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Incipio underGROUND for iPad In-depth Review

A basic, functional envelope style case at a reasonable price. The felt outer material gives it a nice non-standard look.

Product: underGROUND for iPad

Company: Incipio

Price Paid: 29.99

First Impression

This is a pretty straightforward case. It is simple in design, with a few nice touches that show that some care went into its creation.

Intended Use

This case is intended to be used in conjunction with a bag or backpack. It is not intended to be carried as a stand-alone item for any real distance.

Features, Design & Fit

The design is quite simple, an envelope style case that closes with a loop and tab that join in the middle of the case. This horizontal opening design may work better for people with messenger-style bags rather than backpacks. With a vertical backpack, you’d need to remove the case entirely to get the iPad out.

The tab design has a nice, subtle feature. It’s connected just at the edges, which allows the top of the tab to raise up from the flap for easy manipulation. This design makes it easy to both insert the tab and remove it from the loop to open the case.

The fit is very good; snug but not tight. It feels secure.

I carried this case for a week while traveling and felt it performed quite as expected.

Craftsmanship, Material & Protection

The outer material is felt with a micro-suede inner material. In your hands it feels like felt covering leather. The inner material is soft and shouldn’t mar the iPad’s finish. The stitching is even and the overall fit and finish is very professional.

The case is loosely structured with the only structure provided by the stiffer micro-suede lining (or material in between the felt and the lining).

It provides some light protection from dings and scratches, but no crush protection. The fact that the stitching pinches the front and back together does result in a bumper-like effect around the edges of the case.

Order Process & Delivery

Standard Amazon Prime shipping experience: no hassles and quick delivery. The case was well packaged without fanfare.

Value

I paid about $30 for this case on Amazon and I think that’s a fair price. The current price on Amazon ($20.32) is about 1/3 less than I paid for it, which makes it an excellent deal.

Conclusion

The Incipio underGROUND for iPad does exactly what you would expect from it. The felt styling sets it apart from the crowd a little, while providing a nice, secure feeling in your hand. The design is subtle, yet shows thought and care. If you’re in the market for this type of iPad case, this is recommended.

Categories: Cases, Reviews.

Griffin Elan Sleeve vs. iFrogz Envoy vs. Tuff-Luv Veggie iPad Pull Tab Case Comparison Review

The Griffin Elan Sleeve, iFrogs Envoy and Tuff-Luv Veggie cases are all vertical pull-tab cases for the iPad. They are designed to be used inside another bag or case, and have a pull-tab at the top for easy removal of the iPad from the case.

Ultimately the Griffin Elan Sleeve separates itself from the other two based on superior materials, additional protection, visual styling and a more practical fit (less snug, easier in and out).

Product: Envoy Case for iPad (Snow)

Company: iFrogz

Price Paid: 22.68

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Product: Elan Sleeve for iPad

Company: Griffin Technologies

Price Paid: 44.94

vs.

First Impressions

The Griffin case made the best first impression. It was well packaged and just felt nice coming out of the plastic.

The iFrogz made a good impression as well. The embossed design is nice looking and the white is very bright. The realization that it closed with velcro was the only negative.

The Tuff-Luv was not as positive. It didn’t look bad, but my initial concerns about the design of the ring were not put to rest, and the case opening was a bit wavy and uneven.

Intended Use

These cases are intended to be used for protection while being carried inside other bags, backpacks, etc. and provide moderate protection and quick access to the iPad.

Features, Design & Fit

These cases are all slim to avoid taking up much space and provide a pull-tab to make it easy to remove the iPad from the case. The pull-tab feature lifts the iPad out of the sleeve case so that it can be easily removed without requiring you to squeeze against the screen and pull it out forcefully.

The iFrogz case was the tightest fit. I assume it will have loosen a little over time, however I didn’t use it long enough to notice too much of a difference. Using the pull tab is a requirement to remove the iPad from the iFrogz case.

The pull-tab of the iFrogz case is secured with velcro. I’m not a fan of the sound velcro makes when you separate it, so I wasn’t keen about this design decision. The strap is a thin nylon that had to be pulled rather hard – it was a little uncomfortable to be pulling so hard, though the case never showed any signs that this was a problem.

The Griffin case fits a bit more comfortably. It’s easy to slide the iPad in and out of the case. Without having the pull-tab closed the iPad would fall right out of you held it with the opening facing downward. The

The pull-tab on the Griffin case is quite nice to use. It’s more substantial than the others, and returns to it’s retracted position once the iPad has been removed from the case (I assume, via elastic). The straps on the other cases are returned to their retracted position when the iPad pushes them back down on its insertion into the case. The Elan’s strap doesn’t extend the iPad as far from the case as the other cases, however the looser fit makes it just as easy to remove.

The Tuff-Luv case fit pretty well, but had an odd wave at the top which I tried to show in the photographs. It just didn’t sit flat against the top of the iPad, which makes it feel somewhat cheap and unrefined. The ring that holds the strap in a closed position is a real pain in the arse. It is difficult to open and close without the strap snagging on the nub on the closing arm. Like the iFrogz case, the nylon strap that lifts the iPad from the case is returned to it’s contracted position by pushing it back down when you re-insert the iPad into the case.

Craftsmanship, Material & Protection

The Tuff-Luv and the iFrogz cases are available in other colors besides the ones shown here. The iFrogz case is also available in black, and the Tuff-Luve case is available in an attractive pink/brown combination.

The Tuff-Luv “Veggie” gets it’s name (I assume) because of the faux leather material used for the body of the case. This material feels quite nice, and in causal use or observation I’d imagine most people would think it is actual leather. The interior of the case is somewhat soft, but not particularly plush. There is little padding in the case itself – a trade-off for size. The case provides good screen protection, but should definitely be used inside another bag.

The iFrogz case appears to be faux leather as well, and is fairly rigid. The interior is cloth, but is not very soft (perhaps nylon?). If a pebble or other hard material were to get inside the case and the iPad screen were to slide against it, I think it could scratch. With the snug fit and rigidness of this case, this is the only one of the three I’d have this concern about.

The Griffin case is faux leather as well with a microsuede interior. The interior is markedly softer than the other cases and there is more padding in the walls of the case than the others as well. The exterior material is very soft and feels like leather – it also feels like it will pick up scratches easily and is a serious dust magnet.

Order Process & Delivery

Each of these cases was ordered from Amazon, with the iFrogz and Elan qualifying for Amazon Prime 2-day shipping. The packaging and delivery of each was standard – everything arrived in good working condition.

Value & Conclusion

It’s interesting to me that at the time of this writing, two of these cases are available for significantly less than I initially paid for them. The iFrogz case can be had on Amazon for $13.20 (a 41% discount) and the Elan is available at Amazon for $25.23 (a 44% discount from what I paid on Amazon and a 50% discount from the price on the Griffin website). I thought that the ~$25 price point on the iFrogz and Tuff-Luv cases wasn’t too bad, but for under $15, I definitely think the iFrogz case is a nice deal.

I wasn’t a big fan of the Tuff-Luv case, and since it’s now the most expensive of the three, there is really no reason to recommend it (unless the other color combinations really sing to you).

The Griffin Elan is the nicest case of the three to use, and given the choice at the current prices I’d grab the Elan and not look back.

Categories: Cases, Reviews.

Temple Bags Waxed Canvas and Leather iPad Case In-depth Review

This is a creative case that has some very cool thinking behind it. Temple Bags also does an amazing job with the unboxing experience. Unfortunately, there are some functional flaws with the case that could have been easily avoided by smarter design decisions.

First Impression

I was excited about this bag. From the website information it looked interesting, different and fun. When I received it I found it meticulously packaged (more below) and with some interesting information I hadn’t known: all materials in the bag are military circa World War II.

Intended Use

This is a play-through case – you aren’t expected to remove the iPad from the case in order to use it. It’s a little different than most play-through cases that take a book or folio approach. This case is somewhat rugged and includes a (removable) shoulder strap – it’s clearly something you can/should use as a stand-alone iPad carrying device.

Features, Design & Fit

The overall look of the case is very slick. The all-leather version has a real “Indiana Jones” quality to it, and the canvas and leather version I ordered has a very classic look and feel to it. The green color of the canvas is a little different than I expected from the photos here, however it looks great.

The case is held close by a set of four leather flaps that slip over 4 brass nubs. The leather flaps have holes punched in them that are a somewhat snug fit and require a bit of force to secure and remove. These straps are attached to the back of the case and wrap around to the front of the case.

This system is different and looks really cool. However, it’s has some serious flaws. It takes some time to unhook 4 different straps to use the iPad and time again to reconnect them when you’re done. It lacks “quick draw” ability. I believe that the two bottom straps are really all that are necessary to keep the case closed, provide the easel functionality, and would definitely speed up the process of getting in and out of the case.

The placement of the straps is also a problem. The straps are attached to the back flap of the case and wrap around to the front. This means that when you are closing the case, you are exerting pressure directly on the iPad screen (pushing the flaps over the brass nubs). Having a closure mechanism that makes you put force onto a single point directly on the iPad screen seems like a Bad Idea to me.

CLARIFICATION: I never had a problem hurting my iPad when closing the case, but I did cringe when I saw a friend pushing really hard on the strap over the brass nub when closing it. As you can see from the “open” photos, no metal comes in contact with the iPad screen and I do not feel it is in serious danger.

Further, since the straps are attached the the back of the case they don’t swing out of the way when you wrap the front of the case around. They stay in the way, flopping over the iPad screen in a very inconvenient manner.

This is a serious design flaw. While the brass nubs and closing straps look really cool on the outside of the case, the case could retain all of this coolness by simply having the iPad attach to the front flap and face inward instead of attaching to the back facing outward. That simple change would make the case immeasurably better.

Since there is a fair amount going on with all the straps, using the iPad while in the case is a bit awkward. The two sides of the case do not sit flat against each other when you fold the front out of the way. The straps and brass nubs create about a .5-1″ area between the front and back flaps which is more pronounced towards the non-hinge end of the case. If you set the case on a flat surface like a desk or table in this configuration it doesn’t feel very stable. It’s acceptable if you’re using it on your lap.

One of the nice features of the straps and brass nubs is the ability to connect them with the case open to hold the iPad open in portrait. This works really nicely. Personally, I prefer using the iPad in landscape mode, and while the case will stay open in landscape, it’s upright at a 90 degree angle which isn’t idea for viewing. I’d prefer to have the case open on the long edge (like a book) instead of on the short edge so that it could be propped in landscape at a better viewing angle. This would make watching video, etc. a lot more natural while the iPad is in the case.

There is a cutout for the iPad home button near the hinge side of the case. This creates some issues that would have easily been avoided had the cutout been at the bottom (open) end of the case instead. In particular, if you use any iPhone apps on the iPad, you’ll note that you cannot rotate them – the bottom edge of the app (in portrait) is always at the home button end of the iPad. This results in iPhone apps being stuck upside down when the iPad is open in easel mode (in portrait) in this case.

There are two d-ring loops attached to the back flap of the case that the strap attaches to. The strap has very nice brass swivel hooks on it that clip easily and securely to the rings. The strap can be removed with little fuss. The strap has a padded piece for comfort and is belt-style adjustable with three different positions. Even at the largest setting, the strap is too short to reasonably be worn bandolier-style across your body – it’s basically an over-one-shoulder strap and does not support any other wear pattern.

On the inside of the front flap there is a slim pocket. This has a velcro closure along the top edge, which is a good thing. When the case is closed and worn over a shoulder, the opening of the pocket faces downward. Without the velcro, gravity would have its way with whatever you put into the pocket. The velcro closing limits the size of what can fit into that pocket by several inches. If the pocket was turned around the other way, it could be open at the top with no velcro and no concerns about things falling out. This would make the pocket much more useful for carrying papers, etc.

Craftsmanship, Material & Protection

I had no idea when I ordered that the materials in this case were all authentic World War II military surplus. Here is the quote from the tag that came with the case:

Every bag is handcrafted from materials formerly used in WWII. The fabric is found after hours of searching through dusty warehouses; it is then cut and re-purposed into contemporary designs.

Due to the unique process of salvaging military goods, each back is guaranteed to be one-of-a-kind.

These fabrics that were once used for defending our freedom now serve to protect what you value most.

This is remarkable and quite cool. The case feels great, the materials are excellent quality – as is the craftsmanship.

The stitching is even and compliments the design of the case elegantly. The overall construction is very good and fits the iPad beautifully. There are nice touches like a thinning of the leather on the side straps at the attachment point in order for them to more easily fold back out of the way.

The shoulder strap and attaching clips feel very sturdy and solid. The straps that hold the case closed are thick and secure.

The case provides pretty good drop protection, with enough stiff material between the edge of the case and the recessed edge of the iPad. The case is open on the sides, so it does not fully protect the iPad from the elements, but for most purposes I’d have very few concerns.

Order Process & Delivery

I ordered the case from the Temple Bags website, choosing PayPal as they payment method. I received the case in a reasonable time period, well packed and in good condition.

I really have to hand it to Temple on their packaging. The case came wrapped in brown paper stamped with the Temple logo and tied with twine. The tag explaining the materials was attached to the twine. My colleagues at the office were standing around waiting for me to open it but I had to get a few photos of the wrapped package first.

First rate job all around on packaging and delivery.

Value

The workmanship is excellent, the materials are really innovative and I’m really glad to see people branching out from the same old case designs. That said, I think this case is currently a little over-priced. I think $100 would be a nice sweet-spot for it, maybe the $150 price tag would be fair once the issues I noted are resolved. It’s a unique case and a nice departure from the same old designs.

Conclusion

This case has some great features and some serious flaws. With the current design and relatively high price point, I have a hard time recommending the current incarnation. That said, Temple Bags has done too much right here to have produced a case with so many fundamental issues.

It seems to me that we need a version 2 of this case that resolves some of the issues I noted above. If Temple Bags does create such a beast, I’d love to do a follow-up review here accordingly.

Categories: Cases, Reviews.

BeyzaCases Thinvelope for iPad In-Depth Review

A very high-priced canvas sleeve case with leather trim in an envelope style. The workmanship is top notch, but overall the case doesn’t quite live up to its price tag.

Product: Apple iPad Thinvelope Sleeve

Company: BeyzaCases

Price Paid: $160.27

First Impression

What’s this? I thought this case was leather…

Based on the photos (and price), I thought this was an all-leather case. Turns out only the trim is leather, with the rest a “soft canvas”. I had to go back to the website to double-check, sure enough it’s there in black and white in the description.

It was not a particularly good first impression as a result, but I guess that’s largely my fault.

Intended Use

This is a slim protective case that is intended to be used inside another bag (backpack, messenger bag, etc.). I did carry it to a few meetings by itself and it’s not uncomfortable to carry.

Features, Design & Fit

The design of the Thinvelope is very simple – a large, lightly padded envelope style sleeve case that is sized very closely to the iPad. The overall design is simple and refined. The BeyzaCases logo is stamped in the leather trim on the back of the case. This is a little larger than I’d have chosen (I’d have opted to have it smaller and to the side rather than centered), but the branding is not offensive.

There is a large flap with a magnetic closure which is the single access point to the case. I don’t think the magnetic closure actually gets fully lined up on my case, but the magnet is strong enough to keep it closed and I don’t worry about it opening on its own at all. Since the flap is rather large, you have to remove the case entirely from your bag in order to remove the iPad from it.

I felt most comfortable putting the iPad in with the screen facing the flap (as seen in the photos). It just seemed to fit a little better this way and it meant my fingers were along the back of the iPad with just my thumb on the screen when entering or removing iPad from the case.

The fit is quite good. It’s clear that care was taken to ensure that it was a good fit, it wouldn’t happen this well by accident. It’s snug enough that you have to pay attention when inserting the iPad in the case, but not in a bad way.

Craftsmanship, Material & Protection

Even though I had expected an all-leather case from the website photos, the soft canvas is a nice material in the hands. The stitching is even and refined and the trim is very nicely cut and even. This case definitely wasn’t thrown together – there is real craftsmanship here.

The interior of the case is a soft material (perhaps felt?) that should provide a nice, scratch-free environment for your iPad.

The exterior padding provides reasonable protection for a soft-sided case and is pretty slim. The envelope flap adds another layer of thickness to the case for half of one side, without that it would be about as thin as you could get for a padded case. If you’re using this case in a backpack or messenger bag, I’d have no particular concerns about the iPad being damaged.

Order Process & Delivery

BeyzaCases is based in Turkey so prices are listed in Euros. They boast flat-rate shipping anywhere in the world for 4.99 Euros – very cheap. I’m sure the cost of the cases are inflated a bit to accommodate the low shipping rates (which is an interesting marketing decision).

I pre-ordered through their website using PayPal, and got the case a few weeks later. I also got something about a premium membership and saw references to a discount for pre-ordering, but could never figure out how that worked exactly. To be honest, I didn’t try that hard – it was just a few percent off if I remember correctly.

Value

BeyzaCases aren’t cheap. They offer a high-end product at high-end prices. I paid $160 US dollars for the Thinvelope including shipping (thank goodness they take PayPal).

This is definitely a niche product, perhaps an executive gift. It’s too bad that they don’t offer custom logos and such on the case. That would definitely help support the high price tag.

With many similarly styled cases available for pre-order at about 1/3 of the cost of this case, I have a hard time arguing that it’s worth the price.

Conclusion

The Thinvelope doesn’t disappoint as much as it fails to wow. It’s very nice, with excellent craftsmanship and pleasant materials. The design is simple and it does exactly what you’d expect from a case like this. Ultimately though, it’s probably fair to expect more given the price.

Categories: Cases, Reviews.

WaterField iPad Slip Case In-Depth Review

The WaterField iPad Slip Case is a minimalist padded slip case (protective sleeve), with great attention to detail and smart design and material selection.

Product: iPad Slip Case

Company: WaterField

Price Paid: 36.00

First Impression

This is my first WaterField product, though I’ve checked out several friends’ in the past. I was immediately impressed by the solid feel, smart material choices and nice snug fit. WaterField has a good reputation, and my first impression of the iPad Slip Case did nothing but cement that in my mind.

Intended Use

This case is a simple protective sleeve for the iPad. It is intended to provide protection and quick access when you are carrying your iPad within another bag (messenger bag, backpack, luggage).

Features, Design & Fit

The fit is extremely important for a slip case/cover style case. The iPad Slip Case fit is just about perfect: snug enough that the iPad doesn’t fall out easily but not so tight that it’s hard to put in. When considering the variance involved from the padding and other materials, I consider this to be a pretty noteworthy feature.

The design is very simple: the top is open, and there is a pull-tab at the bottom that you can use to remove the iPad from the case. There is a stiffener sewn in to one side of the case, which helps the case retain its structure and not collapse on itself when you are inserting the iPad.

The pull-tab on the bottom is very useful as the Slip Case is a pretty snug fit. By using the pull-tab, you don’t have to exert too much pressure on the iPad when removing it from the case.

The open-top design is another smart design decision. This provides easy access if you want to pull out your iPad without removing the Slip Case from your exterior bag.

I chose the green color, which is a good balance between not too bold and not too boring. I’d have no qualms about having it seen in a formal business meeting or at a local coffee shop. It also goes nicely with my collection of mainly black and gray exterior bags.

Material & Protection

The material is an area where the iPad Slip Case shines, and where WaterField shows off the thought that goes into their products. The outer material is a soft but rugged feeling nylon that feels like you could hose it off if it starts to get dirty. It’s not too slick and not too grippy, and feels good in your hand.

The interior has two distinct sides to it. One side has a microfiber wall with an insert of some kind that acts as a screen stiffener and protector (you put the iPad’s screen against this side). The other side is a more fuzzy material that is a little more slippery against the backside of the iPad. This kind of attention to detail in a very simple case really impresses me.

As far as protection goes, the padding on the case is very adequate for a soft-sided case. Grab the iPad, throw it in the Slip Case, throw it in your bag and don’t worry about it.

Order Process & Delivery

I ordered through the WaterField website (sfbags.com) using PayPal checkout and the process was pretty straightforward. The checkout process is handled by a 3rd party provider that has web page templates straight out of the late 1990’s, but everything worked smoothly and I received proper email confirmations.

The Slip Case arrived as expected in good condition via ground delivery service and was wrapped in plastic inside a shipping container. Very standard.

Value

I paid $36 including ground shipping for the iPad Slip Case. I think this is a reasonable price for a good quality protective sleeve. All of WaterField’s products are constructed in San Francisco, CA.

Conclusion

There aren’t a lot of bells and whistles in this case, but there is a lot of quality and subtle attention to detail. If you’re looking for a sleeve case to protect your iPad when you throw it in your backpack or messenger bag, this is a good choice.

Categories: Cases, Reviews.