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iPad Cases and Sleeves in Review – Part 1

J. Simon Leitner, 12/14/2010

iPackaging. Looking for a Christmas present for an iPad user? A chic case can't only protect the sacred piece from the rough world. It also presents an opportunity for individualization. Leather, textile, neoprene, available in a vast range of colors, adds style and protection to the trendy tablet.

Just in time for Christmas, we'll present a selection of current cases, covers and sleeves for Apple's iPad in this review series. The 10 inch tablet looks very robust with its unibody aluminum case and glass display, but signs of wear and tear can't be prevented anyway. A matching outfit could protect the iPad from the most horrible things, e.g. against smudge, scratches, abrasions, and even drops to an extent.

The first part of this series deals with the category cases and covers that envelops the tablet during transportation. The device has to be completely taken out of the case for use. The rating is based on the following points: Style, quality, features, protection and price.

Targus A7 Sleeve

Link: Manufacturer's information

The Targus A7 sleeve has a neoprene-like exterior and a visibly good cushioning. Targus speaks of a "Tri-Cell Cushion System" in this relation. It allegedly protects against scratches and shocks. Beyond that, it even is supposed bid a certain amount of water resistance. Both side parts aren't sewn together, but are connected by a leather-like transition piece. It makes an overall high-end impression in terms of workmanship. All seams are cleanly stitched. Even the installed zipper runs pleasantly smooth and closes well against moisture. The all over black surface only repels water moderately, and has a large tendency for collecting dust and dirt particles.

The side's lavish cushioning is sewn as triangles inside and has a mesh-like surface. The padded corners are supposed to especially protect the iPad edges. It however has quite a lot of elbowroom inside and can therefore slip past the buffer area. Overall, the A7 sleeve bids the iPad good protection against scratching and smudging, as well as sufficient deformable zones on the sides. However, it only offers little protection against selective pressure or the feared fall on an iPad corner.

In terms of design, the A7 sleeve tries to score in plain black with diagonal stitching. There aren't any alternative colors. In regards to price, the sleeve is very attractively positioned starting at about 15 euro. Due to the good workmanship, the moderate protection and the plain design, our rating is as follows:
Style: 2/5; Quality: 4/5; Features: 2/5; Protection: 2/5; Price: 5/5 – Total: 3/5 points

Targus Crave Slipcase

Link: Manufacturer's information

Targus presents the, so to say, "ski outfit" for the iPad with its Crave Slipcase. The nylon-like surface with thick cushioning and stitching reminds us, like it or not, of the aforementioned winter garments. Targus speaks of a water resistant textile with abrasion-resistant, stain-protective, double foam-padded interior lining.
The Crave Slipcase also can evade all criticism in terms of workmanship. The sewn in zippers couldn't be as easily moved as it was the case in the A7. The Crave Slipcase has two handles stowed in separate compartments, which quickly turn the protective apparel into a handbag. The integrated supply pocket would supply room for the iPad's power adapter. In this case, special care should be taken when stored in the backpack.

Due to the soft padding, shocks are cushioned well on the surfaces. However, the Crave Slipcase hardly offers any protection against selective pressure. Thus, it's recommendable not to store hard objects in the supply pocket since they could press on the iPad. Nevertheless, the case bids good protection against scratches and dirt, as well as moisture. Water drops and liquids practically roll off the surface without residue. The zipper around the entire case has to be rated positively. It allows an especially easy stowing, respectively taking out of the iPad.

The Targus Crave Slipcase is also only available in black. There are horizontal and vertical ornamental stitches on the exterior to loosen up the looks a bit. This case can also be found for a bit over 15 euro, in terms of price. Our concluding rating for the Crave Slipcase is as follows:
Style: 2/5; Quality: 4/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 2/5; Price: 5/5 – Total: 3.2/5 points

Targus Hughes Leather Portfolio Slipcase

Link: Manufacturer's information

The Hughes Leather Portfolio Slipcase takes a slightly more extravagant, or rather dignified path. An unmistakable odor of leather is dispensed after unpacking. However, the case surface is a bit strange. Targus speaks of durable, oil tanned leather. This ultimately explains the unusual feel, which can be soonest described as soft-sticky. This impression lessens after a few day of use, though.
Alike the Crave Slipcase, the Leather Portfolio has horizontal and vertical ornamental stitches. The closing latch has an implemented magnet that is supposed to keep the latch closed. The effect is only very slight though and it was hardly noticed in the test. There is a compartment for a name tag or business card under the lid. This indicates the business alignment of Hughes Slipcase. The interior is lined with a nylon material.

The combination of a leather exterior, foam padding and nylon lining provides good protection against shocks and also even a bit against pressure. Beyond that, the given drop protection has to be mentioned. Because the sides of comparatively stable form have been sewn together, even an impact on the usually very problematic edges can be absorbed well. The leather surface's tanning is just as impressive in the test. Liquids roll off almost without a trace.

The Hughes Leather Portfolio Slipcase wants to especially score in design with its apparent leather characteristics. Alternative colors aren't available. The surface's haptics are uninviting in the beginning, but improves with time and use. The case's elegance has to be paid for accordingly. The Slipcase is listed starting at 40 euro online. All this results in the following rating:
Style: 4/5; Quality: 4/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 4/5; Price: 2/5 – Total: 3.4/5 points

Cool Bananas RainSuit P2

Link: Manufacturer's information

The Cool Banana RainSuit P2 belongs to the squad of neoprene sleeves. The elastic neoprene cover allegedly bids protection against scratches, light shocks and dirt. Beyond that, it's also supposed to be water resistant. As a special highlight, the sleeve has a lip inside that should protect the iPad against damage caused by the zipper. The mainly black cover shows good workmanship, but also offers hold for ugly dust and dirt particles. There is a separate accessories pocket on the front. Alike its predecessors, it is rather suitable for small and basically soft objects, like headphones or short cables (USB extensions). The supply pocket's zipper proved to be a bit stiffer than the one from the main compartment.

There is no lining inside the case. The iPad is enveloped directly by neoprene. The iPad can be fixed with the lip sewn in with the zipper and thus is also protected against accidental slipping out and scratches that could be caused by the zipper.
The comparatively thin neoprene cover basically only bids a small amount of protection against shocks, pressure and damages due to drops, as well as dust and dirt particles. It also reliably closes out liquids to an extent.

A black neoprene case creates the color basis. It is pepped up by a gray, blue or green zipper, stitching and insides, depending on the selected color option. You can also find completely dyed models online. Very striking: The Cool Bananas logo on the outside. The Rainsuit P2 sleeve costs about 20 euro and thus slightly more than the comparable A7 sleeve. Our rating:
Style: 3/5; Quality: 4/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 2/5; Price: 5/5 – Total: 3.4/5 points

Cool Bananas BulletProof

Link: Manufacturer's information

Cool Bananas offers a "hard shell case" among iPad cases with the BulletProof Slim. According to the manufacturer, it's supposed to even give protection against stronger shocks, whereby the so-called "memory foam" has a special meaning. The durable nylon surface is also supposed to be resistant against scratches and dirt.
In fact, we are facing the up till now most robust solution. Two twist resistant shells are connected by a three-sided, all-around zipper, which also allows you to flip it open completely. Inside we find a velvety lining. One side of the lid has a Velcro strap for securing the iPad. The other has a mesh for storing flat objects, such as a few 148x210mm sheets. Inside, the mystery of the used foam material also becomes evident. When slightly stronger selective pressure is applied, a cavity is created that remains. This is likely the notorious "memory effect".

Even stronger selective pressure from the outside is absorbed by both shells and is distributed over the entire surface. This grants an excellent protection against damage caused by force. The strapped tablet's tight fit and rigid corner protection can also prevent damages to the iPad's corners caused by drops. Dirt is also kept out of the case thoroughly. Merely the surface material's water resistance doesn't look as good.

There are alternatives in red and green (completely dyed), aside from our black test sample. The shells' price starts at about 22 euro. Now to our rating for the Cool Bananas BulletProof Slim case:
Style: 3/5; Quality: 4/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 5/5; Preis: 5/5 – Total: 3/5 points

Dicota PadCover Studio Series

Link: Manufacturer's information

Dicota's storage solution "PadCover" doesn't stay quite in line. Thus, the textile surface doesn't care much about protection against dirt or moisture, and the closure – or better said "ejection" – has been solved in an interesting manner. The black and white patterned dress, made of a wool/acryl blend, rather reminds of a scratchy pullover in terms of haptics. The pad cover's inside is lined with a blue nylon material. On the back, you'll find a loop that pushes the iPad out, respectively in, when it's pulled. It was a bit unwieldy in the beginning, but it placed the iPad relatively tight in the case. After several ins and outs, the mechanism worked quite well.

In terms of workmanship, Dicota's padCover scores very good. The material surface also effectively hides smaller dirt and dust particles. However, it is susceptible for liquids because they aren't resisted, and could leave stains under certain circumstances. We rate the protection against shocks and pressure rather low. Additionally, the iPad isn't strapped in the case and could crash on the upper side without any protection, or even be hurled out of the case.

Alternately to our option in black/blue, the PadCover is also available, gender-fitting, in a gray/pink outfit. At a price of about 20 euro, the PadCover is on par with the listed alternatives above. In view of the unusual concept, our rating is as follows:
Style: 5/5; Quality: 4/5; Features: 4/5; Protection: 1/5; Price: 5/5 – Total: 3.8/5 points

Artwizz Neo Pouch

Link: Manufacturer's information

The last representative in the category for cases is the Neo Pouch by Artwizz. It wants to provide protection against scratches, vibrations and shock with woven nylon. Alike a few predecessors, the Neo Pouch has a patched accessories pocket on its exterior. Only small items, like the iPad's USB cable or headphones, have room in the perforated leather pocket. The case makes an overall high-end impression. The metal closure with magnetic effect additionally provides a secure hold of the tablet inside.

The Artwizz Neo Pouch also only accepts our iPad with resistance at first. But this also improves after a certain amount of use. The cover bids moderate protection against selective pressure and an excellent corner protection on the seamed bottom areas. This unfortunately isn't the case on the flap, thus excluding any possible shock protection. Moreover, the case's surface shows itself from its thirsty side. Splashed water is really soaked up.

Aside from the "dark blue/even somewhat darker blue" alternative, Artwizz also has a beige/dark beige alternative. The Artwizz costs about 17 euro, so a bit less than the predecessors, and placed in the midfield of low priced cases. Our rating is as follows:
Style: 2/5; Quality: 4/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 3/5; Price: 5/5 – Total: 3.4/5 points

Verdict

By and large, we were pleasantly surprised about the generally good manufacturing quality of all cases. Even the low priced alternatives hardly differ from the somewhat more expensive options in this respect. As mentioned in the beginning, the cases and sleeves above are covers for transportation, which envelop the iPad completely. If you want to work with the iPad, it has to be taken out of the case. Alternate options would be shells that only protect the back cover, or folding cases that only disclose the touchscreen when required. Both case categories will follow in a detailed review.

In our opinion, two favorites can be extracted from the above tested cases, which present themselves absolutely contrasting in rating. The Cool Banana BulletProof, with the highest rating, impressed us most. This case bids maximum protection with very good workmanship at an attractive price. Additionally, individualization is possible due to various color options. That's reason enough for a total score of "very recommendable".

The second place is rewarded to Dicota's PadCover that takes a completely different path. The case, styled like a mobile phone sock, stands out clearly from the broad mass in terms of design. Beyond that, it scores with an innovative ejection solution. The PadCover is designed rather more as a lifestyle accessory than for circumferential protection. This has to be taken over by the oversized handbag, which should originate from a renowned designer if possible. The iPad, including the Dicota PadCover will likely be found in such a bag. For concept and design, we reward it with a total score of "recommendable".

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > iPad Cases and Sleeves in Review – Part 1
Author: J. Simon Leitner, 2010-12-14 (Update: 2013-06- 6)