Review: Griffin CinemaSeat for iPad Air
With each new body shape — first for the original iPad, then the second-, third-, and fourth-generation model, and most recently, iPad mini, Griffin has released a version of its car mounting solution. Now, there’s CinemaSeat for iPad Air ($40), which is more of the same design in a different size. Essentially unchanged since the first edition, the faux leather and neoprene holder continues to be an OK solution at the wrong price.
Coming only in black this time, CinemaSeat attaches to the metal poles of a head rest with with a foldable, adjustable Velcro strap. The right side of the case has one long opening running all the way down; this is where the bare iPad Air is inserted and should be oriented towards the top so the tablet doesn’t fall out. There are openings for the Sleep/Wake switch, microphones — one long one that exposes both — and headphone port along the top edge, although not one for the rear-facing camera. Considering how this accessory is made to be used, that shouldn’t really be a problem, although it does limit use as a case. One large hole on the bottom provides access to the Lightning port and speakers. Almost all of the front bezel is covered, right up to the edge of the glass touchscreen. There are recesses in the top and bottom edges of the material for the front camera and the Home Button. A small pocket on the back is the right size for small accessories such as a stylus or earbuds.
While it could be carried as case outside of a vehicle, the overall design doesn’t lend itself very well to that use. Most users won’t be willing to put up with the bulk and and wide unprotected areas. The blockage of the rear camera is also a problem. Rather, it will be a better solution for those who are willing to leave it in the car and slip the iPad Air in and out for trips. This will be most convenient for those who don’t use a case on their tablet, or simply use Apple’s iPad Air Smart Cover, but as the primary beneficiaries of a mounting solution like this are kids, parents will need to decide whether they want unprotected iPad Airs transitioning in and out of these temporary holders.
Despite ratings of C+ and C over the years, Griffin has yet to offer any real update to CinemaSeat; the product must be doing well enough for the company that it sees no real need to change anything. Unfortunately, it’s still a disappointing solution, and the latest version of CinemaSeat once again earns a C+. We do hope one day to see Griffin release a proper case mounting kit for the car that doesn’t require such sacrifices in usability and aesthetics.