Most iPad owners purchase a case to protect their device. The type of case you choose depends on how you'll be using your iPad and how much you want to spend. In this section we look at a variety of cases, bags, shells, and sleeves, as well as stands. The descriptions not only include the list price but also the price on Amazon, so that you can get a sense for how much they're selling for through other online retailers.
Best Folio Cases
Bear Motion Leather iPad Case
($59.99, $39.99 on Amazon.com)
This black, genuine, top-grain leather case may not be fanciest, but the combination of quality and value makes it one of the most popular. It not only gives your iPad padded protection, it also folds back as a stand in three different positions. Also, the cutout portions let you access the functionality of your iPad even while it's in the case. The Bear Motion case takes advantage of the iPad 2 Smart Cover technology so that your iPad automatically wakes up when you open the case and goes to sleep when you close it.
AYL 100 Premium Genuine Slim Leather Case Folio with Magnetic Closure
($89.95, $34.50 on Amazon.com)
The genuine leather AYL folio case by Yoobao is slim and light, almost glove-like, with a built-in stand that lets you prop up your iPad in three positions. It uses the Smart Cover technology to automatically activate wake/sleep. The case also includes a magnetic closure. If you're looking for a thin leather case, this may be a good choice, but note that the thinness doesn't get your iPad much of a cushion in case of an accidental drop. It comes in several colors, including black, brown, and red. This case also has cutouts so that you can access your iPad's features while in the case.
Toblino 2 Napa Leather iPad 2 case
($49.95, $39.95 on Amazon.com)
Among the least expensive of the leather folio cases, the Toblino still retains a high-quality, professional look and feel, without adding a lot of bulk. It gives you access to all the buttons, ports, speaker, and rear-facing camera. As with other folios, the cover can be used as a stand for two different viewing angles.
Piel Frama Leather Folio with Magnetic Closure
If you want a high-end handcrafted luxury leather case, with nine color options, Peil Frama may be a good choice. It has a magnetic closure and uses Apple's Smart Cover technology to automatically activate wake/sleep. The cover can be used to prop up your iPad in one position, suited for typing. Inside the case there's an interior pocket that has a microfiber cloth for cleaning the screen. As is typical, the case has cutouts so that you can use your iPad while it's in the case. While the luxurious leather does add bulk and heft to your iPad, it also helps protect it.
Best Book Style Case
A bit different from a folio case, this case has the look and feel of a fabric-covered hardcover book, and it is actually handmade by a bookbinder in San Francisco. The protective frame is made of bamboo, and the interior is red fabric. It was selected as MacWorld's iPad Case of the Year 2010. As with the folio cases, there are cutouts so that you can use it without taking it out of the case. It can also be used as a stand for typing or propping up your iPad for reading/viewing.
STM Jacket for iPad
The STM Jacket, with its shoulder strap, is the perfect case if you tote your iPad everywhere you go. The material is durable and water and stain-resistant. The bag is light and just the size of the iPad, so the bulk is minimal, and it provides a thin layer of high-density padding to protect your iPad. There are two flat pockets on the front; a zippered pocket, ideal for a smartphone, and an open pocket. A flat, open pouch in the back is useful for documents, letters, and other thin items. Since this bag is just the right size for the iPad, don't plan on fitting much else in it. The shoulder strap is removable, and there's also a handle for carrying your iPad briefcase-style.
InCase Field Bag
This coated, weather-resistant canvas iPad bag has a bike messenger-style shoulder strap that mounts the bag on your back. There's a zippered pouch on the front, and the quilted cotton lining offers good protection for your iPad. You can use your iPad while it's in the case (except for the camera on the iPad 2). The bag uses durable nylon and a three-panel multicolor design.
Timbuk2 Freestyle iPad/iPad2 Messenger Bag
If you'd like a roomier bag that you can use for multiple purposes, the sturdyTimbuk2 bag may be a good choice. It has a felt-lined sleeve for your iPad. Note, though, that this interior sleeve is just large enough to accommodate your iPad and won't likely have enough room if you also have your iPad in a case. The bag also has an adjustable shoulder strap and waterproof liner.
Marware C.E.O. Hybrid Case
The C.E.O. Hybrid fuses the form factor of a folio with the functionality of a shell. It has a soft exterior around a molded structure that provides rigid support — yet retains a thin profile. It has a soft lining and provides solid protection for both the front and back of your iPad. It uses the Smart Cover technology to automatically activate wake/sleep. The cover folds back to create a stand with multiple viewing angles.
Aviiq Smart Case
If you purchased one of Apple's Smart Covers for your iPad, and you're worried about also protecting the back side, there are cases that make a perfect complement. Among the sturdiest is the Aviiq Smart Case, with an aluminum back plate. It comes in colors that match a number of the Smart Cover colors, though the match isn't perfect because they're made of different material. There are cutouts so that you can operate your iPad while it's in the case.
Poetic Smart Shell Smart Cover Partner
This plastic case for the back of your iPad is yet another good option if you have an Apple Smart Cover. It is easily attached and removed, and is available as a clear case or in a variety of colors.
Best Cases with Integrated Bluetooth Keyboard
New Trent IMP38B Airbender
The Airbender is a hard case that provides good protection for your iPad. But it's much more: it turns your iPad into a mini-laptop, with its built-in Bluetooth keyboard. The keyboard has the same layout as the iPad's on-screen keyboard. There are four different typing angles to choose from, and you can set the iPad in either landscape or portrait orientation. It also has the automatic sleep/wake function.
Zaggfolio iPad 2 Folio
The Zaggfolio is another laptop-style case, but with a larger Bluetooth keyboard than the Airbender. The carbon fiber case is thin and provides good protection. You can place your iPad in either portrait or landscape orientation, and the keyboard is removable, so you can type with it in or out of the case. It's just being released as this is being written, and while the comments from the online community are quite positive, there were some initial issues. Zagg sent new cases to those who had the issues.
rooCASE Super Bubble Neoprene Sleeve
A sleeve case adds minimal bulk while giving your iPad protection. Some iPad owners use these in conjunction with a bag or briefcase. The rooCASE sleeve has a bubble shock-absorbing foam interior and a Velcro pocket for items such as ear buds and charger. It's available in dark blue, neon green, pink, orange, and red. It's just the size of your iPad, but it can accommodate the Smart Cover.
Griffin Elan Sleeve
($49.99, griffintechnology.com/iPad; $15, Amazon.com)
This sleeve was originally sold for the first iPad, but users say that the fit is tight and that it fits the iPad 2 perfectly — like a glove. You slide your iPad into the sleeve and then use the tab closure to secure it. A tab facilitates sliding it out of the case. It has a smooth synthetic outer shell and microsuede interior.
Best iPad 1 Cases
While some of the cases above may fit the original iPad, most have been engineered specifically for the iPad 2. Below are some of the top cases for the iPad 1.
OtterBox iPad 1 Defender Case Series
The reviews say that the iPad 2 version of this case isn't the same outstanding quality as the first iteration. The original was one of the most popular cases, offering three layers of hard protection, a built-in stand, a protective film for the screen, and a microfiber cloth for cleaning the screen.
ZaggMate with Bluetooth Keyboard
This hard shell case with a built-in Bluetooth keyboard won Best of Show at the 2011 Macworld trade show. It's made of aircraft-grade aluminum, with high-density padding on the inside. It offers 10 different angles for viewing and typing. An iPad 2 version is also available.
Acase Leather Flip Book Jacket/folio
($79.95, $16.99 Amazon.com)
This leather folio offers good protection, and you can also use it as a stand in four different positions. As with other folio cases, there are cutouts that let you use your iPad in the case. Available in black, brown, and red.
The Angle is a leather folio case that offers 22 different viewing angles. It has cutouts for operating your iPad in the case. Available colors are black and red.
Arkon Portable Fold-Up Stand for Apple iPad
If you simply want a stand rather than a case that doubles as a stand, the Arkon is among the favorites. It's light and portable, and lets you position your iPad at multiple angles in either landscape or portrait view. You can fold it up when not in use. The stand can accommodate your iPad with or without a case. It's stable, with a non-skip grip on the base that keeps it from sliding.
Twelvesouth Compass Mobile Stand for iPad
The Compass is an easel-type steel stand that's stable and solid, and it lets you position your iPad in three ways: portrait, landscape, and typing. When not in use, you can fold the three legs together and slip it into its carrying case. The surfaces that touch your iPad are coated with silicone to avoid scratches. A small downside of the sturdy steel construction is the 7-ounce weight and the fact that it attracts the attention of airport security.