Review: Pad & Quill Author Series for iPad Air

Pad & Quill tries its hand at a customizable luxury case for the Air. (February 13th, 2014)

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Product Manufacturer: Pad & Quill

Price: $79.99

The Good

  • - Stylish, customizable design
    - Solid protection
    - Lightweight

The Bad

  • - No stand mode
    - Elastic blocks sleep/wake button when in use
    - Case dependent on elastic to stay shut

Shortly after the original iPad launched in 2010, one of the first cases on the scene was the DODOcase -- a luxury folio made using bamboo and traditional bookbinding techniques. That product set the stage for an influx of imitators, some better, some worse. One of the companies that joined the crowd was Pad & Quill, perhaps best known for its Contega series. Now, though, it has a new, slightly cheaper Author Series case available for the iPad Air. We'll put it through the ringer to see how well it holds up.

On a functional level, the Author is pretty simple. It opens up like a book, and your iPad inserts into a bamboo tray, where four rubber corner pieces keep it secured. The exterior of the case both looks and feels like a large hardcover notebook, the main giveaway being the presence of cutouts for the rear camera and microphone. The "pages" of the book -- really, the tray -- have cutouts for the Lightning and headphone jacks, as well as all buttons and switches. In the case of a 4G iPad, you'll have to pull your tablet out of the case to change SIM cards.

While functionally simple, the Author is extremely well-built. One simple touch is the presence of the Pad & Quill "bookmark" that makes removing an iPad easier. More importantly the bookbinding is well-done, and the bamboo is sturdy and finely carved, even incorporating a plastic button insert to make triggering sleep/wake easier. As should be de facto on any modern folio, opening and closing the lid also triggers an iPad's lock state. An elastic band holds the case shut when it's not in use.

The real selling point, though, is customization. On the P&Q website shoppers can pick from an assortment of different colors and patterns for the Author's cover, spine, interior, and elastic. Monogramming costs $15; for $5, you can add a pocket to the inside flap, although the review unit we got came without this feature.

The Author may be a great choice then if you're looking to impress, so long you have some style sense of your own. It also feels like solid protection -- it may not be as rugged as an Otterbox Defender, say, but I would trust it to protect my iPad against short drops or being stuffed in a travel bag. This is particularly nice considering how light the case is.

Where it falters slightly is in some of P&Q's design choices. The most glaring problem is the lack of a stand mode -- effectively there are only two ways of using the case, which are either wide open or folded back. That makes it impractical for extended typing or video viewing, unless you can find a separate stand or tolerate holding an iPad for hours at a time. Some of this review was written on my iPad, and I ultimately failed to find a comfortable angle for the Author on my lap.

The elastic band is fine for the most part, but it does have some minor issues. One is that it tends to cover the power button when it's place, something that probably could've been fixed without much effort. More fundamentally, I would've rather had locking magnets or some form of clasp instead. Elastic can snap, and if the built-in material breaks (however unlikely), you may end up needing rubber bands to keep the case shut.

Overall the Author is a solid choice, but only if you fit within a narrow window. This case is not for anyone who wants to get any serious work done, and certainly not for anyone who's budget-conscious. There are cheaper cases that are just as practical, if not moreso; alternately, for the $80 the Author costs, you can get an extremely rugged milspec case you can take camping. If you have plenty of money to spend and you mostly intend to do reading and web browsing though, the Author is one way of doing it in style.

by Roger Fingas


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