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iPad Cases Part I

May 31st, 2010
MacNN takes a look at six different types of sleeves for the iPad in i

All of these cases loosely fall into the simple case category, as opposed to slipcases or bags. They completely cover the iPad and have zipper or Velcro fasteners to prevent the iPad from falling out of the case. Many manufacturers have created accessories for the two-month-old iPad. The cases are some of the most popular accessories with consumers. After spending several hundred dollars for an iPad, people want to protect it, and there are many types of cases available.

MacNN received a variety of cases, which we will compare in a couple of articles. This first article compares the Acme Made Slick Case, the NewerTech iFolio Black, the Waterfield iPad Ultimate SleeveCase, the STM jacket iPad, the Targus Crave Sleeve-iPad, and the strangely anonymous Targus iPad A7 Sleeve.

All of these cases loosely fall into the jacket or sleeve category, as opposed to the slipcase, bag, or screen protector categories. All of these completely cover the iPad and have zipper or Velcro fasteners to prevent the iPad from falling out of the case. The cases all protect the iPad when carrying it inside another case, such as a backpack, purse, or briefcase. Several of the cases also have handles or shoulder straps for carrying stand-alone.

Two of the cases, the iFolio and the Slick case, are designed to work like Day-Timers, because they fold open into a book-like format, and have straps to hold the iPad in place. This design lets you use the iPad while it is strapped into the case. When you want to travel, you just fold up the case, zip it up, and head out.

The other four cases are designed to hold the iPad while traveling. When you reach your destination, which could be as close as the nearest coffee shop, you must remove the iPad from the case to use it. When you're ready to leave, you put the iPad back into the case and go on your way. These cases are great for traveling light; they all hold an iPad plus a cable or two, and fit in the seat back pocket on an airplane.

In the details below, we include the link to the case in the name. Each case includes the price, a MacNN star rating with the positive (The Good) and negative (The Bad) aspects at the end of the description.

Acme Made Slick Case

The Acme Made Slick Case works two ways. If you want a slipcase, one side includes a sleeve into which you can slide the iPad. However, if you want a case that the iPad stays in semi-permanently, the other side of the case has four 3/8" elastic straps that hold the iPad at the corners. You can use the sleeve portion to hold papers and cables.

Interestingly enough, the side with the straps is on the left; most other folio-style cases have the attachment areas on the right side. Except for external markings, the case can work either way. The two zippers have plastic protectors on the pulls, which is a nice touch.

The neoprene case is a bit slippery to hold and very shiny. The manufacturer claims that it is water resistant. There is plenty of padding too. The workmanship is well done and the seams are straight and even. I received the white case, but it also comes in black.

When I received the case, it came with a strange plastic smell left over from manufacturing. The smell remained for about a week, which is a lot longer than Iíd like.

Price: $39.99

The Good:
Can work as a sleeve or a folio case. Covered zipper pulls.

The Bad:
Very smooth texture, somewhat slippery.
An odd chemical smell.

Rating: 3 stars

NewerTech iFolio

This leather, folio-style case includes four leather and elastic straps to hold the iPad in the case. Three of these corner straps are ľ-inch wide but the fourth is Ĺ-inch wide, as sort of an anchor point. NewerTech designed it to hold the iPad 7/24, and so that you can use the iPad while still in the case.

The iFolio comes with a detachable and adjustable leather inch-wide shoulder strap as well as a handle. A convenient internal pocket is not big enough for 8.5" x 11" papers, but fit half-size papers. The two smaller pockets fit business cards on the left panel. The iPad goes on the right. It has stiff sides to protect the iPad when the case is closed.

The sole nylon YKK zipper does not feel as solid as I would like. It seems to be under some stress when the iPad is in the case, which makes me wonder if the case will hold up to extended use. However, NewerTech offers a lifetime warranty on the iFolio, so if it were to break, they will fix or replace it.

If you are used to carrying around a day-timer, this case will feel natural to you. The iFolio comes in black and red.

Price: $99.00

The Good:
Holds the iPad plus papers or business cards.
Use the iPad without removing it from the case.
Lifetime warranty. Made in the USA.

The Bad:
Larger than most cases.
Somewhat expensive.
Metal loops for strap arenít removable.
Metal, uncovered, zipper pulls.

Rating: 3.5 stars

STM jacket iPad

The simple STM jacket iPad case is very nicely done. The bag has a small handle on the side, just large enough for you to slip your hand into which makes it easy to carry. There is a small 4" wide slip pocket on the front that holds a phone or iPad charger. The pocket has a lip on it, so there is little to no chance that a phone will slip out. A slip-pouch on the back holds half-size papers.. A zippered 81/2" pocket in front that runs the length of the case, holds cables or other thin items.

The solid zippers run from about seven o'clock over the top and down to about two o'clock, at the edge of the handle on the other side. This makes it easy to insert and remove the iPad.

There are two small nylon loops on the top for the removable 1.5" wide adjustable nylon shoulder strap. The strap includes two plastic slip-on clips that remove easily, but secure with metal clips. The case and zippers seem water resistant because of the underneath flap, but not waterproof. The STM jacket iPad comes in black with blue accents and blue interior padding.

Price: $24.99

The Good:
Well made.
Pocket with lip for phone.
Removable strap with clip.

The Bad: None

Rating: 5 stars

Targus Crave Sleeve for iPad

This bag reminds me of a down jacket; the external fabric is quilted nylon, and the bag is quite soft and almost squishy. The internal padding is soft and the iPad seems well protected. The downside is that the padding makes it about twice as wide as other cases; but you can crush it down to store it. The 6 1/2 x 8 1/2 in front zippered pocket is padded on the iPad side, the other side is quilted nylon.

The zippers run from about seven o'clock up over the top and down to the edge, about two o'clock on the other side. This makes it easy to insert and remove the iPad, but it is protected because the top of the case doesnít flop open. The two zippers are protected inside with large flaps, so they seem water resistant. All three zippers have backpack style nylon cords and ends attached to them, making them very easy to pull and no metal to scratch your iPad.

The Crave Sleeve comes with two handles for carrying, which live in two snapped pockets on top when not in use. The pockets keep the handles out of the way, nor can they pop out. The pockets run the length of the bag, so you can store other items in them, but only one snap secures the items inside.

The Targus web site shows this case available only in black, but the sample I received is light grey; listed as silver in their press release.

Price: $34.99

The Good:
Pull cords on the zippers.
Water and stain-resistant case.
Large pocket can hold thick items.
Straps fold away when not in use.

The Bad:
Thicker than most cases.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Targus A7 Neoprene Sleeve

The other case Targus sent me came with a tag with a part number, TSS17805, but there is no mention of this case on the Targus web site. While is included in the press release put out in April, the only mention I could find of the A7 sleeve is on a site in the Netherlands and in Canada.

That is unfortunate, since this is a very nice basic case, with a quilted neoprene exterior, which they trademark as the Tri-Cell Cushion System. The internal padding has a nice texture, and they call it an air-ventilating mesh, but I don't recognize the fabric.

The single zipper runs from about ten o'clock to two o'clock, and there is a tab of what appears to be waterproof material inside just inside the zipper. The bottom and side seams are also sealed and are made of a nylon or plastic material. This entire case appears to be waterproof. I wouldn't dunk it in a pool, but I also wouldn't worry about my iPad if I happened to get caught in the rain.

There are no handles, no shoulder straps, and no external pockets, either. This basic case is perfect for tossing into a briefcase or a backpack where you want a bit of extra protection. The web site mentioned above shows this case only in black, but the case I received is plum (purple). The press release claims the case is also available in blue, brown, and red. Calls to the public relations firm to verify availability were not returned.

Price: $24.99

The Good:
Sealed seams

The Bad:
Only one zipper pull.
Not available on site yet.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Waterfield Ultimate SleeveCase

The Waterfield Ultimate SleeveCase is a much more complicated bag, but very nicely done. It looks like one of their computer sleeves, which Ilene claims has withstood years of use with little sign of wear. The Ultimate SleeveCase has a padded leather bottom to protect the iPad from bumps and small drops. The nylon case body has plenty of padding, including a semi-rigid front to protect the glass front of the iPad. There is a slip pocket in the back, which is almost, but not quite wide enough to hold an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper.

There is a padded flap at the top that folds over and seals with Velcro. The handy small loop at the bottom helps you hold the case when you want to remove your iPad.

This is a build-to-order bag. You can customize the color of the bottom trim, the orientation, add a shoulder strap, or a pouch on the back. The one I reviewed is black with a leather base, vertical orientation, and with a pouch but no strap.

Price: $55 for base model

The Good:
Solidly made.
Well padded.
Made in San Francisco.

The Bad:
Lost half a star because of price.

Rating: 4.5 stars


Depending on how you carry and use your iPad, any of these cases can work for you. If you are used to carrying a Day-Timer, then either the iFolio or the Slick case may work for you. The NewerTech case seems a bit over the top when you compare prices. If you want a well-made, basic carrying case, The STM Jacket is my favorite, with the Waterfield Ultimate SleeveCase and the Targus Crave Sleeve for iPad coming in with close seconds.

6/2/10: Added color red to iFolio and fixed Waterfield link. -- Editor
See review. Cons
See review.