We were as surprised as anyone that Macally not only produced one of the very best cases for the original iPad last year — the oddly-named MetroLpad — but also managed to release it at a fantastic $30 price, let alone in the same week as Apple debuted the first iPad. Despite testing hundreds of other options, MetroLpad has remained one of our go-to iPad cases for the last year, and we were excited by the prospect of an improved sequel for the iPad 2. So far, the closest Macally has come is Dualstand 2 ($30), a considerably modified version that evolves MetroLpad’s functionality, albeit with somewhat uneven cosmetic results.
Most of what we really love about Dualstand 2 are the key features that have been carried over from MetroLpad: a combination of hard rear plastic and semi-firm rubber edging that work together to provide excellent protection of the iPad 2’s body in a slender, lightweight package. Though Macally leaves holes for the camera, microphone, speaker, side switch, headphone port, and Dock Connector port, they’re all reasonably sized, and Dualstand 2’s integrated volume and Sleep/Wake button protectors are similarly just right: each button has its own clearly defined pressable surface that works as expected, with only a hint of initial confusion due to designed-in elevated surrounding ridges that you might accidentally try to depress until you learn the case’s feel. Since many iPad and iPad 2 cases offer no button protection, the extra coverage is particularly appreciated here, and unlike some of the softer TPU and silicone rubber cases we’ve tested, Dualstand 2’s edges don’t slip off the iPad 2 during normal use.
Where Dualstand 2 most markedly improves on MetroLpad’s design is on the back, which actually has two integrated stands: one for typing, and the other for video viewing, both tucked into the relatively slender case’s hard plastic rear shell. Our guess is that Macally switched the frosted clear back we loved on the prior case to opaque so it could hide the stand’s hinges, a design choice that we can understand even if we don’t prefer it.
The addition of these stands is a net positive, partially addressing the only glaring functional omission of the last case: some users can now forego the need for separate tabletop stand accessories. But neither of the stands is adjustable: the landscape viewing angle is stuck at a sharp 45 degrees that we found to be a little too steep for ideal video playback and FaceTime calling, while the typing angle is very close to “right,” but isn’t adjustable either. Particularly given Dualstand 2’s low asking price, we can look past these limitations, but greater adjustability—for portrait and landscape viewing—or just a better landscape video angle would have been superior. That said, we have not as of yet seen an iPad or iPad 2 case that integrates a stand in as thin of a form factor as this does.
Another element of Dualstand 2 that will either win or lose you pretty quickly is the single color scheme that’s available. Unlike the ultra-neutral clear and black MetroLpad, Dualstand 2 ships in a polarizing high-contrast yellow-accented glossy black plastic shell. This color scheme makes the iPad 2 look like it’s ready for crash test duty or some other industrial application, rather than just blending in as we—and probably most other iPad 2 users—would prefer. Every person who has seen it here has commented on the oddness of the color choice.
Putting aside the color issue and the limitations of the video stand, Dualstand 2 is otherwise a great case option for the iPad 2. Even if the stand wasn’t included, the price would be aggressive enough to leave you with enough cash to purchase a great anti-glare screen protector of your choice, nearly completing full iPad 2 body coverage. That there’s a stand inside will save many travelers—and some parents—from having to buy and carry a separate accessory around. Though small tweaks could make Dualstand 2 even better, our strong feeling is that Macally is generally on the right track towards perfection with this case; if you like or don’t mind the way it looks, it should be on your short list of top case options going forward.
Company and Price
Model: DualStand 2
Compatible: iPad 2