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iPad Cases Part II

July 25th, 2010
MacNN looks at four more iPad cases

In the second installment of MacNN's iPad cases review series, we are taking a look at slim and folio style cases. These cases aim to protect the iPad without adding unnecessary bulk. Each case featured in this review targets a different type of user, but all aim to maintain the thin profile of the iPad. This installment in our iPad case review series takes a look at the M-Edge Executive Jacket, Marware Eco-Vue for iPad, Griffin Elan Sleeve for iPad, and Aligata Nippon. Click here to see the first part of the iPad case series featuring basic travel cases.

M-Edge Executive Jacket for Apple iPad

Product Manufacturer: M-Edge

Price: Synthetic $49.99 US or Genuine $59.99 US

The M-Edge Executive Jacket is one of few folio style cases on the market that does not intrude on the iPad's design. With a choice of synthetic or genuine leather, this case targets a broad spectrum of buyers from students to business people.

The iPad is held in place at each corner by a leather band. The top two bands are stitched onto elastic straps, which allows for easy removal of the iPad from the case. Despite my general skepticism of products that utilize elastic straps such as these, they have held up for several weeks of testing with no noticeable loss of tension. The four point system that holds the iPad in place leaves the tablet's edges relatively unprotected, but this approach is far more aesthetically pleasing than the solutions utilized by many other folios.

The unit we received for this review is genuine leather.

The leather utilized by the Executive Jacket presents a nice balance between a coarse grain and a smooth finish. The material is unmistakably leather, but feels durable due to its finish. In order to prevent scratching the glass or aluminum of the iPad, the interior of the case is lined with an extremely soft, light-grey material. This material is easy to clean and seems to be quite durable.

The case features a secure closing strap, which can be flipped around when the case is open to prop it up for landscape viewing. Though the case can also provide a slight incline for typing, the strap doesn't stay stiff enough for long-term use in this fashion.

The Executive jacket also provides a hand strap for a more comfortable reading experience. The hand strap is well positioned and is lined with the same fabric found inside the case so that it remains comfortable during longer reading sessions. Other features include interior spine elastic bands and three inside pockets. The main pocket is large enough to hold a letter size page folded in half, while the other two are much too small for anything larger than a business card.

Though this case is very well crafted, the top right leather tab makes it hard to toggle the volume or orientation lock. I have also noticed that the interior pockets have loosened over time, which may potentially result in papers falling out. While it compromises on some functionality and protection, the M-Edge Executive Jacket is a great case that puts the iPad front and centre during use while adding little bulk.

MacNN Rating:

The Good

Slim design.
Doesn't intrude on the iPad's aesthetics.
High quality materials.
Comfortable hand strap.

The Bad

Limited protection beyond screen and back covers.
Use of elastic may be prone to failure over time.

Interferes with volume and screen-lock controls.

Marware Eco-Vue for iPad

Product Manufacturer: Marware

Price: $54.99 US

In terms of the cases featured in this review, the Marware Eco-Vue for iPad is in many ways the opposite of the Executive Jacket. This case is by far the most functional, but completely obscures the appearance of the iPad. To many users this would not be a big deal because it enhances the usability of the the device in many ways.

The Marware Eco-Vue features the best typing stand and hand strap we've seen yet.

The Eco-Vue name references the case's use of eco-leather; that is, leather with fewer toxins and full RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) compliance. The eco-leather looks good, but it is noticeably thinner than leather utilized on other cases in this review. This makes the case feel less durable. When stored next to objects like books in a backpack, the leather shows impressions from those items for a couple of hours. Even the case's own closing strap leaves a clear impression on the front.

The strap that holds the case closed is yet another black elastic strap, like those used in the M-Edge case. Though this seems to be holding up very well after several weeks, I could see the closing strap loosen over a year of use. Like the M-Edge Executive Jacket, Marware also opted for a soft grey interior material. The material seems durable and soft enough not to damage the iPad, but it is not authentically pleasing directly to the edge of the screen.

While I don't think it looks as nice as other folios as it surrounds the iPad in the same manner as the Apple iPad case, others would prefer the added security. The Marware Eco-Vue protects most of the iPad's exterior while not obscuring any controls or ports. The top of the case is open so the iPad can be slid in or out of the case with ease. The iPad is held in place at the top by a tab that works surprisingly well.

This case features the best typing stand I've seen on any case we've reviewed at MacNN to this point. It is very sturdy and there is absolutely no movement even when typing at high speeds. The typing stability is enhanced by the elastic closing strap, which can be used to keep the iPad from tipping forward. When not in use, the typing stand collapses into the case's front inside cover where it is held in place by a magnet.

The Eco-Vue for iPad also includes a very nice hand strap, which is also anchored to the inside cover of the case. The main portion of the hand strap is made from the same soft interior material. It has large elastic straps on both sides of the strap that seem very durable. The Eco-Vue's hand strap has a slight lead over the M-Edge Executive jacket due to its superior placement and comfort.

I believe the Marware Eco-Vue for iPad is the best iPad case in terms of pure functionality. If you want to do a lot of typing, this case is the way to go. The Eco-Vue is not the best looking case we've seen, but it is not bad looking by any means. Though it entirely obscures the look of the iPad, it provides good protection. We'd recommend this case to anyone looking to do content creation on their iPad.

MacNN Rating:

The Good

Adds little to the size of the iPad.
Best typing stand and hand strap I've seen.
Offers good protection.
Does not interfere with using the iPad's controls or ports.

The Bad

Totally obscures iPad design.
Use of elastic may be prone to failure.
Leather durability is questionable.

Griffin Elan Sleeve for iPad

Product Manufacturer: Griffin Technology

Price: $49.99 US

The Griffin Elan Sleeve for iPad is a simple and elegant way to keep your iPad safe when traveling from point A to point B. The sleeve is exactly that, a leather slipcover that protects the exterior of the iPad. This type of case keeps your iPad in good condition when its not being used, while allowing you to use the device as Apple designed it.

The sleeve has a distinct look and features high quality materials.

The Elan Sleeve is constructed with a thick synthetic leather than has a very nice texture. The synthetic exterior seems very durable and has not been marked or otherwise damaged during the testing period for this review. Though it is synthetic leather, the material looks practically the same as genuine leather. Some would see the use of a synthetic material as a negative, but the durability of this product would suffer significantly if genuine leather was used instead.

The interior of the sleeve is a grey micro suede that will not mark or scratch the iPad. The sleeve is secured at the top by a tab that prevents the iPad from accidentally sliding out when secured through its loop. The tab also serves to help remove the iPad. For easy removal, the tab can be pulled upwards, pulling the iPad out of the case about an inch and a half.

For users who don't need a typing stand or a hand strap and simply wish to use their iPad without obscuring its design, the Elan Sleeve for iPad is a great choice. It protects the iPad during travel and is durable enough itself that it doesn't look tattered after time in this role. The case does everything it is designed to do very well. The Griffin Elan Sleeve is sturdy, elegant, and the perfect solution for someone looking to protect their iPad on the go.

MacNN Rating:

The Good

Very durable material.
Does everything it claims.
Useful tab design.
Seems to offer decent protection from day-to-day bumps.

The Bad

Some may dislike synthetic material.
Top of iPad is relatively exposed.

Aligata Nippon

Product Manufacturer: Aligata

Price: $79.90 US

This brand name might be less familiar to case buyers than the first three brands featured in this review, but this case is likely to grab the attention of many readers. The Aligata Nippon for iPad is a very basic folio-style case. It has a basic design and only a few features, but a lot of character.

This is the Nippon case color, but Aligata also offers black, tan, and dark brown variants.

The Aligata Nippon is not perfect, nor is it designed to be. The case is handmade with genuine bovine leather. Due to its natural grain, the Nippon variant of Aligata's iPad case may display imperfections, including creases and scars. This case also does not perfectly fit the iPad due to the nature of the leather and hand-crafting process. Though these flaws may be deal breakers for some buyers, this case has an unmistakable character.

Despite its low-tech nature, the Aligata iPad case offers the best protection of any other case in this installment of the iPad review series. The case utilizes a rubberized sticker in the middle of its iPad compartment to keep the iPad in place. This design also provides the added benefit of diminishing the shock of a fall. The Nippon case also protects the iPad from scratches during travel as very little of the exterior is exposed.

The review sample I received has perfectly aligned holes for access to iPad controls and ports. The design allows easy access to the home button, and also features a hole at the top for the iPad's light sensor. While there are flaws, including a misaligned screen opening that makes the case look a bit distorted, the case has an unmistakable quality. It is very soft to the touch, but extremely tough. Its natural quality makes this a unique entrant into the field of iPad cases.

I would not say this is a case for everyone, but it is certainly a case worth looking at if you can overcome imperfection. Beyond a few leather imperfections, I also noticed the rubber iPad mount can slip slightly off the two-sided sticker that holds it to the leather. It is also worth mentioning that while the iPad is held in place by the rubber mount; there is no fastener over the interior edge of the iPad compartment where the device slides in and out. Though I have not had the iPad slip out unintentionally, this could be a problem in extremely violent falls.

In summary, this case has its flaws and issues, but is different from any other case on the market that I've seen. It is simple and elegant. Since the Aligata Nippon iPad case is so different from other cases, even other folio cases, it's hard to assign a rating to it. Overall, it's a very solid product that I would recommend to anyone looking for a unique, simple, and sturdy case that has a natural quality.

MacNN Rating:

The Good

Tough, natural leather.
Unique case with tons of character.
All-around solid protection.
Well-priced given material quality.

The Bad

Imperfections are a reality with this case.
Rubber mount can slip off sticker.
Can feel compelled to protect the case as much as the iPad it's protecting.

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