Review: Vaja Leather Agenda + Libretto for iPad 2
Vaja's new Leather Agenda ($220) and Libretto ($160-$190) folio cases for the iPad 2 follow in the same tradition as many of the company's previous models. Their beautiful-looking bodies are composed of top-quality floater leather -- the best-feeling stuff around -- on the outside, while hard reinforced back shells hold the iPad 2 in place. At first glance the cases are almost identical; the only differences are the material used for the inner lining, and the addition of an elastic strap on Leather Agenda. The bodies are otherwise exactly the same. Both are offered in a multitude of colors, so regardless of the combination of tones and features you choose, you can expect to wait about 20 days for manufacturing and delivery.
As nice as both of these cases look, they’re extremely expensive by iPad case standards, which would lead most users to expect great protection. That’s why we were disappointed by the lack of coverage provided by Leather Agenda and Libretto. When the iPad 2 is in the shell, not only is the bottom edge almost fully exposed, but so are the top and right corners to just below the volume rocker, thanks to an L-shaped opening. Because of this, all of the buttons and ports are fully accessible, though the speaker is partially obscured, with the top few rows of dots covered. In addition to the problems with edge coverage, the front covers on both cases did not extend all the way to the right edge of the tablet, leaving about 1/4-inch of the bezel exposed.
While Leather Agenda is only available with a leather lining, Libretto customers are presented with the option of either microfiber lining for the base $160 price, or Caterina leather lining for $30 more, bringing Libretto to the point where it’s almost identical to Leather Agenda. The only difference is the elastic strap, which is being sold for an effective $30 premium.
In terms of functionality, Leather Agenda and Libretto work OK, at best. There are magnets in the front covers to activate the iPad 2’s automatic locking feature. We really appreciate this addition, but because the flaps are so light and ill fitting the magnets in the tablet can be easily be tripped by accident. Similarly, the elastic band used to hold the lid shut on Leather Agenda is not very taut and we could see it coming accidentally undone in certain circumstances. Libretto really isn’t missing anything by not having it, and the price difference between the models really isn’t justified by its inclusion.
Both of these cases do transform into stands using a leather and metal tab on the back of the shell. Of the two positions, the one for viewing is certainly better; it’s stable and the angle is good. The typing position is acceptable, but the front flaps can slip out of the tab much too easily, leading the iPad 2 to collapse onto your desk. We weren’t particularly impressed with how the front covers were connected to the rear shells, either. They’re sewn on, but the connection is not reinforced at all. This leads the lids to flop around, and not always sit squarely behind the shells.
Again, we love the leather that Vaja uses in its cases. Combined with the metal accents on Leather Agenda and Libretto, there’s no doubt that these are really sharp-looking cases. Even with such striking appearances, though, neither case is as protective or functional as it should be for these prices. For $160 and more, we would at least expect coverage to extend all the way to the top and bottom edges and across the glass face of the iPad 2; for the $30 additional price of the strap, it should be more than just a toss-in. As they are, Leather Agenda is worthy of a C rating, while the slightly less expensive Libretto earns a C+—our hope is that Vaja’s next generation of tablet cases will be at least a little better designed, so that they’re as functional and protective as they are beautiful.