Compatible: iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen)
ZeroChroma Folio for iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen)
If you love ZeroChroma's best-of-breed device stand but want more protection for your iPad than the slightly underprotective Vario-SC, there's a new option: Folio ($70). The case fits Apple's second-, third-, and fourth-generation tablets, combining a semi-rigid TPU plastic rear frame with a front lid. Folio opens to reveal the stand inside the lid; it sits flat when not in use, but is ready to fold out when needed. Right now the case only comes in black, but colors are slated for the near future.
Right off the bat, we had some difficulty inserting our third- and fourth-generation iPads into Folio’s holder. While getting the first three sides in wasn’t hard, the case is tight enough that it took some real effort to wrap the final corner around the edge. Subsequent tries weren’t as bad, although it’s still somewhat more difficult than many other cases we’ve tested. And despite the TPU material’s potential in this regard, ZeroChroma chose to skip button coverage, instead leaving the standard I/O openings, plus a series of holes exposing the speaker. Folio is generally quite a protective case, but it could have been a little better.
The key feature of Folio is the lid, including the stand that’s now inside of it. That hard plastic cover is lined on the outside with a sheet that strongly resembles leather, but is referred to simply as “material.” Inside the lid is a very soft fabric, plus a 5.5” diameter plastic circle for the rotating stand, just a little lower than completely centered. On a positive note, this is the same fantastic stand we’ve seen from ZeroChroma before: when the lid is folded behind the iPad, the stand can click into 11 different positions, and rotate 360°, clicking into place every quarter turn. The feature works just as well as here as it does in the company’s other products, though you need to open the lid all the way up to use it. Also built into the lid are screen locking magnets, which we found to be less reliable than we prefer. Unless they’re in exactly the right position, they don’t always activate the iPad’s wake and sleep mechanism properly.
Folio is very much like Vario-SC, but the built-in lid allows customers to skip the purchase of a separate Smart Cover or film for screen protection. The case is nicely designed, and attractive, with extra value relative to a typical folio due to the excellent stand. The fact that the magnetic locking system falls short is disappointing, though, and the iPad frame could benefit from a little extra fine-tuning as well. With these issues in mind, Folio earns the same general recommendation as its predecessor. This is a nice case, and a good alternative to Vario-SC if you want additional front coverage, but it could have been even better.