Review: Portenzo WingTip BookCase for iPad 2
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, DODOcase should feel quite flattered indeed. Portenzo's WingTip BookCase for iPad 2 ($75+), one of several similar options the company offers, is clearly inspired by the high profile case with a bound book-style design that's almost identical at first glance. Reading through the company's FAQ, frequent references to "the other guys" and "they" indicate that Portenzo is very well aware of the likeness. That's not to say there aren't some differences, but many aren't evident without close inspection, and most are only available as paid upgrades.
Each WingTip is handmade in the United States to customers’ specifications. From the outside, the case looks just like a large hardcover book, measuring about eight by ten inches, and a little more than three-quarter inches thick. Glossy library buckram—a stiff cloth used in bookmaking—is stretched over the hard frame. This model’s name comes from the fact that one can customize not only the main color of the case, but that of the spine and corners as well. That personalization is free, while others cost extra. The case comes standard with an elastic strap to keep it shut, but adding or subbing in a magnetic-grip cover costs $10, as do each a stylus compartment and a stylus itself. Embossing is available for $15, a stand feature Portenzo calls IntelliStand can be added for $20, and a rear camera hole is $5. That’s right, the case doesn’t have an opening for the camera by default; it costs extra.
Open the case and you’ll see a hand-sanded maple wood frame, perfectly sized to hold the iPad 2. The tablet easily pops into place, with rubber corners holding it securely. WingTip improves on DODOcase’s design with much more edge coverage, although it actually takes it too far. Instead of leaving the top and bottom fully exposed, Portenzo covers them almost completely. The only openings are those for the Dock Connect port, the headphone port, and the side switch and volume rocker. This is the first iPad case of the hundreds we’ve seen to cover the Sleep/Wake button. It seems that Portenzo is relying on the magnets in the cover to wake and lock the tablet, and hoping that customers will be content without manual control. It’s also worth noting that since there aren’t openings for either, the wood is shaped to funnel the audio from the speaker out towards the front, and channel audio into the top microphone, as well.
In terms of stand functionality, WingTip offers a few different options. The standard model allows users to simply fold the front cover behind, either laying it down for a rather flat typing angle, or standing it up for a less than sturdy viewing position. Upgrading to IntelliStand gives users an experience similar to many of the folios on the market today. The left side of the frame, discreetly held on by magnets, lifts off and rests on the inside of the front cover where more magnets hold in in place. We like how well the feature is executed.
In our review of DODOcase, we applauded the company for its craftsmanship and design, and we must at least commend Portenzo for the former. The design, on the other hand, lacks originality for the most part, as nice as it is. WingTip does improve on some of the faults we saw in that earlier case—mostly at a cost—but has its own problems. We still find the idea of a closed off camera hole by default to be a problem, not to mention the total lack of access to the Sleep/Wake button. There are many possible configurations of WingTip BookCase, but taken as a whole, the solution warrants the same C+ rating as DODOcase. If you’re willing to pay more, you can get more, but for a similar price you end up with a very similar case.