Review: iSkin Aura2 for iPad 2/iPad (3rd-Gen)
With the release of the third-generation iPad, case manufacturers had to decide between coming out with completely new cases, or reissuing models that they had previously introduced for the similarly-shaped iPad 2; some chose to do both. Today we're looking at a number of options that are rereleases of cases we've previously reviewed. Some are almost identical to their predecessors, while others have undergone changes but maintain the same name. These are all folio-style cases, with either a reinforced shell or frame structure to hold the tablet in place, and a front lid that offers protection and stand functionality. This review is focused on iSkin's Aura2 ($100), designed for the new iPad as well as the iPad 2; see our First Look of the model for the original iPad here for in-depth details.
Despite the differences between the body of the first iPad and the more current generations, Aura2 looks much like Aura inside and out. It’s still made of a combination of a colored, brushed metallic fabric with contrasting nylon materials, while the inside is lined with microfiber and a circular-patterned faux leather. The frame that holds the iPad in place isn’t as protective as many we’ve seen—it leaves all four corners exposed—and it slightly obscures access to the volume and Sleep/Wake buttons. Magnets in the lid hold the case shut, and although the early review unit we received did not properly lock and unlock the third-generation iPad, the issue has since been resolved. The only other notable differences from the original are the addition of a grated opening for the speaker and camera holes on the frame and the back of the case. It’s packaged with dry and moist screen cleaning cloths.
iSkin took a different approach than most companies with its stand functionality. Aura2 supports both viewing and typing angles, though you need to separate the frame from the back of the case by undoing snaps that hold it in place. There are three ridges along the inside cover, including one along the edge of the three business card slots, that allow for different viewing positions. The typing stand is actually a standalone component located underneath the frame. It folds out when needed, and the company suggests letting the front cover rest against the raised edge of the iPad for privacy and to block glare; it looks and feels rather silly to us though. Many folio-style cases we’ve reviewed for the iPad offer typing and video viewing features without the added effort required by Aura2.
Aura 2 is a uniquely designed case, with the sort of different materials and approach to protection that we’d expect from iSkin. Some of its components feel a bit dated, however, including the snaps that hold the frame against the body and the physically separate typing stand; the functionality is there, but not as ideally implemented as in Smart Cover-alike designs. Last but not least is the $100 price point, which is at least $40 more than what comparable folios go for, and the single biggest issue with the case given its numerous rivals. If you’re a fan of Aura2’s design, we wouldn’t tell you to skip it, but apart from the way it looks outside, you’ll find many other similar alternatives for less.