Review: SwitchEasy Cara for iPad 2
As a sequel to one of our 2010 iPad Case of the Year Award winners, SwitchEasy has updated Cara for iPad 2 ($50). Maintaining the same overall design but slimming down to fit the new tablet, the folio-style case features a glossy hexagonal hard plastic front and precision-cut soft back. Apart from last year's version, Cara is truly unique; we have never seen a folio executed quite this way before. Available in white, black, red, or a combination red and white version, this is a case that is certainly worthy of your attention, though the prior-generation design is missing a couple of key features that iPad 2 users are starting to take for granted.
At first, Cara looks a lot like a turtle shell. On the front hard plastic lid of the folio are 14 raised segments, quite sturdy without adding significant bulk. On the right side of the cover is a latch to hold the case shut, which it does very effectively. The rest of the case, which holds and protects the back and sides of the iPad 2, is an elastomer—a soft, texturized rubber material—extending and attached to the back of the lid. It is quite easy to insert and remove the device, and the fit is precise. All of the ports, speakers, switches, buttons, and cameras are aligned properly and fully accessible, with both the Sleep/Wake button and volume buttons maintaining full tactility. Unlike the previous version of Cara for the original iPad which left the speaker fully exposed, the iPad 2 model uses small holes that are mostly aligned to the grill on the tablet.
SwitchEasy includes port covers, two video stands, and screen film to guarantee the protectiveness and appeal of the total package. With the headphone port and Dock Connector covers in place, the only things left exposed are the necessary ones: the microphone on the top of the iPad 2, the rear facing camera, and the side switch. The one major thing that is lacking, and an addition we wish would have come with this new version, is a built in stand mechanism. While the included stands are appreciated, an integrated solution is not uncommon in folio-style cases, and offers greater convenience for the user than having to carry something around. Similarly, the addition of magnets to the iPad 2 has enabled lids such as the iPad Smart Cover to both stay closed more easily, and open with instant unlocking of the iPad 2’s screen. We hope that SwitchEasy is able to improve on this design by incorporating features like this in the future.
Cara lives up to the reputation that SwitchEasy has earned with the rest of its products: it is a smart, generally thoughtful design with thorough protection at a reasonable price. The feel and look are both very nice—nicer than many folios sold at higher prices—and we feel completely secure keeping an iPad 2 in this case. Two things that would bring this case from very good to great would be the aforementioned integration of a stand and magnetic latching system, but in the meantime we still have very positive feelings about this case, especially for the $50 asking price. There’s a lot to really like or love here, and only a little that it leaves out in the process relative to the most recent iPad 2 designs.