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I started shopping for a new computer months ago. While I’d repaired and rebuilt a number of laptops and old desktops, this was to be my first completely-fresh, bottom-up build. During both the research and building phases, there were a number of questions I couldn’t (at first) find answers to. Hopefully, this post will provide an answer or two for somebody else out there trying to do something similar.

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Yes, yes, reviews. I find myself making more and more purchases online these days (does anyone else get sick of walking into retail stores and hearing, “Oh yes, we carry that, but we don’t stock it… But we could order it for you!”).
Part of online shopping is reading as many peer reviews as you can stand. I like to get a wide cross-section to flatten out any bias, but it’s still hard to find frank and direct reviews written by neither either elitest snob haters nor cross-eyed gibbering fanboys.
So I’m doing my part, and writing up a few reviews of stuff I’ve picked up, with a focus on picking up on those facets not covered anywhere else I’ve encountered; the little everyday things that most reviewers miss, the stuff that only shows up after a little hard usage and time.
Yes, boring stuff for many of my three regular readers, but maybe useful for some other practical online shoppers out there.

After over a week of delicately shuffling my new Pre from one carefully-emptied pocket to another, fiddling with the supplied faux-leather sleeve, etc., I ordered up a skin and holster. Then I ordered another.

I tried out a few at Best Buy, and they all sucked. Unlike the otherwise brick-like iPhone or Blackberry, the curvy and sliding Pre is hard to wrap a useful protective surface around. I went back to the internet, read a slew of reviews, and ordered the Seidio Innocase Surface sleeve and Innocase Holster from pre|central.
The Surface sleeve is great. I got mine in flat black; the exact same shade/texture as the Pre Touchstone back cover. The cover snaps on in two pieces with these tiny precise tabs, no problem. The cover works well enough with the Touchstone; the magnetic attraction is a bit diminished (the phone sometimes needs an additional nudge to find “home”), but the charging seems to work just as well as without the cover.

The Innocase holster I got is the one specifically made to fit the Pre with the Surface cover attached. This combination has pros and cons:
The screen is very protected, as the extra .6mm of the cover keeps the screen from making any contact with the already-felt-protected face of the holster.
However, the spring clip of the holster bumps over/around the cutouts on the top of the cover, by the power, mute slider, and audio port. No marks on the cover or phone yet, but the action is less smooth than otherwise.
The belt clip on the holster is very good: positive rotating detents, strong clip spring, and a pronounced hook on the clip. This will not fall off your pants.
The sole major failing of the holster is in the way the retaining clip is attached to the body of the holster; with the Pre removed from the holster, the empty holster is a Snag-O-Matic seatbelt- coat- door- and countetopr-grabbing Claw of Self-Destruction, and the retaining clip only lasted me two days before snapping off. It is simultaneously perfectly designed to hold the Pre securely when in place, and woefully unable to withstand any other stress with the Pre removed.
However, everything else is so good, I couldn’t help but immediately order an exact replacement from pre|central, who, by the way, have provided me with nothing but quick, simple, and direct service. I’m trying my best to be more careful with the new holster…

After the first 210 miles, not too much to say here. This thing just works, pretty much as advertised. For the mounting options, rich feature set, and robust construction, I’d call this an excellent value.
I haven’t had it in any particularly harsh weather, so I can’t comment on the water resistance, although it looks like it could take it. Both the display and sender are chunky and well-rubberized; the look might not be to everyone’s tastes, but they definitely won’t be harmed by rough service.
I have noticed that the screen will show a pronounced circle of condensation when moving from one extreme of climate to another; this soon dissipates, and doesn’t seem to affect any of the functions.
The vertical viewing angle is a little limited; when mounted on my level/slightly down-angled stem, the display was very washed out. Mounted on the bars, you’d easily tip the display back to correct this. With my narrow swept-back townie bars, I elected to mount the unit on the top-tube, which works just great for me.
I had at first thought the single-button/”buttonless” control scheme might be overly simplistic, but in practice it works just fine. After that initial week of constant on-bike fiddling, I now pretty much leave the display on the “dist/day” setting.