Review: Camalen Vision for iPad (3rd-Gen)
Folios have become the most common style of iPad case over the past two years, and depending on what you're looking for, one of the dozens of new designs might be an ideal fit for your tablet. A folio places your iPad inside of a fabric, leather, or plastic enclosure that looks like a folder, generally opening to reveal a holder for the iPad on one side, and screen-covering lid with a stand or stand support on the other. Today, we're separately rounding up three different categories of folios for the third-generation iPad -- updates to past iPad 2 models we've covered, "new" options that are highly similar to ones we've covered before, and then truly new models that are distinctive in at least a couple of ways. This review is part of the "new but highly similar" case roundup, looking at Camalen's Vision ($139).
Vision offers something of a spin on the normal folio-style case. Advertised specifically for the third-generation iPad, it looks a lot like many of the leather cases we’ve covered, and is lined with a soft material on the inside that looks and feels like suede, just as the outside appears to be genuine leather—Camalen only makes indirect references to the materials, describing the outside as coming in “rustic,” “floater,” and “croco” versions, all with “beautiful hand stitched quality.” The case is in fact quite handsome inside and out, down to an interesting tapering around the rear camera hole and a nice combination of materials at almost every point in the design. Only a seriously oversized and oddly off-orientation Camalen logo on the front lid detracts from the otherwise very nice looks.
Camalen’s folio design is in most regards par for the course, with inadequate attention to the usability of the iPad’s side and top buttons. The flat back rises a little too high, making the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons somewhat harder to press, and the bezel coverage is just a bit off center, as well. Three leather stripes on the inside of the cover allow the case to be used in as many stand positions, while magnets hold the lid shut. As has been true with a number of early new iPad cases, the unit we received for review wasn’t updated to support the polarity change necessary to lock and unlock the third-generation tablet, an issue that some manufacturers have had to fix post-facto. We haven’t heard anything from Camalen as to whether and how this is being addressed, but we suspect that it will be.
There were two somewhat odd items included with the case: the first is a suede-like carrying bag with a drawstring, likely intended to make Vision suitable for bricks-and-mortar presentation, and the second is an elastic strap with metal lobster claw clasps on each side. It turns out that this elastic strap is supposed to wrap around a car’s headrest, holding the iPad in place for rear-seat video viewing while its lid hangs downwards. While the strap won’t be an ideal way of positioning the iPad in many cars, as the screen will likely tilt downwards or upwards rather than pointing straight at the viewer, it’s a novel feature and worked well enough in our test vehicle that we’d consider it an asset. Still, a material better than elastic would have been appropriate for a high-end case such as this.
The big issue with Vision is the staggeringly high price: as nice as the leather may be here, Camalen’s charging a premium of $40 over comparably fancy folios from companies such as Sena, and the little luxurious touches that may rarely justify such an expenditure aren’t present in this case. With fixes to the button access, the rear strap material, and the sleep-wake mechanism, this could be a good option at a lower price point; for the time being, it’s just an okay value overall.