Not everyone who owns a BlackBerry lives in the relative safety of the car or office. There are also the weekend warriors who can't bring themselves to leave their Berry at home, and insist on taking it rock climbing, canoeing, or white water rafting.
Introducing the OtterBox for the BlackBerry 8700. OtterBox manufactures cases for everything from laptops to cigars, and we were fortunate enough to get our hands on one of their 8700 models.
Lifting a simple latching mechanism on the back of the case allows the OtterBox to split in two. A groove inside of the box allows the BlackBerry to fit snuggly into place, and ensures proper alignment when the box is resealed.
Water-tight nubs on the OtterBoxs sides and keyboard align with the Berry keyboard and side buttons.
Using the OtterBox with the 8700 is like taking a shower with your socks on-- It doesn't quite feel right at first, but you'll still be able to wash your hair and come out just as clean.
Sound ports allow you to hear the ringer clearly, and the keypad is very responsive. The thumbwheel took a bit of getting used to, but works well. The screen is very clear and the phone doesn't suffer at all from its new suit of armor.
The case is incredibly tough, and even though the OtterBox website tells you not to submerge your OtterBox, our tests indicated that the box works very well under water, mud, and slush.
Let the testing begin
Our OtterBox took a real beating. First, it fell on to the ground and was trampled under foot until it was mostly indistinguishable from the surrounding ground.
After a short walk the OtterBox was ‘accidentally’ dropped on to frozen turf and then had a steel ground compacter roll over it again and again.
Tired with walking, the OtterBox accidentally fell off of a quad and was rolled over, crushed into the ground, submerged in icy cold water, and yet still came out water tight and with a crystal clear screen. It’s hard to see the OtterBox in the picture below because it’s being covered by a few hundred pounds of metal while taking a bath in freezing cold slush.
Even a game of Paintball, execution style, is no problem for the OtterBox. Personally, I’d never stand still and let anyone fire paintballs at me, but the OtterBox fears nothing. It gets messy, but doesn’t bruise, bend, or break.
There are limits to all things, and sadly we did find the breaking point for the OtterBox.
Our 5000 lbs John-Deer tractor, combined with a frozen driveway was simply too much for the protective shell and it developed a crack along the keyboard. While we didn’t leave a BlackBerry in the case for this particular test, we suspect that the Berry would be just fine.
Finally we took turns swinging at the cracked OtterBox with golf clubs and were able to separate the case from its internals. We’d show you the pictures but they’re just not pretty.
The Otter Box is the perfect BlackBerry accessory for anyone who includes a hard-hat as part of their normal work attire. It's also the perfect accessory for the weekend-warrior who wants to stay connected while getting their hands dirty.
If you ever want to take your BlackBerry to a construction site, a marine environment, wear it while landscaping, playing paintball, camping, driving off-road, or venting some frustration while golfing, the OtterBox is for you. If, on the other hand, you plan to drive over it with a 5 ton vehicle then we think you’re as crazy as we are.
As a final note, we really wanted to see how the OtterBox would standup to a Plasma cutter, but after a review of their website we didn’t notice anything about being flame retardant so thought it wouldn’t be fair..
Purchase OtterBOX for 8700: $99.95 in the CrackBerry Store
Update, May 18th, 2007: OtterBox Wins Best of WES 2007 Award