Review: Luardi Genuine Wooden Case for iPad 2
Prior to receiving Luardi's first case for review, we had little knowledge of the company's products, and we were genuinely impressed to see it take on one of the most complex case concepts around: an iPad case made almost entirely from wood. Clearly inspired by Miniot's Cover, Luardi took the idea of a wooden iPad lid to the next level with the Genuine Wooden Case for iPad 2 ($150); instead of just offering screen protection, this is a full folio-style case solution that rings up at a premium price. We really appreciated that the company tried to make it more than just a showpiece, working in some functional features that made the initially sky-high cost seem more palatable. It's available in walnut, ebony, mahogany, padouk, and rosewood, each version packaged with a clear film screen protector. Unfortunately, we experienced some real issues during testing that made the case's overall value questionable at best.
To protect the aluminum and glass iPad, Genuine Wooden Case is made of two connected components. Body protection comes in the form of a wooden slider shell. As is the case with most sliders, this one separates into two pieces along the horizontal axis, roughly two inches up from the bottom, and the shell is lined with soft fabric to prevent the aluminum from being scratched. We’re thankful for that, though the fit was incredibly tight. Unlike rubber, soft plastics, or fabric, wood offers no give, and it’s also more fragile than those materials: a long vertical crack appeared in one of the contoured edges of the bottom portion of one of the two sample cases within a few days, even without subjecting the case to heavy use. The other developed a crack running up the entire length of the side the first time we inserted an iPad 2, and it was so difficult to remove the tablet that we literally had to break the case to free it. Then there are the port and button openings, which were all a bit off-center. While this isn’t fatal to use of the camera or Sleep/Wake button, it proved to be a more serious issue around the headphone port of one of our review units: the hole was cut in a way that blocked every headphone plug we tried from making a connection.
The shell is attached to the lid by a strip of what appears to be faux leather, located a little higher than halfway up the height of the case. While it’s nice that the parts are connected, this design ends up leading to some real issues; specifically, the cover wobbles on its soft hinge, and doesn’t always line up squarely with the edges of the iPad 2. That wouldn’t be a deal breaker in and of itself, but it becomes a problem because of the case’s Smart Cover-style magnet system. Over and over again in our testing, we heard the familiar clicking sound indicating the tablet was being locked, even when the lid wasn’t being opened. One morning, we awoke to find the iPad’s battery completely depleted because even though it had been sitting still on a desk, the cover was crooked enough that it had unlocked the display and left the iPad’s screen on for hours. If you’re going to use this case despite the other risks, you’ll simply have to turn the auto-locking feature off.
Much like Miniot’s Cover, Genuine Wooden Case’s lid is divided into columns, allowing it to curl in on itself to serve as a stand. Though they look very similar to each other, Luardi has used nine segments compared to Miniot’s eleven. Unlike Miniot’s design, Luardi’s magnets don’t hold the cover locked into a stand position, so the only thing that maintains the curled shape is the weight of the iPad 2. This makes holding typing and viewing angles somewhat more difficult than we’d otherwise expect. Done correctly, however, both are rather secure and pretty good for their expected uses.
There’s no question that Luardi’s Genuine Wooden Case looks great: the two wood versions we tested were both quite nice, and are cool alternatives to the common plastics and leather variations we’re used to seeing more frequently. Regrettably, the case just doesn’t work properly by any standard, an issue that’s particularly serious given the high price. If everything from the lid to the body had been perfect, some users would possibly be able to justify the expense; wood isn’t a cheap material to work with, and definitely makes your iPad look very distinctive. But there were just too many issues. From the too-tight back to the cracks to the off-center openings to the faulty front cover, there’s no way we can recommend this case. Serious retooling and reconsideration will be necessary to make it fit properly, remain in good shape during normal use, and avoid accidentally triggering the iPad’s automatic lock/unlock sensor. For the time being, we’d recommend holding off.