Review: Incase Leather Portfolio for iPad 2
Incase's Leather Portfolio ($130) may have one of the more generic names among the company's lineup -- and iPad 2 cases in general -- but at least the title explains what it is. What isn't so clear is why Incase opted to venture into such generic case territory: from the outside, Leather Portfolio looks like a pretty standard folio design that's been done dozens of times before, but it's what's inside that really makes us question this one.
As the name states, Leather Portfolio is composed of cowhide, and you have your choice of either glossy black leather or soft, suede-like brownish-grey—we reviewed the latter version. While the material is high quality, it doesn’t feel premium or fancy enough to justify the price. After just a few days of use and travel, scuffs and scratches began to appear on the material, which does not bode well for extended use. A zipper runs along the bottom, left, and top edges; when the case is closed, the padding under the leather brings the case to just about an inch thick.
Unlike most folio-style cases that have a pocket or frame for the tablet with cutouts around the edges, Incase decided to go with a simple clip-in mechanism designed to grab the iPad 2 right in the middle. This leaves all of the ports and buttons exposed, but as with many of the flat-backed cases we’ve seen, they’re more difficult to use than in a case with a properly contoured back. We found the volume buttons to be particularly tough to get at, especially for users with thick fingers. The clip is hinged along that same edge, and the left side is held down with a circle of Velcro. Pulling it up allows you to use the case’s stand features. On the inside of the opposite cover, there are two horizontal document pockets, and you can also slide papers in the opening running down the vertical edge.
The most perplexing part of Leather Portfolio is the Smart Cover-like flap inside; it’s strange for a number of reasons. To start, it seems odd that there is a protective cover inside of a protective case; usually you get one or the other, not both. Secondly, the lid doesn’t have any magnets. Not only does it not lock and unlock the iPad 2, it doesn’t even stay flat against the tablet when the case is tilted. What it does offer is the ability to transform the case into a typing stand: the three-segment cover folds into a triangle and props the tablet up for a working angle. Otherwise, a ridge along the far edge of the left half of the case holds the iPad 2 for video viewing. This isn’t the most elegant mounting solution we’ve seen, and not immediately intuitive, but it does work.
Incase is generally pretty efficient in its designs, so Leather Portfolio is a surprising case: while it’s not bad and does offer reasonably good looks, protection, and functionality, each of those characteristics comes with certain caveats. The protection isn’t particularly well implemented, the stand functionality seems like it’s the result of a few different ideas thrown together with little thought, and the looks come at a high cost. None of the attributes make the case worth it, and it therefore earns a C rating—you can easily do better for fewer dollars, even with similar materials, protection, and features.