Review: Ozaki iCoat Versatile Case for iPad 2
We have never seen a case ship with three interchangeable straps -- not to mention a stylus -- but that is just what Ozaki has included with their iCoat Versatile for iPad 2 ($85). Available in both portrait and landscape orientations and tan, brown, pink, and charcoal colors this folio can best be described as a "kitchen sink" offering, trying to be everything to everyone. Like too many other products of the same ilk though, it ends up being mediocre in almost every regard.
Its best to first evaluate iCoat Versatile as a folio style case. The portrait orientation model is pretty standard, with a reinforced denim exterior that opens to a soft cloth lining. Both materials are pretty high quality. On the inside of the left flap are a series of ridges for standing the iPad 2 in landscape mode, with a tight “hand pocket” underneath to slide your hand in. To the right is a pocket to hold the device; it’s held securely shut with a three inch Velcro tab. The multitouch display of the iPad 2 is fully accessible and most of the top, bottom, and side edges are exposed; this leaves the headphone port, mic, Sleep/Wake switch, side switch, volume rocker, and Dock Connector open, although a little set back because of the curvature of the tablet. A metal mesh covers the speaker on the back of the iPad 2. To complement the included stylus, there is a loop of material to hold it on the right side of the case, immediately next to the screen. A sewn-in rubberized strap keeps the whole thing shut.
The landscape orientation case is built in much the same way. However, instead of a spine along the tall edge of the iPad 2, it is situated at the bottom. That is, when the front flap of iCoat Versatile is open, it hangs obtrusively underneath. While we understand this was most likely chosen so that the tablet can be orientated properly when standing using the ridges, it comes off as awkward. It would have been wise for Ozaki to flip the orientation; we have found the angles for FaceTime to be better when the camera is along the bottom, and as the iPad 2 is fully usable in any alignment, this should not be a concern in the design process.
Both the landscape and portrait models of iCoat Versatile have D-rings on either side of the spine, used for connecting the included straps. Again, there are a total of three: a wrist loop, shoulder strap, and elastic band used to wrap around the back of a car’s headrest. While it works, the wrist loop immediately struck us as impractical; we really cannot imagine anyone carrying their iPad 2 in such a way. The shoulder strap is a bit more sensible, although we do not know many people who would carry a tablet like this either.
Of the three straps the elastic band makes the most sense, especially for those users with young children. With it in place, the iPad 2 can be positioned on the back of a headrest in a car, particularly good for video playback. Thoughtfully, Ozaki fastened a piece of Velcro on the inside of the case’s spine; the tab holding the device in place in its pocket can be repositioned to keep everything from flopping around while driving.
Overall, iCoat Versatile is not a bad looking case, but it does not impress in any major way. While the material build is pretty good, all of the pack-ins and extras seem more like overkill than benefits, and neither of those factors justify the $85 price. One can certainly find a case with the dedicated features that he or she may need at a lower price. Our C rating reflects that iCoat Versatile is not a bad case, but simply expensive for what it is, despite the extras, which are nice but generally unnecessary.