Review: Cooler Master Afrino + Bizet Folios for iPad 2/iPad (3rd-Gen)
Company: Cooler Master
Price: $50 each
Compatible: iPad 2, iPad (3rd-Gen)
Having recently introduced an iPad-slash-MacBook Pro stand, Cooler Master has now debuted a series of new synthetic wool felt cases for the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad. The family is known as the Elegance Collection, and we selected two models called Afrino Folio ($50) and Bizet Folio ($50) for review. Both designs place a soft black rubber iPad frame between layers of felt, the back side of which can roll up to form a stand.
The two cases are similar in many ways. Each uses the same protective rubber holder with cutouts for ports and coverage for the Sleep/Wake button—a reasonable design that we’ve seen done better in other cases. Tug at any of the four edges, even lightly, and they’ll pull away from the tablet. They’re sewn to their respective backings, both of which are made of thick faux wool; two layers of tan wool on the outside, and one layer of grey wool inside. Each has faux leather accents, including reinforced handles and buttons.
The real difference between the two designs is the shape of the frames. Bizet is akin to a folio, with a flap that folds about halfway over the cover and holds shut with a snap and a string. It resembles an office envelope with open sides. Afrino simply folds in half and has handles at the top like a briefcase or purse, all held together with one rather weak and small magnet. Like Bizet, Afrino has open sides, although there’s a long shallow pocket inside that Bizet does not have. Notably, because both cases have the aforementioned rubber iPad holders, their open sides do not impact the tablet’s production.
Bizet and Afrino share one other feature: the ability to transform into stands. With either, you can roll up the flap opposite the iPad and position the case so that it’s in a typing or viewing mode. Both positions on both case work surprisingly well, considering the unconventional method; they’re sturdy and offer good screen angles. To get a deeper or shallower angle, you simply roll the felt tighter or more loosely.
While neither of these cases would be our first choice in their respective genres, they’re pretty good options for users who value distinctive-looking and -feeling cases. The iPad is well-protected by the rubber, and the felt only adds to that coverage. Neither blocks the use of the tablet significantly, although Afrino’s handles make the case a little unwieldy when it’s folded open. Because of this issue, Afrino earns our limited recommendation. Bizet is worthy of a slightly higher B rating, a general recommendation. Cooler Master deserves some credit for thinking outside the box here and producing pretty good cases as a result.