iPad Cases and Sleeves in Review – Part 2

J. Simon Leitner (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 12/20/2010

iShell. After various cases and neoprene covers in the first review, we now look at a range of plastic and silicon shells that enclose the iPad like a second skin and the tablet can almost be used plain.

Not everyone finds thick cases agreeable. Especially since most solutions don't have room to store various supplies. Shell solutions could be the right choice for iPad users who primarily need their tablet at home and don't have to / want to always pack it in or out.

Made either of elastic materials, like silicon or hard plastic they protect the aluminum flipside and edges to an extent when handling the device. As already in the first review, we rate according to style, quality, protection and price.

Cool Bananas TheShell

Link: Manufacturer's information

We'll start with the most relevant solution from Cool Bananas, called "TheShell". It is made of semitransparent thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and is supposed to fuse the rear's protective function with a high claim on design. The single ports and the loudspeaker holes have been cut out. The solution for the buttons is interesting: they are covered by a thin material layer, but can still be used through the plastic. This worked quite well for the on/off button, but controlling the sound volume was a bit difficult.
The cover also has to accept reproach in terms of workmanship. We could partly feel the mold seams distinctly around the case. A better job could have been done here.

When the plastic casing has finally been pulled over the iPad, which wasn't as easy as you may believe in the test because the material is relatively form-stable, the plastic encloses both the flipside as well as the edges with a layer of about one millimeter. Thus, scratches don't stand a chance. They do, however, remain on the case after a period of use and can affect the look quite a bit. The case doesn't bid much protection in case of a drop since the crumple zone around the device is too thin. However, because the case runs snugly around the edges and the front is fixed by an all-round lip, you can put the iPad down on its display side without having to fear that it will scratch. Beyond that, the surface also bids a moderate grip against sliding on smooth surfaces.

We liked the shell's semitransparent design. Our test sample in "black" created a "smokey" look on the iPad's aluminum rear. Nevertheless, the Apple symbol and the iPad logo on the back cover could still be seen well – so, relief among the hardcore Apple fans. Cool Bananas additionally offers "TheShell" in blue, red and a completely transparent alternative. It starts at about 18 euro and there is even Value Pack with two different colors starting at about 25 euro. Our rating:
Style: 4/5; Quality: 2/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 3/5; Price: 5/5 – Total: 3.4/5 points

Artwizz SeaJacket Clip

Link: Manufacturer's information

The next solution in review is supplied by Artwizz and is called "SeaJacket Clip". Polycarbonate is the material of choice here. It stands out with high stability at a low weight. For reasons of haptics and grip, the outer surface has additionally been treated with a rubber silicon finish. Thus, the iPad doesn't slip uncontrollably on smooth surfaces. All buttons and interfaces areas have generously been left open in the "SeaJacket Clip". Thus, there shouldn't be any problems with various docking solutions either. Putting the iPad into this case is easier than it was in "TheShell" from Cool Bananas.
We can also distinctly feel a seam on the sides of this alternative. This also leads to point deduction.

The protective function is basically comparable with the previous solution. The iPad's flipside is protected against scratches and abrasions. In our opinion, protection against smudging is lessened a bit because this case has left out large areas on the sides. Moreover, the "SeaJacket Clip" hardly protrudes over the side edges. Thus, you shouldn't place your tablet on the display side. The drop protection can also be seen as insignificant here.

Artwizz currently only has one color alternative available for the "SeaJacket Clip" – black. It is a solid color and has a matt outer surface. The case's pro is therefore its rather discreet appearance. Even the Artwizz logo on the back is very unobtrusive. The "SeaJacket Clip" costs a bit more than "TheShell" with about 22 euro. Considering all aforementioned points, our rating:
Style: 3/5; Quality: 2/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 3/5; Price: 4/5 – Total: 3/5 points

Artwizz SeaJacket Silicone

Link: Manufacturer's information

The softy among Artwizz's product range is called "SeaJacket Silicone". Every user will have to decide for himself if silicon is "sexy", like Artwizz states on the correlating product site. Fact is silicon likely belongs to one of the most smudge resistant materials that exist. Even test scribbling with a waterproof Edding marker could either be simply rubbed off, or as also described by the manufacturer, washed off with plain water. That the iPad should be taken out of the case beforehand ought to be logical since the silicon skin is only a protection against signs of use, alike the aforementioned alternatives. Slipping the iPad into the cover is imaginably easy because it willingly lets itself be pulled in position.
The distinctly palpable ridge was disagreeable here, too. However, it wasn't as disturbing as in various hard shells because of the soft and pliable material.

We would judge the "SeaJacket Silicone's" protective function as a bit better than the previous two alternatives. The soft material on the edges is about two millimeters thick and can thus absorb slight bumps. We wouldn't risk making a drop test with an inserted functional iPad, though. However, the tablet may be put on a table with the screen side down because the silicon skin protrudes by about 10 millimeters into the display. Positive: The soft silicon cover downright adheres to smooth surfaces and can thus successfully prevent slipping.

As to the design, Artwizz restricts itself to one single color. That is a white, translucent material. Thus, the Apple symbol and logos are also visible on the flipside in this model. Silicon fetishists can satisfy their lust for about 18 euro. Our rating:
Style: 3/5; Quality: 2/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 4/5; Price: 5/5 – Total: 3.4 /5 points

Hama Cover „Stripes“

Link: Manufacturer's information

You can even find according solutions in the tested shell category from the well-known accessory expert, Hama. For example, the protective cover "Stripes" also made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Therefore, this case has all qualities of "TheShell" from Cool Bananas. The flexible, yet form-stable material, snuggles itself around the iPad like a glove and protects it successfully from scratches, smudge and signs of use. However, the slip protection is significantly lower than in comparable silicon alternatives. Like "TheShell", the buttons are covered and can be pressed through the case. The interface openings have been cut out precisely.
In terms of workmanship, we agreeably can't feel any unclean seams on our test sample. Nevertheless, we did find an uneven surface in the vicinity of the SIM card slot. This could possibly have been caused by an inaccuracy in the according injection molding tool.

As already mentioned, the Hama cover "Stripes" bids good protection against signs of use on the aluminum flipside and edges. In the best case, the tablet is moderately protected against bumps on the sides enclosed by the material. Placing the display on a surface is also possible without having to fear scratches. The Hama cover doesn't really bid protection against drops, though.

This alternative can score in design. As the name already indicates, the cover's back has a striped pattern, created by alternating textures of smooth and slightly roughened lines. Moreover, the material is transparent, which leaves the Apple logo on the flipside visible. Alternative colors are pink, black and petrol. The Hama cover "Stripes" is positioned in a price range starting at about 23 euro. Our rating:
Style: 5/5; Quality: 3/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 3/5; Price: 4/5 – Total: 3.6/5 points

Hama Protective Cover Set

Link: Manufacturer's information

Merely the name lets us expect something more than the usual shell – and in fact, there are two parts in the box. One is, as usual, strapped to the iPad's flipside and the other shell half is intended for the display. The lateral claws are released when the marked push symbol in the center is pressed and the display lid can be removed.
Coated polycarbonate is used for the lower shell and a transparent variant is used for the display lid. The shells are both form-stable and hard. In regards to workmanship, once again we can feel a ridge on the base part, but not on the lid. Generally, the solution only makes an average impression despite its well-considered concept.

The case shell's protection is limited to the iPad's back cover. Dirt, scratches and other signs of use are successfully deterred. The iPad is also well protected when the display lid is added, for example for transportation. Nevertheless, you should take care not to apply too much pressure on the display because the lid only proves to have a moderate resistance. It can be pressed down to the display under selective force. However, the twin shell solution provides the most comprehensive protection of all formerly tested shells.

There will likely be split opinions about the design. Let's start with the color. The green alternative we tested can be replaced with a black, white, blue or red look. The window that shows the Apple logo is consistent in all alternatives. But in our opinion, the silver lining comes close to being chintzy. At least, the push button on the front has a functional purpose. This case's price starts at about 26 euro. Our rating:
Style: 2/5; Quality: 3/5; Features: 4/5; Protection: 4/5; Price: 3/5 – Total: 3.2/5 points

Hama Silicon Protective Cover "Button"

Link: Manufacturer's information

Hama also has a fitting solution for silicon fans in its array, called "Button". Nomen est omen applies in this case. The case has a built-in silicon "Home" button, which also serves as an eye-catcher in this alternative. This doesn't provide a functional advantage since the button practically gives no feedback. Like many competitor products, this protective cover cuts out port openings and covers the on/off button, as well as volume control. They work quite well as always, and in our opinion even a bit better than in the TPU covers. The elastic cover can easily be pulled over the iPad, but could fit a bit tighter.
The manufacturing quality didn't impress us. A very palpable ridge around the case and partly unclean cutouts for the port show a somewhat sloppy quality monitoring.

The protective function also is limited to potential scratches and abrasions, as well as dirt or even slight bumps due to the soft, absorbing material on the flipside here. Moreover, the silicon surface successfully prevents the iPad from accidental sliding on smooth surfaces. As in the other tested alternatives, a protection in case of drops doesn't really exist.

Hama's protective cover "button" can again score in design, or rather the possibility of individualization. Amazon currently lists seven colors. Besides the orange alternative in the test, there is red, blue, gray, black, white and green. The covers cost between 20 and 26 euro, depending on the color and dealer. What we like: Hama doesn't place its company logo visibly on the offered covers and, in our opinion, thus acts in compliance with the incisive iPad design. Fans of unobtrusive solutions will appreciate this. Our rating:
Style: 4/5; Quality: 2/5; Features: 3/5; Protection: 3/5; Price: 4/5 – Total: 3.2/5 points

Verdict

The differences of the given solutions are minor. Primarily, personal preferences will likely be decide if you take a hard shell alternative made of polycarbonate or rather take TPU, or a soft silicon cover. Mainly the design and style factor will be decisive – likely the most important reasons for the iPad's success. In our opinion, the Hama cover "Stripes" supplied the most convincing overall package, which combines an adequate protective function with an attractive exterior at a fair price. Consequently, our recommendation in this review.

We were surprised about minor quality problems, such as distinctly palpable ridges along the edges, which almost all test samples showed. It should be possible to do better job in terms of workmanship, at any rate. In regards of this, we find it very interesting that even silicon or plastic shells, which are manufactured automatically in one piece, range in the same price area as the iPad cases examined in the first review. These were sewn and partly had to be equipped with zippers…

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > iPad Cases and Sleeves in Review – Part 2
Author: J. Simon Leitner, 2010-12-20 (Update: 2013-06- 6)