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With HP's announcement that it is discontinuing production and sale of webOS hardware including the brand-new TouchPad, those of us who intend to keep our TouchPads anyway are even more concerned about damage than we were when we thought replacement hardware would be available if necessary. With that in mind, and given that the TouchPad remains a powerful mobile productivity device, perhaps one of these three sleeves (all for sale in the PreCentral Store) may be a good choice. Each offers unique features that will appeal to particular types of users and uses.

(Continue on past the break for the full reviews)

1. The Belkin Max Sleeve

This is a very utilitarian neoprene sleeve, and holds the TouchPad (within a folio case) fairly snugly within its top-zipping, quilted interior. While it expands a bit to hold some accessories (and is unique among three by incorporating an outer zippered pocket suitable for cables, pens and the like, it is not wide enough to carry longer accessories such as the HP Bluetooth Keyboard. Additionally, while the outer surface is textured, the neoprene material is rather slippery to the touch. The Belkin Sleeve is probably best used to protect the TouchPad within a larger case such as a knapsack or briefcase, rather than as a standalone carrier.

2. The Speck Products PixelSleeve Plus

The Speck PixelSleeve Plus is probably better described as a mini soft-sided briefcase rather than a mere sleeve. Unlike the other two products in this review, the PixelSleeve incorporates a soft handle along the top edge; the zipper for the padded enclosure runs along the side. It is also wider than the Belkin MaxSleeve at 10.3" (the Belkin is only a bit longer than the TouchPad's 9.45" longer dimension; in our testing, the additional width allowed the PixelSleeve to also hold the HP Bluetooth Keyboard and we even squeezed in a TouchPad Touchstone and AC adapter. There is no external storage pocket to keep cables and other accessories separate, but the handle and extra width makes this the best of the three for standalone day-to-day use, especially for those who use their TouchPads with external keyboards as portable writing machines.

3. The OverBoard Waterproof Case

The OverBoard is more than just a sleeve; it is a waterproof case made of "environmentally friendly biodegradable thermoplastic polyurethane" whose clear outer front layer (the rear is opaque black) allows use of the TouchPad's capacitive multitouch screen while the TouchPad remains sealed and protected inside. Unlike the other two reviewed sleeves, the OverBoard does not easily allow the TouchPad to be inserted while remaining within its folio case; the fit is too snug, and the inner surface is sticky and adheres to the folio material. It may be possible to force it in, but we did not try, out of concern for damaging the integrity of the waterproof material. Once the TouchPad is in place, the OverBoard seals via four sliding latches in the hard plastic top (which also offers connection points for the included shoulder strap), keeping water, dirt and sand out. If you prefer not to use the shoulder strap, the back of the OverBoard has a hand loop.

Before depending on the OverBoard for inclement weather and use near/on the water (the case is designed to float and is "guaranteed submersible to 19 ft/6m), a purchaser should follow the included instructions to test and verify that the seal is intact. If you're going to frequent water-filled locations on a regular basis with your TouchPad, it's probably worthwhile to retest every few weeks or months to ensure the seal remains good. Assuming it does, however, the OverBoard is a great way to bring your eBooks, Bluetooth-transmitted music and games to the beach or poolside without excessive risk.

Filed Under: Cases; Tags: touchpad, HP TouchPad, TouchPad cases