STM Studio for iPad mini
STM's latest iPad mini case, Studio ($40), provides a pretty cool spin on the traditional shell and lid folio-style design. The core concepts are the same, but it has a more substantial cover that helps solve latching problems we sometimes see. STM's website lists a separate version for iPad mini with Retina display, which we expect will have an additional opening for the second microphone. Note that the testing for this review was done using a first-generation iPad mini.
Your tablet snaps into Studio’s hard plastic shell, which isn’t as thin as something like SwitchEasy’s Cover Buddy, but isn’t too thick either. Buttons and ports are left exposed, including a 2.5”-long opening running from speaker to speaker on the bottom. The lid, available in either purple or black synthetic material, is permanently fixed onto the case with a raised ridge of plastic around it.
Unlike most cases of this style, the cover here doesn’t merely match the dimensions of the screen, but instead extends over past the right edge, magnetically latching onto the back. This is actually a useful feature as it eliminates the frequent issue of lids being jostled while in a bag, causing them to lock and unlock the iPad’s display and subsequently drain the device’s battery. Studio eliminates that issue as the lid is not moving. This design also cleverly provides coverage for the volume buttons and side switch when the tablet isn’t in use. When needed, it can also transform into a surprisingly sturdy stand for use in viewing or typing orientations.
Without more proper button coverage, however, we really can’t issue Studio a high recommendation. It is a very good case in a lot of ways, though, and certainly worthy of our B+ rating. We enjoy the look and feel of the case, and truly appreciate its latching system, which is useful without being obtrusive. Adding in button coverage and a greater degree of protection over the speakers would help to increase the already strong value.