We’ve received quite a few e-mails from readers asking for our thoughts on the current lineup of iPad cases, particularly which we’d recommend at this point in time. Due to the wide variety of things we’re currently working on over here, I’m going to provide a very quick set of answers to explain our current thinking about the collection as a whole, including which we’re liking and why you might or might not want to hold off. The full iPad Case Gallery is here for your perusal.
Rubber and Plastic Cases. iPad case developers have been working at a distinct disadvantage over the past two months because Apple didn’t provide anyone—well, apparently, almost everyone—with dimensional drawings or other ways to actually insure that their precision-fit rubber and plastic cases would actually fit precisely. Some companies took educated guesses and did exceptionally well: Macally’s unfortunately-named Metrolpad (aka MetroLink) is probably the best of them, apart from its overly flush button protectors, followed by Incipio’s Dermashot, a rubber case that is very close to excellent in execution, apart from somewhat soft front bezel coverage. Incase’s Grip does better in the front, but feels chunkier, costs more, and doesn’t include screen protection; its inclusion of a plastic stand is, however, appreciated.
A few others that will need some additional work: Griffin’s slightly too soft FlexGrip, Hard Candy’s stiff Sleek Skin and Street Skin, Macally’s soggy Msuitpad and ehhh back plates Metrob, c, and mpad, and Belkin’s Grip Vue. There’s actually nothing hugely wrong with Grip Vue except that it’s made from glossy plastic and sells for $50. By comparison, Simplism’s Silicone Case Set goes for a more reasonable $30, comes in a bunch of colors, and is a little too floppy, but otherwise not bad.
Screen Protection. Incipio’s Anti-Glare Screen Protectors are pretty close to a lifesaver. They don’t eliminate the iPad’s smudges, but cut glare way down. Anti-glare film—particularly high-quality anti-glare film—will be a big hit for iPad users.
Sleeves and Folios. Ugh. We’ve been saying it for the past three years, but it bears repeating: we don’t like sleeves and we don’t like cases with big front flaps. They were annoying on early iPods, then became really annoying on touchscreen iPods and iPhones, and for the iPad, they have the potential—if improperly designed—to be downright stupid. Somewhat amazingly, Apple’s official iPad Case manages to combine a cheap-feeling material with the ability to pick up all sorts of dust, the inconvenience of having to open a front flap, and incompatibility with Apple’s own Docks—a loser across the board except for its ability to prop the iPad upright.
The only sleeves and folios we sorta kinda like for the iPad are the cool-looking Booq Boa Skin XS, the Incase Convertible Book Jacket, and Vaja’s Retro Slim Jacket, and then largely on looks, not because we like the functionality. Incase’s design is better than the others because of its video stand feature. Also, Hard Candy’s Bubble Sleeve continues to draw positive attention whenever we show it to people, though it’s pricey given what you’re getting for $50. A safe bet for those who are waiting for a better non-sleeve case to appear: the Kensington Reversible Sleeve for $10. It’s cheap and simple.
Go See The Case Gallery Anyway. We created the iPad Case Gallery for one major reason: cases have become such a matter of personal style that what works for one person (or, as is commonly the case, all/most of iLounge’s editors) may not be what another person wants. Moreover, some of the cases that do little for us on functionality really look cool, anyway—Speck’s PixelShield, Griffin’s Jumper, and Belkin’s Max Sleeve all have neat little assets that some people might really like. The collection will only continue to grow over time, so if you don’t see something that interests you now, wait a few weeks, and you’ll surely have more and better options.