The iPad 2 is a very well constructed device but it isn't invulnerable. No matter how careful you are, you'll ding it or drop it someday. And when you do, you'll wish you had invested in a case. A variety of cases are available from Apple's online store or another online vendor. Here are some that have caught my eye recently.
Smart Cover and cases that complement it
$39.00, polyurethane; $69.00, leather; apple.com
Apple's Smart Cover is a breakthrough in case design. It not only protects the face of your iPad 2, it attaches to the iPad 2 via magnets, puts it to sleep when you fold the cover over the display, and wakes it up when you fold it back. When folded back, the Smart Cover can act as a mini-stand, allowing you to tilt the screen at an angle suitable for typing or stand it up for viewing. Unfortunately, the Smart Cover leaves the backside of your iPad 2 completely exposed and susceptible to scratches and other damage. If you are going to purchase one, also buy a carrying pouch to protect the backside of your iPad 2 when traveling. You'll thank me later.
Aviiq Smart Case
This is a great solution to protect the back of your iPad if you want to use Apple's Smart Cover. The case is made of rugged plastic encased in solid aluminum. It snaps on to the back of the iPad with ease and doesn't add a ton of weight. Cutouts make all the buttons, sync port, speakers and rear-facing camera easily accessible. The colors don't match up exactly with the Apple Smart Cover, but that is because they are both made of different material. It also still allows you to fold the Smart Cover into a viewing stand. Overall, it is a great solution for protecting the back of your iPad from dings and scratches while complementing the Apple Smart Cover case.
Snap Shield is the nice complement to Apple's Smart Cover. Snap this case on to the back of the iPad 2, attach the Smart Cover, and you are fully protected—front, back, and sides. The lightweight case has cutouts for all of the ports and buttons as well as the rear-facing camera. Used with the Smart Cover, it provides complete protection without sacrificing the Smart Cover look and stand. However, it will slightly change the way you are used to opening up the Smart Cover. Note that it is not a padded case. If you want to still show off the sexiness of the back of the iPad without covering it up, the clear version of this case is for you.
This beautifully designed, handmade case gives your iPad 2 the look and feel of a hardcover book. It is made from "black Moroccan cloth and constructed using traditional book binding techniques." It has an elastic strap similar to that of a moleskin journal, which keeps the top cover closed and in place to protect the iPad's screen. The case shell is constructed of solid bamboo with cutouts that expose all of the iPad 2's ports, buttons, and rear facing camera. The cover also acts as a stand. Although lighter than the DODOcase for the original iPad, this one still weighs in at around ½ pound. But it's a beautifully designed case that provides better protection than thin plastic cases.
RightShift for the iPad 2 with Bluetooth Keyboard
$99. for Bluetooth Keyboard Leather Case; $84 for customized "Make My Case" with Bluetooth Keyboard; solidlineproducts.com
RightShift is an all-in-one leather case that protects your iPad 2 and includes a Bluetooth keyboard to make typing easier. I love it because it frees the screen of the onscreen keyboard while typing. The outer leather shell gives this case an elegant, professional feel. It has a magnetic flap that holds it closed, but does not wake up the iPad when opened, like the Smart Case. (This feature would have been nice.) Cutouts expose all buttons, sync port, speakers, and the rear-facing camera. The portion of the case that houses the iPad 2 can be adjusted to a couple of different angles to make typing a breeze on your lap or a tabletop.
The fully functioning Bluetooth keyboard pairs easily with the iPad 2. The keyboard has buttons that let you bring up the Home screen and adjust the iPad 2's volume. Initially, the keys seemed a little overly sensitive, but once I got used to the feel, it was fantastic. The battery lasts up to 90 hours when fully charged, and a charging cable is included. The keyboard cannot be removed from the case.
The vendor also offers a "Make My Case" version of RightShift that lets you customize your case with an image of your choice. The "Make My Case" version is great, however, the image is not printed on leather. It is printed on material similar to that of a hardback book cover. But the results are very nice. Just make sure you have an image with a high enough resolution for output. Otherwise, your image will print out blurry and pixilated. This is one of the more expensive cases reviewed, but considering what it includes it's a bargain. Highly recommended.
$79.99 – $99.99; twelvesouth.com
This elegantly designed, wrap around case turns your iPad 2 into a vintage hardcover that would be welcome on any bookworm's shelf. BookBook is a perfect way to disguise your iPad 2 from would be thieves. Velvet padding inside protects the front and back of your iPad, and reinforced corners provide additional protection. The iPad is held in place by leather corner brackets on the bottom and an elastic strap along the top. As a final bit of protection, the whole case zips closed. Finally, you can use the cover as a stand in landscape view.
The only drawback is that there is not a cutout for the rear-facing camera—you have to remove the iPad 2 from the case to use it. BookBook does significantly add to the weight of the iPad 2. But if you want the true feel of holding a hardcover book while reading your iPad 2, then this is the happy ending for you.
Magnetic Closure Case
Piel Frama's handcrafted cases are a bit expensive, but if you're looking for that perfect executive leather portfolio case for your iPad 2, you should definitely check out their Magnetic Closure Case. This handmade leather case includes a magnetic closure that secures the cover when shut and activates the wake/sleep mode. The cover flips back and acts as a great landscape stand. The inside cover also includes an interior pocket that can hold a document or the included microfiber screen cloth. Like most of the cases reviewed, cutouts in the case expose all the buttons, sync port, speakers, and rear-facing camera. This is my personal favorite case.
Book Jacket Classic
The Book Jacket Classic is a well-made case that offers sturdy protection in a portfolio design. When opened, it can act as a stable stand for landscape viewing. Cutouts allow easy access to all of the buttons, sync port, speakers, and the rear camera. However, when closed you have no access to the Home button or front-facing camera. It has a flexible cloth strap to keep your case closed and secure when traveling. If you are a fan of moleskin journals, this is the case for you.
The Magazine Jacket looks almost identical to Apple's Smart Cover, but comes with a hard shell plastic case to protect the backside of your iPad 2. As with Apple's case, the screen cover can be folded into a mini-stand with two viewing angles. It also has an adjustable cloth band to keep the cover securely in place. Cutouts make all the controls, buttons, and the rear camera easily accessible. There are two "cons." First, unlike the Smart Cover, the foldable screen cover does not contain magnets and will not wake up or put your iPad 2 to sleep. Second, the screen side of Magazine Jacket's cover does not have a microfiber lining to clean your iPad 2's display. However, I like the slim design and protection this case offers.
This is a nice portfolio case for the person on the go. It not only protects your iPad 2, it also has room for a notepad, pen, business cards, credits cards and an airline ticket. The case is available in leather or recycled synthetic fiber and all models have an outside snap for secure closure. The iPad 2 sits snugly within the inside wraparound enclosure that allows access to all of the buttons, speaker and charging port. Since the iPad's edges are exposed when closed (see picture), you would probably still need some sort of carrying pouch to protect it in dusty or wet environments. In addition, there is no cutout for the rear-facing camera; to use it, you need to take the iPad 2 out of the case. Booqpad Agenda comes with a paper notepad that can be inserted into an inside sleeve on the case. Replacement notepads are available from the vendor.
C.E.O. Hybrid Case
The C.E.O. Hybrid is a sleek low-profile case with hard outer shell and a soft fabric lining inside. It provides protection to both the front and back of the iPad 2 without adding much weight or bulk. Magnets in the lid provide a secure and tight seal and activate the wake/sleep feature. The back of the case has an elastic hand strap for carrying the iPad 2. My favorite feature: The flip lid can be folded back to act as a stand and adjusted to multiple viewing angles. When closed, cutouts allow access to ports and the rear-facing camera. The C.E.O. Hybrid offers a great combination of protection and features; I highly recommend it.
Slim Folio Stand
This lightweight case does a reasonable job of protecting your iPad 2. Like other cases in this section, the cover folds back to become a typing stand. The material seemed a little flimsy, but it did a good job of holding the iPad in place for typing. As with most of the other cases, cutouts allow you access to the ports, buttons and the rear-facing camera. It's a decent case, especially if you're looking for something lightweight. But you can definitely do better for the price.
This sling-style padded zipper bag offers superior protection for your iPad 2. Its weather resistant coating and thick cotton padding make it great for traveling and even camping. It has a "play through design" that offers easy access to your iPad 2 without having to take it out of the bag. However, since this bag was not modified for the iPad 2, there is no access hole for your rear camera. It has an adjustable and removable carrying strap and a zipper pouch on the outside of the bag for accessories, etc. The top of the bag does not act as a stand when set behind the iPad 2. The Field Bag offers superb protection for your iPad 2.
Thin Sleeve for iPad 2
This simple sleeve protects against scratches and dust, but it's not a padded case so don't expect it to offer much protection against drops and hard knocks. The Thin Sleeve has an integrated "eject tab" that lets you easily remove your iPad 2. A flip magnetic enclose wraps around the top of the case to secure your iPad 2. However, you have to open the flap to charge your iPad and remove your iPad to use it. It's a relatively inexpensive solution for basic protection, but I suggest carrying it and your iPad around in your backpack or briefcase for added safety.
BlackBelt Protection Band
BlackBelt is a thin rubber protection band that fits around your iPad 2, cushioning the edges and providing a secure grip. The band is thick enough to suspend the iPad 2 slightly off the tabletop. Cutouts offer access to your port, buttons, speakers and your rear-facing camera. Edges and corners are well protected, but the BlackBelt does not cover the back of the iPad 2 or its display. If you need more than minimal protection or are on the go a lot, you'll probably need a shoulder bag instead of, or in addition to, the BlackBelt.
Big Grips Frame and Stand
Frame Only $34.95; Frame & Stand Set $49.95; biggrips.com
The Big Grips Frame and Stand set is a great protective solution for kids or those with special needs. The frame is constructed of lightweight, durable soft foam, which protects the iPad 2 nicely and provides a great grip. Cutouts expose all the charging port, buttons, speakers and the rear-facing camera. In addition to the frame, the vendor offers a stand made of the same foam material. The stand supports an iPad 2 encased in the frame, allowing you to view and interact with the iPad in vertical or horizontal positions. In addition, you can lean the encased iPad up against the stand. Both the stand and the frame are easy to clean. Great for kids at home or in the classroom.
How do you use your iPad?
The most important thing about picking the right case is to figure out how you are going to use it. If you already carry your iPad in a briefcase or shoulder bag, a Smart Cover or some other minimal solution would probably work well. If you're on the go all the time, favor something more substantial. If you do a lot of text entry on your iPad, the case/keyboard solution described earlier may be for you. Tip: If you're on a budget, check out discount stores for shoulder bags or camera bags. They may not be designed specifically for the iPad, but they may fit your needs and cost you a lot less.
The Apple Store has some great solutions, but definitely look outside of it for a better selection of cases and better pricing. If you run across something you think we should review, e-mail me at email@example.com. I'll take a look at it.