iSkin Vu for iPad 2
If you didn't already realize that Canadian case developer iSkin was matching to the beat of its own drum rather than just duplicating other companies' efforts, its new Vu for iPad 2 ($60) demonstrates conclusively how its creative process works differently from rivals. The case evolves iSkin's earlier hybrid of colored soft glossy plastic and hard textured plastic with a flip-out video stand, offering a lot of protection and some really nice functionality.
The first thing that we noticed after having installed Vu is just how much of the iPad 2 it protects—at least when the stand isn’t being used. Except for the white bezel elements along the top, left, and right, as well as the touchscreen itself, almost everything is covered. Most of the back is composed of hard, textured plastic, while the edges are rubber, wrapping around to form a raised lip on the front; only the microphone and rear camera are fully exposed.
Unlike most rubber or plastic iPad cases, Vu includes flip-open protectors for the headphone port, side switch, and Dock Connector port, while the Sleep/Wake button and volume rocker are both covered in rubber. It does take a bit more pressure to activate them, but not much. Additionally, the speaker is partially covered by a series of horizontal rubber strips that allow audio through while still offering protection. The bottom portion of the iPad 2’s bezel is almost completely shielded with a straight strip of rubber, including the Home button under a small depression. Only a packed-in screen protector would be necessary to complete the otherwise impressive coverage.
As good as all of those little design features are, the star feature of the case is undoubtedly the built-in stand. U-shaped, it folds out from the plastic back and extends just a hint past a 90° angle. Rubber feet on either side of the Dock Connector port cover keep the case from sliding when it is placed on a surface in portrait orientation. Combined with a slight tension in the hinges, this allows for a range of angles from a little over 45° to almost a straight up and down position. When extended all the way, the stand can also be used to hold the iPad 2 up in one landscape orientation. It works, and it works well. A sorta-drawback is that when the stand is being used, it leaves that much of the tablet’s back exposed, but unless you’re worried about the iPad 2 getting splashed by liquids, that’s not going to be a problem.
Unfortunately, the Vu we received did have a legitimate issue. The two rubber feet on the bottom stand came off almost immediately in our testing, indicating an overly light adhesive. They reattached easily but continued to fall off when pulled at even slightly, an issue that doesn’t bode well for their long-term resilience. iSkin claims that this issue is being addressed, but we’ve seen reports of customers receiving units with the same problem—clearly, some people will be dealing with it, and later customers will not.
We really like Vu—this is a practical, functional, and highly protective case. However, it’s also pretty expensive: at $40, with feet that stay on like they are supposed to, it would have been worthy of a high recommendation. However, in its current state, at its current price, and without included screen protection, the case merits a flat B rating. It’s certainly worthy of consideration, but we’d hold out for the updated version before jumping in.
Updated July, 2011: iSkin has let us know that it has updated Vu. The company now fuses the feet to the bottom, so they shouldn’t peel off.