Incase Magazine Jacket for iPad 2
While Apple's Smart Cover for iPad 2 has received the most attention, Incase was actually the first major case manufacturer to pair an iPad with a segmented, articulating front cover, a feature it introduced in late 2010 with the original Convertible Magazine Jacket. To accommodate the newly slimmed iPad 2, the company has updated this design with the renamed Magazine Jacket for iPad 2 ($50). Almost identical to its predecessor, the new model carries on with a slimmer design and similar functionality, but with an open top and bottom that subject the tablet to more risk than we would otherwise prefer.
Made of rubberized plastic, the folio-styled Magazine Jacket has a sturdy shell on the right side to hold the iPad 2. The tablet snaps into four corner clips and stays securely in place; the installation was very easy compared to some other hard plastic shells. While the precision cut holes for the rear camera, side switch, and volume rocker are perfectly centered and allow for full device use, Incase chose to leave the top and bottom edges considerably exposed. This allows for easy access to all of the buttons and ports, but it leaves too much of the iPad 2 unprotected relative to plastic iPad 2 folio designs already released by Speck and SwitchEasy. We’d call overly exposed metal surfaces a shortcut that certain manufacturers have taken in the early days of the iPad 2’s case development cycle, and it’s a trend we’d like to see nipped in the bud. Surprisingly, the iPad 2’s speaker is half-covered with plastic that has three cut outs in the shape of the original iPad’s speaker grilles, an odd design choice. An elastic band attached to the back of the case can fold around to hold it shut when not in use.
What originally set Convertible Magazine Jacket apart and is still an appreciated feature is the front lid. Composed of a thinner hard plastic than the body, the flap is segmented into three columns. By folding them in upon themselves and bringing the far edges together, a triangle is formed that can be used as a stand in both typing and video viewing positions. There is no mechanism inside the lid to hold it in the triangle shape; the typing angle is held in place by the weight of the iPad 2, and two ridges on the back serve as supports for the viewing angles. The farther ridge actually supports a more unfurled and not immediately obvious origami-like positioning of the lid for an additional viewing angle, but works just as well. Magazine Jacket’s ridges are somewhat awkward, and we wish that Incase had found some other way, such as magnets, to hold the shape of the stand. That being said, the system does work exactly as advertised, though not as efficiently as the iPad Smart Cover, or Speck’s PixelSkin HD Wrap.
Absence of a locking mechanism aside, the folding cover is clearly a smart design, and one that will be used by a number of other companies going forward. That having been said, in light of Apple’s and Speck’s iterations on the segmented flap, Incase’s original implementation is at this point only pretty good, rather than great. The addition of magnets would provide security, allow for the removal of the elastic strap, and also support the automatic screen lock feature on the iPad 2. Similarly, while we like the build of the back shell quite a bit, Incase should take the next step to make it perfect by extending the coverage to the top and bottom edges with precision holes for the ports and buttons. In its current state, Magazine Jacket earns our B rating. Future improvements could easily warrant a high recommendation, and Incase is to be commended for its prior pioneering work in segmented screen flap/stand design, which has clearly benefitted a number of other case makers, as well.