Review: Belkin Cinema Dot, Leather + Stripe Folio with Stand for iPad (3rd-Gen)
Previewed just ahead of the release of the new iPad, Belkin's new Cinema Dot Folio ($50), Cinema Leather Folio, ($60) and Cinema Stripe Folio ($50) are pretty familiar-looking updates to the myriad folio-style iPad 2 cases we've previously covered, distinguishing themselves somewhat with magnetic tab closures and slightly sportier looks. Cinema Dot Folio includes both flat and perforated versions of a neoprene-like fabric, while Cinema Stripe Folio is made from faux leather with a contrasting stripe running through its front lid. As the name would indicate, Cinema Leather Folio is indeed cowhide with a combination of textured and flat materials. All three come in a variety of color combinations, each with unusual names that don't make the shades particularly evident.
The folio-style cases all have the same unique X-shaped rubber iPad/iPad 2-accommodating frame inside, consequently leaving the top, right side, and bottom of your tablet largely exposed. They open to let you adjust the landscape-orientation device on a variety of different viewing angles that stay in place surprisingly well thanks to ridges on the front cover. A tab on the back can be used for an additional landscape position or typing stand, while a two-inch-wide magnetic flap holds the whole thing shut.
We received Cinema Leather Folio a few weeks after the other two models, which both exhibited non-functional auto-locking magnets in the front cover. Belkin proactively informed us that it was aware of the magnet issue—one that has impacted many companies, we’ve found—and only a small number of affected units made it into customers hands; it also promised to replace them without hassle. By comparison, the magnets in the leather case do work properly to wake and sleep the new iPad, although they’re not without their own issues. Even with the magnetic latch holding the lid shut, the top edge of the front cover can pull away under the wrong circumstances, accidentally unlocking the tablet. It’s not as potentially troublesome as similar problems with other cases because it generally falls back into place, but if the lid’s held in the wrong position for a while, you might lose some battery power. Interestingly, Belkin is selling “no magnet” versions of Cinema Leather Folio at a $5 discount, presumably to clear its inventory.
Without belaboring the point, there’s nothing terribly exciting about these three cases; they’re pretty forgettable given some of the more impressive cases we’ve seen from Belkin. At first we thought it might be nice to see a new take on the typical iPad-holding frame, but we were disappointed that so much of the tablet’s edges are left uncovered in the X design; while it was likely made this way to increase compatibility with the new iPad’s then-uncertain body shape, Belkin could really stand to improve this part of each Cinema Folio. Similarly, the materials and external folio designs are simply fine, rather than good or great. While we’re glad that the company got the magnets to a point where they work, improved reinforcement for the lid would resolve the issue. If the functionality was superior—a more protective frame and a more secure lid—we’d feel comfortable offering a limited recommendation, but as it is we simply cannot. The Cinema Folio cases are all just okay.