Review: Sena Cases Florence Portfolio for iPad (3rd-Gen)
Sena Cases has recently unveiled a handful of new cases for the third-generation iPad, and Florence Portfolio ($120) is certainly one of the standouts in terms of originality and features. Following the aesthetic we've come to expect from Sena over the years -- visibly high-quality genuine leather cases -- this model adds pockets, holders, and a couple of packed-in frills that make a lot of sense for a workplace tool. Although it comes at a premium price, and merits a caveat or two, professional users will likely find good value in this unique package.
The basic setup isn’t anything totally new; the leather holder is a thin folio case with cutouts for the buttons and ports along the back and side, plus good bezel coverage—pretty much identical to that of Magnetic Florence—and there’s a snap closure tab to hold the front cover shut. All of the openings are well-centered, and allow easy access to the controls. Like many of Sena’s cases, this one is made of fine grain flat leather, and is available in black, brown, or red.
It’s not until you open the lid that you find all the extras that make Florence Portfolio special. Resting on top of the iPad is a leather flap lined with microfiber on the underside; it’s much like a page in a book, securely situated between the two covers. You’ll also discover an elastic pen/stylus holder and notepad slot, each populated by Sena with included accessories, as well as a “multi-purpose” pocket for small notes and documents. When considered together with the ID pocket, four credit card slots, and the additional pocket on the inside of the lid, it becomes clear that this case could make a lot of sense in an office or other professional setting—everything you need for a meeting or daily work could be held inside a single folio. Shown in the second of the 10 photos here, Sena’s included stylus has a simple, retractable ballpoint pen inside, with a rubber dome tip at the other; it’s not the most touch-sensitive tip we’ve seen, but it does register taps and swipes with a little extra pressure. The notepad gives you the ability to quickly jot down things on paper for situations where the iPad’s screen and wireless e-mailing/printing capabilities don’t suffice.
To increase the functionality, the middle flap is equipped with auto-locking magnets that work properly to wake and sleep the new iPad’s display. There is a downside to this setup, though, and it’s how cumbersome the stand positions are—they’re created by tucking the front cover under a small flap on the back of the case. Yes, they’re sturdy, but the middle flap isn’t ideally located: it winds up sitting in front of the tablet in video viewing orientation, and dangling behind the screen in typing orientation, both of which are somewhat awkward and require extra space on your desk. The snap closure tab also dangles in front of the screen in both orientations. Sena should really have mitigated or eliminated both of these issues, perhaps by incorporating the flap into the stands, or even offering some way to remove it.
When comparing Florence Portfolio to Sena’s Magnetic Florence, the essential differences are the addition of the flap, pockets, and packed-in accessories for a $40 premium. While this isn’t a trivial amount to pay for the extra features, it’s not crazy, either, since the complete package makes sense as a turnkey solution for a certain market segment. It’s unfortunate that the issues with the stands and flap drag down the appeal—it doesn’t look great in stand positions, and it can make the case difficult to use in a limited amount of space; the tab similarly is an annoyance, though it doesn’t impact usability. Hopefully, a future revised edition will address these issues, but Florence Portfolio is otherwise a good case with some welcome features.