A signature case returns for the iPad Air. (November 25th, 2013)
Product Manufacturer: Targus
- - Well-crafted, padded exterior - Three excellent stand modes - Stylus loop
- - Edges secured only by small anchor points - Tablet must be dislodged in order to use stand modes - Using stylus loop imbalances stand modes - No locking or sleep/wake magnets
The very first Targus iPad Air case we had a chance to look at -- the Versavu Keyboard Case -- didn't exactly get a stirling reception. I disliked it so much, in fact, that I immediately pulled it off once the hands-on was finished. Thankfully, Targus' new Vuscape folio case seems a little more competent -- at least at first glance. We'll see if it surpasses that level in our review.
Unlike the Versavu, the Vuscape is a basic folio, without a keyboard or any other party tricks. It just covers the front and the back, and lets owners prop up an iPad horizontally for tasks like typing or watching video. The case makes a decent first impression, nevertheless; it sports a padded exterior, quality stitching, and a felt inner lining. The front is especially thick, leaving no doubt that an iPad's screen will be safe when the case is shut.
An immediate stumbling point however is the way in which an iPad is held in place. There are just a few anchor points on the corners and sides, which not only expose most of the device's edges, but leave the whole tablet feeling insecure when the case is open. In testing I often found myself casually (albeit needlessly) adjusting the corners to be sure my iPad wouldn't fly out if I suddenly turned the case upside-down. Worse still, you actually have to remove two of the anchors to put the case in stand mode. That's not uncommon, but seems arbitrary when cases like the SwitchEasy Canvas have found a better solution.
The stand mode works remarkably well otherwise. Deep grooves are embedded into the Vuscape's lid, giving users two very stable viewing positions. The lid's latch serves as support for a third, even sturdier position, geared towards typing. While typing on a Bluetooth keyboard will always be preferable, a rock solid angle does plenty to enhance the onscreen typing experience.
Speaking of that latch, it's a little stiff at first, which makes opening and closing the case somewhat awkward. More importantly, though, its presence is necessary because of the absence of locking magnets. There aren't even any auto-sleep/wake magnets, which is ridiculous given that Targus has had three previous generations of iPad in which to make magnets standard.
One final oddity is the included stylus loop. I'm normally a fan of any case that has one, but here it's situated near the edge of the front cover -- sticking a stylus in forces the Vuscape to lay uneven when it's in stand mode, potentially unbalancing it. In practice, though, styluses didn't seem to create any serious problems. I was more bothered by the trouble I had slipping in a Wacom Bamboo Stylus Duo -- a shorter loop would've helped. You can forget about clipping in thicker styluses such as the FiftyThree Pencil, the Studio Neat Cosmonaut, or even the Adonit Jot.
For all it's faults though, I've found myself surprisingly attached to the Vuscape. There are superior options out there, but its build quality and fantastic stand modes mean that I would gladly put up with it if it were my only option, or if it were given to me as a gift. If Targus listens to feedback, its future cases might be amazing.