One of our biggest objections to iPad sleeves is that they normally offer no protection when the tablet is actually in use — combined with their generally “me too” designs, they’re easy to ignore. But JAVOedge’s Austin Flex Sleeve for iPad 2 ($30) packs a trick that makes it stand out from the crowd. This sleeve folds in an origami-like fashion to form a stand that can be used with the iPad 2 in either portrait or landscape orientation; a small lip at the top edge holds the tablet in place. It’s made out of a seemingly synthetic material that’s printed to look like a natural fabric, in purple or grey.
While magnets inside are supposed to hold the shape of the stand by themselves, they need some help. You can feel that they’re weakly attracted to each other, but not enough to actually do anything on their own; the tablet’s weight plays a much bigger role. Once the iPad’s in place, the stand is surprisingly stable, and provides a very usable viewing angle. Another magnet is located in the flap that covers the open end of the sleeve. This one actually does its job, keeping the iPad 2 securely in place. We were able to fit an iPad 2 with a Smart Cover into the sleeve, but would recommend skipping the lid; it was a very tight fit.
As sleeves go, the Austin Flex Sleeve is actually rather useful. Yes, nicer materials would have made it a better pick, but for the price, it’s a pretty good deal. We’d like to see stronger magnets, which would lead to a self-supporting stand, but we wouldn’t pass on this sleeve even without them. It merits our general recommendation.
Company and Price
Model: Austin Flex Sleeve
Compatible: iPad 2