[Special Guest Review by Dennis Wurster of MacSmarts.com]
The folks at Marware are at it again, extending their line of iPad cases to the iPad 2, offering six different choices in various colors and materials. Their most popular case is the $50 "CEO Hybrid for iPad 2", in the folio-style that Marware is famous for. You can see more at http://www.marware.com/c-e-o-hybrid-ipad-2-case
As expected for a case with "CEO" in the name, the overall look is very modern and professional. The case is covered in 'eco-leather', and is offered solely in black. The exterior surfaces have a faux-carbon-fiber look. The inside of the case is a light gray suede-like material, and is stitched around the edges. I reviewed the version for the iPad 2, but they sell versions for the original iPad. The case itself is thin and stiff. Marware says that the back is just over 3mm thick, and the front is 6.5mm thick.
Installation is as simple as sliding the iPad 2 into place on the 'back' portion of the case, then pinching the hinge-side corners of the case around the corners of the iPad. The fit is perfect, neither too tight or too loose -- as long as you don't have a screen film installed.
The shape of the CEO Hybrid case is well thought out. Most importantly, the ports, switches, buttons and camera remain fully accessible. There's even a portion of the back which has been specially shaped to offer clearance for the headphone plug, and a perforated portion for the iPad 2's speaker. If you’re looking for a case to keep dust or moisture out of the dock connector or headphone jack, this isn’t the case for you. The CEO Hybrid case is hinged, and the lid closes snugly against the face of the iPad2 with tabs at each corner that snap around the iPad. Magnets in the lid trigger the iPad 2's 'sleep and wake' feature, exactly like Apple’s own Smart Cover. Marware claims that their case covers 97% of the iPad 2 when closed. The case also has a built-in hand strap, which is useful for holding the iPad while you tap the screen with your opposite hand. The subtle grooves on the back of the lid offer a bit of tactile grip when using the case in this orientation.
Snapping the hinge-side corners away from the iPad allows the case to act as a landscape-orientation stand, offering three propped-up positions. The exposed edge of the iPad rests in one of the two grooves, or lays nearly flat. The steepest two angles are best for watching video, reading, or using FaceTime for a video chat. The lowest is very good for typing on the iPad's on-screen keyboard. Typing forcefully causes the iPad 2 to bounce just a bit, so a light touch is best.
One somewhat unique feature was the corner protection. It always seemed to me that an iPad’s corners were the most in need of cushioning, and this case protects them admirably, unlike the vast majority of Marware’s competitors.
As for quibbles, there really aren't many. A slightly larger cut-out for the volume rocker and the rotation-lock switch would help those with larger hands. Also, when using the hand strap, the iPad flops around clumsily if you look at your watch. Note that the cover flap blocks the camera when flipped around. This case was heavily tested by an entire family. It was used around the house, taken on road trips, stuffed into purses and work bags. Even after a few months' heavy use, this case has proven to be durable, retaining its great looks and functionality. It's thin, and yet offers great protection. This is a highly recommended product to anyone with an iPad 2.
--- Dennis Wurster provides Mac-focused expertise to businesses in and around Rochester, NY. He has written for Ziff-Davis's Mac Administrator's Journal, co-hosted on Sound Bytes and presents at AppleCIDER, Rochester's Apple User Group. Dennis is a certified Apple Product Professional and currently blogs the solutions he discovers at macsmarts.com.
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