Review: Vaja Libretto for iPad mini
Having partnered with Case-Mate last summer, Argentinian luxury case maker Vaja has continued to develop new versions of its classic cases for Apple's latest devices. Libretto for iPad mini ($180-$200) actually starts at a $20 premium over the larger, earlier full-sized iPad version, and goes up in price if you prefer customized color combinations. On the other hand, this model is actually improved over past iterations; in fact, it's one of the better designed cases we've seen from the company in years.
The basic shape of this Libretto is quite similar to what we’ve seen before: a folio-style case with extremely high-quality leather wrapped around flat panels. Your iPad mini snaps into curled edges which fit properly and hold it securely, a major plus. Unfortunately, Vaja continues to leave the iPad’s top and bottom edges completely exposed inside the corners, which would be disappointing for a case half as expensive as this one, and strikes us as unjustifiable in a $180+ design.
Thankfully, Vaja made major changes to the case’s back. Instead of using a large opening to expose the corner, buttons, side switch and camera, Libretto offers more protection. The leather now runs all the way to the corner, with separate openings for the iSight camera and the I/O on the side. We also liked that the camera hole is the same droplet shape seen in Vaja’s logo, a neat design touch. Perhaps best of all, the company also added a magnetic flap to the lid that not only holds the case shut, but also covers the side switch and volume buttons; this works very well, and looks great, besides.
As most folios do, Libretto transforms into a stand that can be used in viewing or typing positions. The lid simply has to be tucked into a tab on the back of the case, which is not the ideal solution, but it works well enough. One additional advantage to the tab holding the lid shut: it prevents the auto locking feature from accidentally being triggered.
As always, the leather Vaja uses is the best stuff around—the supple material feels great and exudes quality. And this time, the company has actually produced a case good enough that we’d consider using it with our own iPad minis. The problem is really in the pricing. Even in its most basic version, Libretto sells for more than half the price of the base model iPad mini, and there’s no good reason that an iPad mini case should cost more than the larger model for the full-sized iPad. We give Vaja credit for the improved design, which goes further than its predecessor towards justifying a premium price, but there shouldn’t be any design omissions or compromises in a case this expensive. Libretto for iPad mini merits a limited recommendation: if you have the money to spend on it, you’ll be substantially rather than completely impressed, but only a small fraction of users will find this folio worthy of such a high price.