Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Hand and Hide case for the Honor 8

The one downside to the great variety of Android phones out there is that it can be hard to find a high quality case for your particular phone if you stray from Samsung's popular models (for which everyone makes something). The one exception to this state of affairs is a small case manufacturer called "hand and hide" located in Portland, Oregon. These folks have a line of cases that cover an amazing variety of models including my new daily carry, the Honor 8.

First off, this is not run of the mill stuff.  The people at hand and hide use only thick, high quality leather and everything is cut and sewn by hand in the USA and subject to a lifetime warranty. If you have ever owned a Ghurka wallet or a Hartmann bag then you have some idea of the level of quality I am talking about. A hand and hide case will set you back about $100.  That isn't cheap, to be sure, but a similar offering from Vaja or Piel Frama will run you at least as much (and in the case of Vaja specifically, much more). When you consider that most of us carry our phones everywhere these days and also that the phones themselves have gotten so good that a few years of ownership isn't unusual, I think it makes sense to get a good case that you really like.

Each hand and hide case is available in a variety of different colors.  The case you see above is their chocolate brown model.  The case itself is made entirely of stitched and riveted leather with a sturdy brass snap to hold things together.  There is no plastic at all thankfully. The phone is held in place by a pair of shaped leather flanges and the fit is quite secure. I'm not the least bit worried about my phone falling out of this case.  It actually takes some work to get it in. As the pictures above hopefully illustrate, the cut-outs for the various controls and ports on the phone fit perfectly. The case includes three storage slots for cards and cash which I find very handy. In terms of protection, a case like this which physically covers the screen, is about as good as it gets. Lets face it, if there is one part of our phones that gets demolished easily, its the screen.  This type of case obviously adds to the thickness of the phone but I think the trade-off in protection is completely worth it.

For a phone like the Honor 8, which is a really good high-spec smartphone from a company that is relatively unknown in the USA, having the option of a great case like this is very appreciated. Everything else out there for this phone is relatively light grade plastic that, while reasonably protective, really looks cheap. For a piece of personal tech that I am going to handle 10-20 times a day, its nice to have something that doesn't scream "bargain bin" every time I pick it up. So, to wrap this up, if you want to treat yourself to a nice phone accessory that is both protective, useful and beautifully made, give hand and hide a good look.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

I am officially no longer a subway rat

From 1977 until a little while ago I was a dedicated NYC Subway rat. I had been riding those trains from the first day of seventh grade at Russell Sage Junior High School for thirty nine years. I had been all over the subway system. Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, you name the station I've probably been there.

Then one day about two months ago, it happened. I walked by the Long Island Railroad station in the middle of Kew Gardens on my way to the subway, like I had done thousands of times before. Only this time, I stopped. I don't know why I stopped that day. Maybe I was just tired or something. I'm still not sure. But I stopped.  I stared at the old station for a few minutes and the cautiously wandered over. There were signs indicating when the next train would arrive. There were machines to buy tickets from. There was a little waiting room with benches. And just like that, I bought a ticket. It was expensive. Round trip to Penn Station was almost double the price of the subway. But when the train arrived, right on time like the sign said, and I got in and settled into an upholstered seat, I was hooked. Eighteen minutes later, I arrived at Penn Station. I couldn't believe it. That's easily twice as fast as the subway.

Well, as it turns out, there is a transit check program that includes the Long Island Railroad. You get to pay for the tickets pre-tax. Additionally, the monthly ticket is proportionally less expensive than the individual ticket. It's still more expensive than the subway. But not staggeringly so. And it's really fast. I think I mentioned that.

So, goodbye to the NYC Subway and hello to the next phase of my commuting life. I'm still just trudging off to work every day. But at least I'm enjoying the ride.

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