The mantra of “simpler is better” often holds true for protective cases, and Apple has shown time and time again that simplicity does not need to come at the expense of features — elegance needn’t mean “boring.” But Skech’s first case for the iPad 2, Custom Jacket ($50), relies upon simplicity without bringing any particular innovation to the table. It’s a nice enough case, but it really doesn’t stand out from the pack.
The folio-style case is available in two different synthetic materials: a brown faux leather and a black diamond-patterned rubber. Both have the same style hard rear shell, with enough give to allow for the insertion and removal of the iPad 2 without fear of it falling out on its own. The backing covers the aluminum frame but none of the bezel. There are specific openings cut for the Dock Connector port, speaker, side switch, and volume rocker along the bottom and right side; Custom Jacket’s Dock Connector opening is large enough to accommodate oversized plugs and accessories such as Apple’s Camera Connection Kit. Unfortunately, the top edge does not have this same level of protection. Instead there is one long opening that leaves only the corners covered. It is especially disappointing to see this kind of overexposure when the rest of the coverage is pretty good.
Also underwhelming is the front cover. As with most folio-style cases, Custom Jacket’s lid can be folded under the shell and tucked into a sewn-on flap, turning into a stand for both viewing and typing—the latter of which does not sit flat. The lid is rather sturdy and is attached securely to the shell. While not obligatory, the addition of magnets to hold the cover closed and activate the iPad 2’s automatic locking feature would have been appreciated. Many competitors are including them now, and though last year’s folios didn’t have this feature, the omission is certainly felt at this point in time.
It’s easy to find more expensive and less protective cases than Custom Jacket—we’ve certainly seen plenty—and we’ve also tested less expensive and more protective cases, as well as plenty that are really interesting in some way or another. Compared with its numerous more distinctive competitors, there’s just nothing to get excited about with this offering. We think of it as being a less ambitious and less expensive alternative to the Incase Book Jacket, which does just a bit more with nicer materials. Perhaps if Custom Jacket offered more coverage along the top or incorporated magnets, there would be more value for the price, but as it is, it’s worthy of a limited recommendation. While this is a technically competent design, you can easily find a case with more personality and features.
Company and Price
Model: Custom Jacket
Compatible: iPad 2