe or the breath of life.

So the literal meaning is “In the presence of breath” or “In the face of breath” or “In the presence of the breath of life.”

With that Aloha Joe appreciates your comment, as well as your opinion.

The judges and Xopher basically said everything I would have said. So to keep this short. GREAT JOB A+ work! I can't wait to see what you do for us in the next round!

This is Crackberry Idol. This is the time to show your full potential. If Joe can pull a off a review like this, I'm quite certain he could do a serious one as well.

...would like to thank EVERYONE (esp. his fellow contestants) for the support as well as the constructive criticism. For those that are hating and not congratulating...that's ok, after all Aloha Joe can't be everyone's "cup of tea"...and...Aloha Joe is ok with that fact. Considering the company surrounding this competition, Aloha Joe is honored and humbled to be amongst these talented individuals. Further, Aloha Joe understands that you may have your favorite(s) and may be voting for "some other Joe". Regardless, Aloha Joe would once again like to thank EVERYONE! Mahalo!

Even though I'm not a tea drinker, I can appreciate what you're saying. Unfortunately these things can become a popularity contest, but I'm certain you have made it this far based on your awesome audition, and even better app review. Personally, I don't understand why people are "hating", but if it makes you feel any better, the people in my close group of circle that follow this really like you! I speak for myself in saying you're doing great! I look forward to seeing you in the next round. You have my vote!!!

For a contest, this video entry was great. It had creativity, personality, exciting scenes, good story line, fun to watch. Nice break from all the drama unfolding about RIM, OS 6, and the Torch. (No Verizon ever? WTF?!?!) I loved the scene of the BB in the hot tub. I liked the scene of the holster dropping the phone easily. Reminded me of my old Env before I went BB. My car door caught that holster just perfect about a dozen times a month and down went the phone on to the street. If it were a BB, it'd be toast. Fortunately, I got a Seido now that holds the phone securely in the holster, so I don't I drop my BB. Loved the Hawaii 5-0 music clip. The scenes of Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head. Very cool.

Now, let's get serious. Let's talk reviews. We the reader want to know is this product worth our hard earned money? Does it do as advertised? We want facts. We want the real story, not the sales pitch. Not the info commercial. We want to know does it do what it says it will do and what does it do exactly?

I felt your video fell short of explaining what these two cases do. OK, so you had a bb in a arm sleave while you sat in a hot tub. I had my BB, wrapped in a grocery plastic bag in pouring down rain at a football game in late December. Protected my BB just fine. So, why do I want to spend $25 for a Aquapac? Ziploc bags have been protecting my BB in wet weather. Why pay $25 for something I can get for a free or close to free?

I liked your written review. Nice and short, good flow, pros and cons were detailed. Good advice on how to test out the water pac, use the speciality pac if you're in humid places, but I would have liked it you could have explained why this was better than a ziploc bag. For the fuel case, I thought you spent a lot of time on the holster malfunction and not much how the case works. Informative stats, but I would have like have seen the phone in action.

Aloha Joe, I hope you are just playing a character in a summer contest. Because if this is the kind of a review we are going to get from you, this common theme of showcasing your venue rather than the product and sounding like a high school jock rather than a professional, I think Crackberry will suffer with you on the team.

I have a Fuel Case for my 8900 and never had a problem with it. The clip is very strong and there's no way it will dislodge. Perhaps the different form factor of the 9700 is a problem though, I am not sure.

Overall I'm satisfied with it, I can get through a 4 day weekend with juice to spare using it.

LOVED the written review. It's actually one of my favorites on crackberry (no offense to the regulars). ;) The video though... loved some, hated some. So that means it was alright.

I think if the video was posted AFTER the written review or the video was pieced out after each written segment it would have been prefect. But the video was more of a commercial for the written review letting you know what it as going to be about but not actually getting into the details of the products enough.

Still though... as a whole one of my favs!

Great job on the reviews! Especially loved the scenery, was just on Oahu last week for vacation. Love your Islands. looking forward to see you in the next round.


Aloha Joe, I've liked you other videos quite a lot, I've found them entertaining and informative.

This video however was neither and probably ranks up there with the worst review in the idol to date.

Here is why.

I honestly did not know what you were reviewing, my first thought it was the water proof armband.

Your scene did not flow, the constant scene shifts just added to the confusion, and pain of watching the video

The review provided no content, I was no wiser about the products you reviewed.

Honestly I think your trying to hard to be entertaining and forgetting that the primary role of a review is to provide users information about the product. People feel duped, it's like going to a comedy show and getting a lecture on Newtonian Physics instead.

On the plus side this is one of your better written reviews.

Cheers and good luck

Watched the video, and the "emergency news blurb" in the middle made me want to read to see what happened.

The waterproof case you used in the beginning seems better than the Aquapac, don't think I'd trust the Aquapac with my equipment!

I didn't even care about what was being reviewed but went ahead and read every word and enjoyed the pics and vids...way to go Joe!!