Review: Marware C.E.O. Hybrid iPad 2 Case
Marware's C.E.O. Hybrid iPad 2 Case ($50) is very much in the style of many of this Florida-based designer's previous offerings for a number of Apple devices. A combination of a hard shell and a folio, it is finished in a faux carbon fiber leather. While useful and aesthetically nice, the C.E.O. Hybrid's method of attachment to the iPad 2 leaves a little to be desired.
Both the front flap and rear shell of C.E.O. Hybrid are made of a stiff backing that’s covered in faux carbon fiber material on the outside and soft fabric on the inside. Marware uses an uncommon but not unseen method to hold the iPad 2 in place: around the corners, right edge, and small portions of the top and bottom are curled over edges. These continuations of the back hold the tablet rather securely. It is, however, rather difficult to get the iPad 2 in place because the case does not have much give, and the maneuvering caused screen film to peel up at one corner—something that will bug users who want to protect their screens against smudges and glare.
The design is highly protective of the iPad 2’s front and back, but leaves less of the edges covered than top rival folios. Along the top, the space from the headphone port to the mic is open, leaving both accessible. A section of the curled edge about an inch and a half long interrupts this opening, and on the other side the Sleep/Wake button is uncovered. On the right, the side switch and volume rocker are both fully usable; the rest is covered. The bottom edge is the most unique of the four. Except for a small portion between the Dock Connector and the speaker, the iPad 2’s metal edge is exposed all the way across. Marware chose to leave the bottom row of the speaker grill exposed, and covered the rest in a plastic shield with holes. While this design element is less than ideal, we appreciate that there is more than just a big hole exposing the metal.
Marware uses the same kind of curled edges on the front cover to hold the case shut when the iPad 2 is not in use. Just like on the back shell, they hold the iPad pretty well, and are actually a bit easier to use here. Built in to the cover are magnets that work properly to activate the automatic locking feature of the device, a nice touch. There is also a wide handstrap sewn into the inside of the front cover, something that could come in handy for FaceTime calls. Like most folios, C.E.O. Hybrid can convert to become a landscape orientation stand. Pop the tablet out of the holders on the left corners—a stand conversion technique we’re not hugely fond of—and it can rest in one of two ridges; they’re deep enough that there is no risk of losing the angle. Folding the cover underneath creates a typing angle that is a little higher than normal, but not bad.
While this is otherwise a good folio-style case, C.E.O. Hybrid’s problems are traceable to its curled edge design. The curls don’t cover the iPad 2’s edges as well as we would like, and can potentially affect third party screen films that reduce fingerprints and glare on the iPad 2’s display. That’s a shame, because we otherwise liked the case’s look and feel, and the magnets and handstrap are neat extra features. Other folio options offer superior protection and look a little nicer inside, but C.E.O. Hybrid’s sharp exterior and frills will appeal to some users.