Review: X-Doria Campfire and Widge for iPad 2/iPad (3rd-Gen)
X-Doria was quick to release a number of cases following the launch of the new iPad, among them these two interesting takes on combined tablet stands-and-cases. Campfire ($60) and Widge ($50) are both unlike pretty much anything we've seen in the past; although they offer features found in many other cases, the do so in very different ways. Each is compatible with both the iPad 2 and the third-generation iPad.
Of the pair, Campfire is arguably stranger. The case portion is a straightforward hard plastic shell with long openings along the top and bottom edges, something we’ve seen plenty of times before, with all of the inputs and outputs on the edges exposed in addition to the camera, side switch, and volume rocker. Solidly attached to the back, however, is a beanbag ring in ten segments with a drawstring running the circumference, which serves two purposes.
The first is a comfortable and highly positionable way to prop up the iPad, especially when it’s used being used on a lap; it actually works a lot better than we expected. The consistency is just firm enough to maintain its shape, but not hard at all. Secondly, the beanbag can be wrapped around the edges of the shell and pulled taught to protect all of the tablet’s body and most of the display. X-Doria calls it a “custom sleeping bag”. We don’t quite get the purpose, but it does do what it claims.
Widge, on the other hand, is made of foam-rubber material that feels very much like Speck’s iGuy, and is aimed at the same demographic: kids. The shape, however, is totally different. Instead of a body-like configuration, this one wraps around like a skin, with a large wedge attached to the backside. It takes a bit of pulling at the sides and maneuvering around to squeeze the iPad in place. Once it’s in there though, it stays; the foam covers the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons without reducing their tactility, and there are appropriately-sized holes for the headphone port, microphone, side switch, and Dock Connector port. For reasons that we assume have to do with the intersection of the wedge and flat back, the openings for the camera hole and speaker aren’t quite right; the former is much longer than we normally see, while the latter blocks about a third of the speaker grate. Thankfully it doesn’t impact the sound output in any discernible way.
The wedge rises up to about three inches at the peak, enabling good landscape typing and viewing angles, although there’s no support for standing your iPad up in portrait orientation. A small bulge prevents the long surface of the wedge from sitting flat, resulting in noticeable rocking from side to side when typing. It’s not terrible, but for a case with such limited and specific functionality, we were surprised to see such a defect. The only other feature is a handle molded into the back for easy carrying.
Rating Campire and Widge is a difficult task. There’s not a lot to compare either to; they really stand out on their own. We were surprised by how much we liked the beanbag setup of Campfire. It really seems like the right way to do a lap stand. Of course the fact that it’s permanently attached limits just where it can practically be used, making it a niche product. As for the “sleeping bag” mode, it doesn’t detract from the appeal but we don’t find it to add much value. Overall though, we like it, and find it to be a nice option worthy of a limited recommendation. Couch-based iPad users will likely enjoy it—working in a way to remove the beanbag would broaden the appeal. Widge, on the other hand, earns the same ranking but for different reasons. We have little doubt that it’s a smart way to hand an iPad to a child, but we’d endorse iGuy over it. Widge just doesn’t have the same fun factor, and costs more too. It does, however, stand better, which could be important depending on how it’s being used.