Review: SwitchEasy Pelle for iPad Air
Whenever a new iOS device comes out, SwitchEasy is usually quick to support it with myriad cases, including updates of older models and sometimes even brand new ones. The first two released for the iPad Air fall into the former camp: Canvas ($50) and Pelle ($60) are both followups to previous editions, with the first iteration of Canvas dating all the way back to the original iPad. Compared to their immediate predecessors, these two cases are actually highly similar, although in a surprise move — the first time we can recall such a thing from SwitchEasy — there are actually small steps backwards.
Canvas’ basic folio design is a very familiar one, having been awarded our Case of the Year Award in the past. It combines a hard plastic shell and a canvas cover, which wraps all the way around as a lid and onto the back, forming a book-style protector for the iPad. We were excited to see button coverage added into the equation with the iPad mini edition of the case, but baffled to see it disappear this time around. The hard plastic shell is still nice, as is the canvas over it, but it simply has holes exposing the controls, along with the ports.
One of the biggest advantages to Canvas is its wide range of stand positions, thanks to a textured interior to the lid, and two small, grippy feet along the left edge of the case. There are no pre-determined angles; it can go wherever you want it. Otherwise, it comes with the same pack-ins as always — screen film, a microfiber cloth, a squeegee, and a pair each of headphone and Lightning port protectors — and new and brighter colors are available this time around.
Next up is Pelle, a more recent addition to the company’s product lineup. Last seen for the iPad mini, this one is highly similar. The folio incorporates an exposed hard plastic shell and a faux leather cover — bluntly referred to as “fake leather” on the company’s website, although it is nice enough to pass for the real thing. Much like Canvas, the button coverage that was found on the last version is now gone, which is disappointing.
What Pelle does have is one of the more unique lid/stand setups we’ve seen. Even though it appears that it might fold in two places, the cover actually only bends in one, and this is where a sliding tab comes into play: a metal slider is housed in a sheath sewn on towards the bottom corner right over where it folds. Pull it out—stitching keeps it from being fully removable—and it allows the hinge to bend. The cover can then be bent into both viewing and typing angles.
It’s unfortunate to say that SwitchEasy hasn’t quite lived up to the expectations it set with its last Canvas and Pelle releases. While these two editions aren’t extremely different from before, the lack of button coverage that was once there is a strike against them, and prevents them from earning the same ratings as before. Additionally, the case market for iPads in general and iPad Airs in specific has become considerably more competitive, with some great, versatile options already available at lower prices than these designs. Canvas now comes in at an B+, and the more expensive Pelle merits a flat B. The latter is lower rated mostly due to its unusual lid, comparative lack of angles, and higher price.