Snugg's recent folio tries to be everything to everyone. (July 30th, 2012)
Product Manufacturer: Snugg
- Attractive bicast leather
- Extremely sturdy stand modes
- Handle, stylus loop add extra functionality
- Offers reasonable protection without adding bulk
- Stylus loop blocks microphone port
- Doesn't wrap around edges completely
- Lid lining exposed to debris in stand modes
One thing I've discovered in reviewing iPad accessories is that it's impossible to please everyone. Some people are happy with a portable Bluetooth speaker, others won't even bother with music unless they have a high-quality stereo. Likewise, some people want minimalist cases, while a few want their iPads to be nigh-on indestructible. Snugg's awkwardly-named Distressed Brown Leather Case pulls in still another direction, trying to handle just about any everyday scenario you might come across. We'll see how well it manages in our review.
The DBLC, as we'll call it, relies on PU leather, better known as bicast leather. That means that while it does incorporate real leather, it employs a layer of polyurethane to make it easier to clean, not to mention more resistant to the kind of damage pure leather can develop. Here that strikes a good balance; the material is attractive and soft in the hand without needing any oil to touch it up. It won't develop any "character" with age, but that's probably irrelevant given the average lifespan of Apple devices.
In terms of overall design DBLC is a straightforward folio. Your iPad slips into a frame, where it's held in place by a flap that tucks underneath one side. A nice touch however is that unlike many folios, the flap is lined with velcro, helping to keep an iPad firmly (or yes, snugly) in place. The insides of the frame and lid are lined with a soft microfiber material, which should prevent most forms scuffing or scratching. I say "most," since the DBLC has a problem many iPad cases share -- when it's in any of its stand modes, at least part of the lid's lining is in contact with whatever the case is resting on. If you're not careful, you can pick up grains of debris that might rub up against the screen when you close the lid again.
In spite of this, the stand modes are arguably the best aspect of the case. A slot on the back, for instance, keeps the lid secure for both the typing and display modes. But more than anything else, the DBLC has the single sturdiest display mode I've encountered so far. At work my iPad sits propped up next to my mouse, and the DBLC is one of the few cases I've tested that I felt wouldn't tip over if I tapped the screen too hard. Even the SwitchEasy Canvas, one of my go-to cases, can lose its footing if I position it at a specific angle. The DBLC's advantage stems from where the lid creases, since it creates a wider base.
Another appreciated addition is a handle strap tucked into the lid. When you've got the lid bent back, the handle lets you hold onto an iPad much more comfortably over an extended period of time. I didn't use it too often myself, but I know that a handle can be invaluable in some workplace settings.
Something I did end up using constantly was the case's stylus loop. Thanks to the popularity of apps like Paper and Notability, a stylus is quickly becoming an essential accessory, but most cases don't give you anywhere to slip one. The loop on the DBLC should fit any regular pen-sized stylus. A potentially major issue for some people however is that the loop sits directly over the microphone port, and blocks it with or without a stylus in place. If you use your iPad to record audio, or make frequent calls through Skype or FaceTime, this is not the case for you. Snugg could've solved this issue fairly easily by moving the loop to the right-hand edge of the case instead.
The only other glaring problem with the product, I think, is that it takes a shortcut used by so many folios and only wraps arounds the edges where it's absolutely necessary to hold an iPad in. That might save Snugg some money, but it also exposes more of an iPad to potential damage. To be fair, the corners and edges of the DBLC do jut out far enough that they should absorb the first impact from any bump or drop. The case is also reasonably thick without being bulky, so it's not just superficial protection.
As a whole, in fact, I ended up liking the case much more than I initally anticipated. Despite being relatively inexpensive, it manages to be both attractive and practical. I would stay clear if recording or voice calls are important to you, or if you need a truly rugged case, but for everyone else I can give the DBLC a solid thumbs-up.