Sunday, December 5, 2010

iPad Cases

Apple recently offered a whopping $51 off iPads, so W and I decided to treat ourselves for Christmas. I've been wanting one for a while - I have a laptop, but I mainly use it to surf the 'net and organize knitting patterns so I thought it would be nice to have something more compact and easy to use for those purposes. I'll be using the iPad mainly to read books/magazines, catch up on blogs, peruse Ravelry, and as a knitting pattern reader. I was largely inspired by this post from Indigirl.  Once I've had more time to use it for my intended purposes, I'll write a post on how it's working out for me.

In the meantime, I started looking at cases to buy. I knew I definitely wanted some protection for my investment, and the choices out there are overwhelming! I knew I wanted something that would cover up the screen, so that narrowed it down a little since it would rule out the skin-type cases that only cover the back and sides of the iPad. I wanted the screen to be covered not only for protection, but also to keep it from being too obvious that I'm carrying an iPad around.

I toyed with the idea of sewing up a sleeve for it, but those are really only good for transport purposes. I like this pattern from SewSpoiled on Etsy and will probably make it sometime, but I would prefer a case that's not made out of fabric. Fabric obviously wears down more quickly and is more difficult to keep clean. If I was a better sewist, I could probably make something in a more durable material but I'd rather leave it to the pros.

The first cases I seriously looked at are from Happy Owl Studio.

Clutch in red (has front pleats):

Wallet in black (functionally same as clutch but no front pleats):

Wallet Lite in brown:

The Clutch and Wallet are stylish, versatile, and functional. I love the way you can use them to prop up the iPad for typing or viewing. The wallet portion of them is fantastic also - ample storage - but that was actually a drawback for me. Since this would be a permanent home for my iPad, I didn't want to be carrying my wallet contents around at all times. I need something more streamlined.  The Wallet Lite almost fit the bill. The colours are lovely (especially that brown/blue combo) but it just wasn't quite right for me. I would've liked for the case to provide some elevation for comfortable typing (their idea of propping it up on your sunglasses doesn't do it for me). And I know it's picky, but I would prefer that the casing surrounding the iPad be more flush with the screen. So, while I would have been happy with the Wallet Lite, the search continued.

I checked out Apple's offering:

Simple, understated, effective. It provides the protection I would like and also can be propped up for typing by tucking the front cover into a flap on the back.

I also like how this case doesn't add bulk to the iPad. However, the reason I didn't go with this case is because of the material. It's made out of microfibre, which attracts dust and hair like nobody's business, according to many online reviews. My house is already covered with an assortment of cat fur and whiskers and I don't need to also be cleaning my iPad case. Seems counterintuitive to have to regularly clean the very thing that is supposed to keep the iPad free from dust and crud. I also watched quite a few YouTube reviews of this case, and you can see the fingerprints and dirt quite clearly on many of them. And, being picky again, it has a "ridge" around the perimeter of the case kind of like on the edges of a binder. While it's not a dealbreaker, I don't care for that as far as aesthetics go.

Next came DODOcase:

Beautiful!  I loved these immediately. They look similar to Moleskine notebooks and therefore don't scream, "I have an iPad!". The cover is made out of faux leather and the frame is bamboo. The cover can be folded back to facilitate typing, although the typing angle is smaller than that of the Apple case. The cover can also be used to stand the iPad up for viewing, although it doesn't seem overly sturdy depending on the table surface you're using. An elastic strap keeps the case closed when not in use. The iPad is held in place with rubber pads in each corner of the frame. Red is the main interior colour offered, with an assortment of other colours available at an additional cost. These cases are very popular and there apparently is a waiting period of a few weeks for them due to demand.

I almost purchased this - then I read the reviews. I read numerous reviews and watched several videos of the iPad falling out of the case because of worn-out corner pads. To its credit, the company offers replacement pads but I would prefer not to have to worry about that kind of thing. Some people have also experienced frame warping and wear. There are a lot of resourceful people out there who have employed their own fixes for these problems (e.g. velcro pads to hold the iPad in place when the corner pads don't cut it) but I think it is unacceptable to have to take these measures, especially considering the cost and wait times for these cases.  Plus, shipping to Canada would be $35 USD for two cases, which seems steep.

Pad & Quill was next in line for the Moleskine-style cases (by this time I had decided this was the style for me!).

The Volume 2 case utilizes a button closure that can also be used to stand the case up:

And Volume 3 employs an elastic strap similar to the DODOcase:

The features of each are otherwise the same, with Vol. 3 being slightly slimmer and lighter. The cover is made out of leather, and the frame is birch. A red ribbon lies underneath the iPad in order to facilitate its removal.  A "sound channel" projects sound from the speakers. I was unable to find much info on the mechanism that holds the iPad in place but it doesn't appear to be the same as what DODOcase uses. P&Q has posted a video briefly outlining the features of the Vol. 1 case, including a shake-test (which it passes). Red is the only interior colour offered.

This seems like a great case. There were not nearly as many reviews for this case as there were for the DODOcase, but the ones I did read were favourable. A few people expressed a dislike for the sizable logo on the front of the case, but I'm ok with it. What I wasn't ok with was the cost of shipping - $40 USD for two cases to Canada! Also, more colour options would be nice but I would be fine with red.

While looking up reviews for P&Q, I saw a Twitter post about Portenzo and the search was over. They have a variety of iPad cases, including (among others) the Moleskine-style and another one that looks like a composition book from grade-school years. I was drawn to the simple Notebook Style Case:

It basically has all the same features of the above Moleskine-style cases, but the quality seems superior (well, maybe not compared to P&Q but I couldn't find enough info/reviews). I was easily able to find many reviews of Portenzo's cases - all of them rave reviews. The iPad is held in place with "Sure-Grip Invisible Corners" - and it's clear the iPad isn't going anywhere once it's in there (see Portenzo's video on the home page or search YouTube for examples). Not that I plan on shaking my iPad and case around or holding it upside down on a regular basis, but it's nice to know it's secure. It's also nice to know I won't need to worry about repairing or replacing the corner pads. Several reviews also noted that the bamboo casing surrounding the iPad is of excellent quality and does not seem to be showing signs of wear as compared to other cases. This case also has cutouts to enhance the sound coming from the speakers. The apparent quality of these cases really appealed to me.

The clincher, however, was the choices. Not only is there an impressive choice of styles available, but there are several choices within each style if you go with the Notebook or Wingtip cases. For the Notebook, you have a choice of exterior material - Black Levant (grainier faux leather) or Black Morocco (smoother faux leather). You also have a choice of 10 interior colours - for no extra charge. For an additional cost, you can have the exterior engraved or get a frame with a stylus holder. The Wingtip gives you a choice of four colour combinations but no option for engraving or stylus holder.

W & I went with the Notebook case - Espresso for him and Deep Purple for me. I thought the Dark Blue Linen looked quite sharp but maybe not feminine enough for me so purple it was. No engraving or stylus holders. And shipping was a mere $16.95 for two cases!

I swear I don't work for Portenzo, nor am I affiliated with them in any way. I just really liked what I saw and can't wait to see the cases in person. Pics to follow once they arrive!

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