Review: Zenus Masstige and Prestige for iPad 2
Extending two of its existing iPhone 4 product lines to the iPad 2, Zenus has introduced a faux-leather folio case called Masstige ($70), and a real cowhide version called Prestige ($100). While the materials differ, both cases have the same fit and functionality. The iPad 2 fits into a hard-reinforced back shell with a flip open cover, and built in flaps allow the case to stand at two different angles. Like Zenus' prior designs, we're fans of the materials used here, but were less than thrilled by some flaws in the implementation.
While the leather used in the more expensive Prestige case is actually pretty nice—we much preferred the flat “camel brown” to the textured “black lizard” version—we were surprised by how nice the faux leather in Masstige was—it looks and feels just like the real thing, with a distressed finish that is pretty sharp. Both versions are built in the same way, and the first thing we noticed after inserting iPad 2s into the cases was that the fit of their back shells was not very good. While the iPad 2 is pretty secure in the shell, the molding isn’t completely flush. There is somewhat of a gap between the back of the device and the case along the top and bottom edges, and the corners are not equally covered.
Cutouts for the rear camera and speaker are also imprecise. On two of the three cases we tested, the camera hole was more of an oddly shaped blob than a perfect circle, and was off center relative to the camera. Those same two units had full openings for the speaker which were too high, covering about half of the grill. The “camel brown” leather model was somewhat better aligned, but still not great. Zenus’ website features promotional pictures with what is clearly a pre-announcement mock up of an iPad 2, so we assume that is what the actual cases were based off of. On all three models, the buttons and ports along the sides of the iPad 2 are accessible, although Zenus takes the same shortcut we have seen from a few other companies by leaving the top edge almost fully exposed instead of having proper cutouts for the headphone port, mic, and Sleep/Wake button.
On the front cover of each of the cases is a loop made from matching material; a tab is inserted from behind to hold the folio’s front flap shut. Unlike an increasing number of iPad 2 folio cases, Masstige and Prestige do not include magnets to utilize the iPad 2’s automatic sleep feature. On the inside, the front flap is lined with microfiber on the leather models and faux leather on the other. In the center are two fold out stands, each attached by a ribbon. The smaller, shorter one forms a typing stand while the larger is made for video viewing; in both cases, the tab on the back of the case must be folded backwards and tucked into the front loop. We found that the smaller stand had to be overextended to properly stay in place, otherwise it simply collapsed, while the more obtuse option was better grounded —Zenus would benefit from incorporating some sort of locking mechanism to hold the stands in place in future models.
Although their materials are pretty nice, the actual execution of Zenus’ Masstige and Prestige struck us as unimpressive, particularly given their prices. The shared back shell design just does not fit well, possibly indicating production before the launch of the iPad 2, but in any case unacceptably imprecise for a final release. In addition to fixing that, we’d like to see Zenus fully cover the top of the iPad 2, and add magnets to utilize the sleep/wake feature. Finally, and as odd as it was even for us, we preferred the Masstige to the Prestige, even though it is composed of a less impressive material; the faux leather used in Masstige looked, felt, and even smelled better than the real leathers. That said, we still wouldn’t recommend either of these cases with their existing flaws given their price levels; these sorts of premium prices are and should be reserved for higher-end, name-brand designs.
Updated: In June 2011, Zenus sent us a version of the Masstige folio called the Color Block Series, shown above, that uses two-toned faux leather with a moist, rubbery texture. It sells for $60. While this case is less expensive than the prior version, it looks and feels it. Our ratings remain unchanged.