Review: SwitchEasy Cara for iPad mini
It's not much a surprise to see that SwitchEasy has ported over yet another of its iPad cases to fit the iPad mini; this time, it's the handsome plastic case Cara ($40). For the most part, it's simply a smaller version of the same case we last reviewed when it was released for the iPad 2. Small internal changes are appreciated, although the loss of a key pack-in may be a turn-off for some buyers. The case is available in red, black, or white.
Viewed from the front, Cara resembles a glossy turtle shell. The hard plastic lid is molded with 14 raised segments, and it’s quite sturdy without adding any significant bulk; it also holds closed quite firmly thanks to a cleanly implemented side clip. A soft, texturized rubber frame holds the iPad mini in place, and extends through the inside front cover, forming a soft flexible hinge between the two halves. A latch along the right edge of the lid holds the case securely shut, but is easy enough to pop in or out of place. We’re thankful to see that SwitchEasy added auto-locking magnets. They were missing from our initial iPad 2 review units, but appear to have been added to the line afterwards. It’s become an all-but-standard feature, and adds to the value of any case.
SwitchEasy’s shells have become particularly good over the last few generations, particularly those for the iPad mini, and Cara is no exception. The rubber body covers almost all of the tablet’s back, leaving only necessary openings for the microphone, iSight camera, side switch, speakers—through matching pin-sized holes—headphone port, and Lightning port. Those latter ports can be covered with included protectors, while the buttons maintain their feel underneath the rubber.
In addition to the connector protectors, Cara comes with screen film, a microfiber cloth, and a squeegee. Gone from this edition—and, apparently, all of SwitchEasy’s iPad mini cases—is the pair of plastic folding stands full-sized Caras included. This turns out to be an issue here: although the latch on the lid is advertised as anti-slip, with the ability to hold the case in a viewing orientation, we were not able to get Cara to stand on many surfaces including our desk. Each time, it would hold the position for a few seconds at most before sliding downwards. It was a different story when tested on a tablecloth, the uneven surface of which can hold the lid in place. Your mileage will vary, depending on where you plan to stand the case up.
Once again, SwitchEasy has produced a really nice-looking case that offers thorough, practical protection, and sells it at an affordable price—in this instance, a reasonable $10 less than the full-sized model. The biggest issue this time is the lack of consistent stand functionality. Almost every other folio case can hold a viewing angle; the fact that Cara can’t always do so will be a big drawback for some users, more than offsetting the lower price and added screen-locking magnets. This is a shame because SwitchEasy got so much else right, but the lack of a sturdy stand earns Cara a general recommendation.