Review: Booq Booqpad for iPad 2
From two different companies come two different iPad 2 cases. Each is made to hold not only Apple's tablet computer, but also a pad of paper and a pen, and work ambidextrously to boot, making them smart solutions for designers, artists, and those who just like taking physical notes. Yet even though they are based off the same concepts, Booq's Booqpad ($50-$100) and Elago's Note Leather Cover ($90) are very different cases. The former is a rather affordable and practical solution made out of lower cost materials -- at least in its base model -- while the latter makes less sense design-wise but does look quite nice.
Booqpad is certainly the better option of the two. Available in four different colors of faux leather and a more expensive coffee-colored Nappa leather version, it looks like a standard folio style case from the outside. It has two rather plain halves and a tab with a snap at the end to hold them shut. On the inside is a frame to hold the iPad 2 in place. A long, wide flap along the inner edge ensures that the tablet will not come out unintentionally. There are rather large openings along all four edges, which leave all of the ports and buttons exposed, as well as the four corners. This is because unlike most other cases, Booqpad is agnostic as to which direction the tablet has to be inserted; it fits exactly the same whether the case is positioned with the holder on the left or the right. One downside to this design is that there aren’t cutouts on either side for the rear camera.
Lining the inside of the opposite cover are five slots, one each on the top, bottom, and one of the sides, and two on the other. The openings on the sides are for holding small things like tickets, credit cards, and the like. Those along the top and bottom are made to accommodate the included pad of note paper, the cardboard backing of which is supposed to be tucked into whichever slot is at the top. We appreciate the fact that Booq includes the paper—they also sell three packs of refuels for $10—but the glue holding together the pad that came with our review unit didn’t hold for very long at all. It is a small problem, and one should have no problem using his or her own mini legal pad if they so choose. On the inside of the spine—between the two halves of the case—are two more openings to accommodate a pen or pencil, and do so with no problem. It is important to note that unlike many folio style cases, Booqpad can’t be used as a stand for either typing or viewing.
Although it tries to accomplish most of the same things, Note Leather Cover is not nearly as successful. From the outside, however, it does look nice. Rather than faux leather, Elago uses the real thing in both brown and dark brown. The contrast stitching that runs the along the edges and the spine is a nice touch. Instead of something built into the case to hold it shut, there is a removable elastic band included. We found irony in the “DESIGN IS IMPROVEMENT” message on its metal clasp, as we see this style of enclosure to be one of the least practical.
Inside, the case looks similar to Booqpad, but only to a degree. Half is lined with a soft suede-like material. Along the tall edge of that portion is one inch pocket of leather. It is there to hold either of the edges of the iPad 2—it is the only thing there to secure the tablet or protect any of its edges. Again, Elago chose to use its “DESIGN IS IMPROVEMENT” phrase in a decidedly poorly designed place. The iPad 2 slips out of the holder pretty easily, especially when held in landscape orientation.
The other half of Note Leather Cover’s interior is what most resembles Booqpad. It is covered in the same leather from the front, with slots at the top and bottom edges for a small pad of paper—not included. Again, this case is made to be used by both right- and left-handed people, so the individual can choose which side is up and which is down. The far edge has a leather loop for holding a writing instrument. Also like Booq’s case, there is no hole for the rear camera and Note Leather Cover does not have stand capabilities.
By far, the better option between the cases is the faux leather Booqpad. The design is much better, and the price more reasonable. For almost half the cost of Note Leather Cover, the iPad 2 is significantly more protected and there is no risk of it accidentally falling out. Even more importantly, Booqpad is a good case on its own merits. It looks nice and is practical, especially for people who find paper notes important. The fact that it cannot be used as a stand and there are no camera holes do somewhat hurt the overall design though. Ultimately, we offer a general recommendation and a B rating for the Booqpad. Note Leather cover, on the other hand, has the same downsides as Booqpad, and then some. The poor implementation of a holder for the tablet and the use of a removable elastic band are further strikes against it. For a much higher price than Booqpad, it doesn’t even include a pad of paper. It earns a C-. We advise that you stay away from this one.