Review: ModulR Case + Hand Strap, Head Rest Strap, Shoulder Strap Pro, and Slim Wall Mount for iPad 2
We'll give ModulR credit for addressing two of the biggest criticisms of its case and modular mounting system for the first-generation iPad: last time, the company built an elaborate iPad desktop stand, wall mounting, and carrying system around a case that was a bit clunky and -- thanks to a huge, unappealing circular cut-out for the Apple logo -- underwhelmingly protective. For the iPad 2, ModulR has released Slim Case ($40, aka Case + Hand Strap), a redesigned and Smart Cover-compatible hard plastic rear shell with an included detachable hand strap. Like the original case, Slim Case has been designed to work with a number of separately sold accessories, including Slim Wall Mount ($20), Head Rest Strap ($20, aka Car Headrest Strap), and Shoulder Strap Pro ($20). Slim Case is available in black, white, or clear versions, and all previously released ModulR accessories are still compatible.
With only one big exception, Slim Case’s shell is pretty nice, and comparable to the better models we have seen. The back coverage is good, and though there is still an unappealing cutout on the back for the Apple logo, ModulR this time includes an insert to fill it. Turning it into a branding opportunity, ModulR also offers $10 CafePress-based customization of the insert with your choice of graphics or logos—an appreciated improvement, and a nice way to customize the otherwise neutral shell.
The case’s plastic runs all the way to the top and bottom edges, with nicely sized and centered openings for the headphone port, microphone, Sleep/Wake button, camera, and Dock Connector port. We also liked the protective plastic grating over the speaker. On the left is a long opening for Apple’s Smart Cover; a small gap remains between the spine and the edge of the case, but this is not a big deal. The problem is with the opposite side: for whatever reason, the Smart Cover opening is mirrored, leaving almost the entire right edge exposed. We don’t know why ModulR would choose to do this, particularly given that virtually no other shell for the iPad 2 has done so, and it definitely takes away from what would otherwise be a very good shell. It’s also worth noting that it was incredibly difficult to remove Slim Case from the iPad 2 the first time we tried to do so, but subsequent attempts were much easier.
Small mushroom-shaped knobs are found towards each of the four corners of the shell. These are used for attaching the accessories, each of which click into place. The knobs are big enough to be secure, but not too large to be overly obtrusive. Included with Slim Case is the accessory called Hand Strap, a nylon strap strung through webbing with plastic clips at either end. Velcro allows the user to adjust its length, accommodating both orientations as well as different sized hands. We definitely prefer ModulR’s edge-mounted take to the fixed and/or centered hand straps we’ve tested, and found it to be quite comfortable.
Slim Wall Mount is a simple plastic bar that allows the iPad 2 to be mounted in both orientations. The design is really nice; in fact, it’s so minimalist that it mightn’t at first be obvious how to use it in landscape orientation. It has two scoops, used to attach Slim Case’s pegs in portrait orientation. For horizontal use, the edges actually have bisected versions of those scoops, and the fit is still secure. Slim Wall Mount can be attached to a surface with either screws or a 3M adhesive strip, both of which are included. A plastic cover fits over the center of the beam to hide the screws.
Head Rest Strap and Shoulder Strap Pro do exactly what their names suggest. The first is a simple way of attaching the tablet to a car seat’s headrest. It is a nylon strap with two plastic bars that slide up and down, holding the iPad 2 in place. Once installed, the strap loops through and attaches to itself with Velcro; it works well. Shoulder Strap Pro takes Hand Strap and adds a longer band. We can’t imagine many people carrying their iPads that way, but it works in either orientation. Unfortunately, it comes with what looks like a knockoff of the Just Mobile AluPen stylus, albeit thinner and a little longer, which is being offered in limited quantities—we suspect not for very long.
ModulR certainly turned things around with this iteration of its system. Slim Case would be one of the best shells we’ve seen if it weren’t for the odd cutout on the right side, which drops it down to “good” range in our ratings; further improvements to the base shell would only make this system that much better. All of the attachable accessories are well designed, and the price of each piece is pretty close to right. As a complete system, ModulR rates a B and general recommendation. We’re happy to see the company get closer to greatness, and hope the next version reaches that goal.