With the highly anticipated release of the Apple iPad, accessory providers flocked to the new platform to provide a whole new catalog of items in time for the April 3, 2010 iPad release date. Beyond Apple's own Keyboard Dock ($69), standalone Dock ($29), Case ($39), and Camera Connection Kit ($29), various vendors are offering their interpretations of what makes the ideal protective covers and carrying cases. While some have been able to repurpose existing products based on Netbook dimensions, most have accounted for the unique, slim dimensions of the iPad and designed products specifically tailored around those requirements. This article takes a look at some of the first generation iPad cover accessories available at the time of the iPad's release date or shortly thereafter.
Booq Boa Skin XS Carrying Case
While Apple's iPad case is a sophisticated yet minimal black folder-style case, the creative designers at Booq realize that a broad range of consumers will use the iPad. Some of these consumers prefer to stand out a bit more than others. Booq's slim protective neoprene sleeve comes in subdued black and sand, as well as turquoise, violet, and yellow for the individual who prefers to bring more color to their tech lives. The Boa Skin XS is a no-frills sleeve that does the job of keeping an iPad protected against minor knocks and daily flecks of environmental dirt.
Cocoon Innovations Gramercy CGB150 Messenger Sling
The Gramercy CGB150 Messenger Sling is designed to store not only an iPad but an iPhone as well. The iPhone is stored in a see-through exterior media pocket for easy access, while Cocoon's rubberized ‘GRID-IT!' system allows the bag to be repurposed for gadget uses beyond just the iPad alone. The single strap can be slung across the shoulder or chest for carrying the bag on the side, though I would have preferred a double-strap backpack design to allow the sling to be secure when riding on a bike. Still, I like the idea of the GRID-IT inserts that allow the bag to be used for items besides the iPad such as digital cameras, cables, iPods and portable videogame devices. The bag's elastic strap lattice ensures that it can accommodate nearly any small item that needs to be held tightly in transit. This bag is remarkably well constructed considering its economic price point and is perfectly suited for protecting the iPad in rain or shine. The CGB150 comes in three primary colors— black, gray, and red.
Griffin's Elan Passport
Griffin Technology is a well-known provider of Apple accessories, and it comes as no surprise that they are one of the first companies to offer a quality-constructed container for the iPad. The Elan Passport is a folder design that promotes the Apple black theme with sophistication in the form of a folio with slots for business cards and a soft microsuede lining to protect the iPad's display surface. Couple this with Griffin's Screen Care Kit ($24.95), and the iPad should be well-suited and ready for the road. About the only design enhancement missing from this attractive folio is the ability to fold over to act as a makeshift stand. However, such a configuration would add to the bulk. That might explain why this option was omitted from the Elan's slim design. For those iPad owners seeking a professional, polished case, take a closer look at the Elan Passport.
Like Griffin's Elan Passport, iLuv's iCC806 folio cover brings an added level of protection to the iPad, especially to its screen. While the iLuv doesn't have the frills of card slots, it can be used to stand the iPad up in landscape mode, something the Elan isn't optimized to do. It's also $10 less than Griffin's product, thereby appealing to an audience more interested in function versus features. The iCC806 is also available in pink for those who prefer to wrap their iPads in a brighter color.
M-Edge Executive Jacket
$ N/A; medgestore.com
Aiming for the high-end corporate user and on-the-go professional market, the M-Edge Executive Jacket is constructed with a padded leather exterior and lined with a soft plush interior. This design will be available in 12 different colors to match the company color or personality of its owner. In addition to the cardholder and slots for paper and pen or stylus, this design offers a sturdy 4-point upright stance. This allows stable landscape-mode viewing of Keynote presentations for the demanding customer and hands-free movies for the flight back from that successful business meeting. Pricing was unavailable at press time so hopefully the cost is comparable to other iPad jackets, given the aggressive marketing of other accessory companies vying for the high-end corporate culture pole position.
Ristretto for iPad
Originally designed for netbooks, Tom Bihn's Ristretto messenger bag is one of the most expensive but has the highest quality of the bags and covers discussed in this article. From the padding and multiple pockets to the straps, seams and zippers, the Ristretto is a bag that iPad owners can be confident will protect their expensive investment in rain or shine. The additional compartments come in handy when carrying the iPad and its power supply, with ample room for several other items like a digital camera (and Apple's camera kit adapters), an iPhone, , a pen, pad of paper, and even the iPad's low-tech analog precursor. More discerning customers can upgrade from the more than adequate shoulder strap to the Terra Grip Shoulder Strap. For those carrying a heavier load, consider spending an extra $20 for their contour padded Absolute Shoulder Strap. I really liked the Ristretto, and even though it is the most expensive accessory featured in this article, it's also the most durable. Considering that the high-end iPad costs nearly a thousand dollars, spending another hundred is worth the protection and peace of mind this functional and attractive bag brings to its owners.
New and fashionable
The iPad represents a continuing evolution in the way people interact with digital information, and these accessories are the first iterations of protection for this technological wonder from the bangs and bumps of everyday life. As the iPad expands its market and its usage scenarios, so too will the accessory designs to accommodate these situations. In the meantime, iPad owners have a healthy number of options from which to choose to keep their investments looking new and fashionable.