Review: Wekreat Bento for iPad 2
We've seen some confounding cases in the past, but Wekreat's Bento for iPad 2 ($130) is certainly a standout for Apple's iPads. This Swiss Army Knife-style case solution is composed of two main pieces: first is a soft, thin silicone rubber shell that fits around the tablet, and the other is a combination of a 6,600mAh external battery pack, shield, and stand that we'll call the base. Included in the package are a screen protector film, bubble-removing card, two polishing cloths, and a Micro USB cable. While the total package could certainly be useful for some particularly tolerant users, it's significantly over-engineered to the point of being way off target.
The silicone playthrough case is pretty straightforward, although it’s thin and feels cheap. This part of Bento covers most of the back of the iPad 2, as well as the front edge with a small lip. On the rear, there are cutouts for the headphone port, microphone, Sleep/Wake button, rear camera, side switch and volume rocker, speaker, Dock Connector port, Micro-SIM card tray, and, disappointingly, the Apple logo. Wekreat’s plastic is two-toned, with a glossy X in the middle and the rest filled in by a dot texture that provides some grip along the edges. Due to the tight fit of the lip, screen protectors can be peeled away around the entire perimeter.
As simple as the case is, the base is much more complicated. Measuring 5/16” thick, this piece has a soft-touch rubber finish that feels and looks pretty nice. One side is flat and blank, save for the Wekreat logo. Opposite that is where things get tricky: splitting the base down the center vertically is a metal stand that can be used in two ways. For video viewing, you prop the tablet up against the fully extended arm. Although it works in either orientation, landscape is much more secure because there are small ridges at each of the base’s four corners. Then, a typing angle is formed by rotating the stand 90° so that the small rubber flag on the back is facing the base, then lowering the stand all the way down. It’s not very intuitive, but it works.
Unlike some cases that double as chargers, the base does not stay connected to the iPad 2’s Dock Connector port. Rather, it includes two USB ports to which cables can be connected. One is on the outside, next to the Micro USB input for charging the internal battery. The other is underneath a removable plastic door. Taking that door off reveals a wheel to coil a USB cable around—the cord is not included. That cable then plugs into the a port that’s also inside the door, as well as the Dock Connector port on the tablet—a kludgy way of handling device charging. Four LEDs display the remaining battery life.
While there is certainly a benefit to being able to charge two devices at once, Bento probably should have focused on charging one fully first. In our testing with on a powered-on, Wi-Fi-connected iPad 2 with the screen turned off and no media playing, we saw a change of only 61% from the 6930mAh battery. Obviously, charing multiple devices would significantly impact that number. Given how large and expensive this accessory is, we would have expected more power.
In the end, Bento’s primary issue is that it lacks elegance, bringing to mind the adage “jack of all trades, master of none.” For the same price, you can purchase dreamGEAR’s i.Sound Portable Power Max 16,000mAh Backup Battery and get over 160% battery power versus the 60% offered here, or one of the same company’s 8000mAh battery packs plus a really good case of your choice. While we appreciate what Wekreat was trying to do, the result is a miss on pricing and design.