iPhone Life magazine

The Best iPad Cases

Choosing the best case for your iPad depends on how you use it, the type of environment in which you use it, whether or not you travel with it, how much money you can afford, and your personal preferences. Whether you're looking for the "naked" look, a simple grip, exceptional protection, a carryall, a case that "makes a statement," or a specialty case, there's a solution for you. A search on the Internet yields a diverse assortment of iPad cases in a variety of colors, styles, sizes and prices. With so many choices, making a decision can be difficult. To help you get started, here are my choices for Best iPad Cases for 2010.

Best Shells and Skins

The shell/skin is for the iPad owner who wants minimal protection but is more interested in a case that doesn't add much bulk to the iPad. A shell snaps onto the back of the iPad, protecting its back and corners. A skin encases the iPad, protecting its sides and sometimes its back.

Best Style:

iSkin Duo for iPad

($49.99, iskin.com)

iSkinDuoiPadThe iSkin Duo is made of translucent silicone and is available in seven stylish colors: Sky (blue/black), Diablo (red/black), Glam (pink/black), Persia (purple/black), Solei (yellow/black), Artic (clear/black) and Night Hawk (brown/black). Not content with just being stylish, the iSkin Duo also protects against light bumps and scratches, both on the sides and the back. In addition, the skin wraps around to the front creating a border that provides a thumb grip and also prevents the screen from touching surfaces.

A unique feature of the iSkin Duo is an attached plug that inserts into the earphone opening, keeping dust and debris from entering. When using an earphone, you simply pull out the insert and let it hang. The insert then remains attached so it won't get lost.

I love the feel of this case. It's slick, but not slippery. It's compact, lightweight and features exclusive, FDA-approved, embedded Microban antimicrobial protection to inhibit odor and stain causing bacteria. It's also washable in detergent and hot water, if needed.

Best Value:

Particle Case + Pogo Sketch

$34.95, tenonedesign.com

PogoSketchParticle Case sheaths the iPad in a shock-absorbing shell with embedded feet that provide traction and stability for tabletop use. An open-air back keeps the iPad running cool even while playing video. There's also a thumb grip on this shell that keeps your iPad from slipping out of your hands. I'm not crazy about the black-rubber look, but I LOVE the integrated stylus clip and Pogo Sketch stylus! The stylus has a soft tip that is recognized by the iPad's touch screen. It won't scratch the screen and doesn't leave unsightly smudges.

Best Protection:

Proporta Mizu Shell

$39.95, proporta.com

Mizu ShellThe Mizu Shell is made of tough silicon that fits like a glove and provides your iPad with an "unbeatable toughness with a soft touch finish." This shell will definitely protect the back and edges of the iPad against impact damage and scratches. I like the feel of this case, but I wish it had a thumb grip similar to the iSkin Duo. It's available in red, black, and pink.

Best "Naked" case:

Macally METROCPAD

$29.99, macally.com

METROCPADThis lightweight, crystal clear, snap-on plastic shell provides a minimum of protection to the back and corners, while maintaining the iPad's original appearance. This is what the purist call, the "naked" look. All the connections and controls remain open for easy access. It feels smooth and shiny like plastic but is not slippery. Other than the Macally logo on back, there's nothing to mar the original appearance of the iPad.

Best Customization:

SkinIt

$29.99, skinit.com

SkinIt1Whether you want to celebrate your favorite sports team, college, movie/TV show, or want to make a statement about your personality, SkinIt has a design for you. The skins are made of durable automotive-grade vinyl that fit the contours of the iPad perfectly, without interfering with docks and buttons. The skins apply easy and can be removed without leaving sticky residue. In addition to the wide variety of designs available from SkinIt, you can create your own custom skin using the customizer tool found the website. Simply upload your image and add your own text.

Best Slipcases

A slipcase is a pouch in which the iPad is stored when not in use. Usually made from leather or cloth, it can be decorative, protective, or both. It can be hand carried or tucked into a larger bag, backpack, or purse. Here are my choices for the Best Slipcase category:

Best Protection:

iLuv Casual Fabric Case with Band Clip

$39.99, i-luv.com

iLuvCasualThis is an extremely durable cloth slipcase with a felt lining that protects the iPad. A decorative metal clip, attached with Velcro, keeps the iPad from sliding out the top. It's attractive (I'm partial to the Oklahoma State colors.), and it's sturdy enough to protect the iPad from most everyday bumps and scratches.

Best Value (Tie):

Maya II Pouch

$29.95, proporta.com

MayaIIPouch1This beautifully crafted case is made from an eco-friendly leather alternative. It has a super soft lining that protects against light bumps and scratches, and it slips easily into a bag, purse, or backpack. This case feels great and looks upscale, yet it's low in price. Color choices are black, white, or pink—all with a stylish black and white contrast. The men in my life voted for this one.

Best Style-tie:

Incase Neoprene Sleeve Plus

$39.95, goincase.com

Fabrix Magic Sleeve for iPad

$32.90, fabrixcases.com

SleevePlusGreen1The Incase Neoprene Sleeve Plus caught my eye because of its color choices: bright green and bright pink! The cushioned interior is lined with faux-fur to protect the iPad. This is the only slipcase I found that closes securely with a zipper.

FabrixSleeveThe Fabrix Magic Sleeve also makes a fashion statement with its unique designs, which include Birdies in Pink (shown in picture), I Love Poppies, Love Bouquet, Floral Bliss, and Houndstooth. More conservative designs are also available. This padded cloth case also protects against scratches and light bumps.

Both cases are lightweight and tuck nicely in a purse or bag. I love the colors and designs!

 

Best Value (Tie):

Booq Boa Skin XS

$29.95, booqbags.com

BoaSkinXSThe rigid back of this slipcase provides impact protection for the display side of the iPad, while the soft neoprene front protects the back from scratches. The Boa Skin is an ideal slipcase for carrying an iPad inside another bag, backpack, or purse. It's available in turquoise, black, sand, yellow, and violet.

Best Portfolio Cases

Portfolio cases provide style, functionality, and protection. Their wrap-around covers not only protect the front, back, and sides of the iPad, they open like a book to let you access to the iPad without having to remove it from the case. Most are able to act as stands (both vertically and horizontally). Here are my choices for the Best Portfolio category:

Best Style:

Piel Frama

$135.00 ($110 Euro), pielframa.com

PielFrama31The Piel Frama case for the iPad is an upscale portfolio with an upscale price. Handmade in Spain, it's available in three leathers: cowskin, cowskin-ostrich and cowskin-crocodile. In addition, you have your choice of magnetic or snap closures. The case has a soft, leather lining and an inside pocket, which is just right for holding a cleaning cloth. The case also functions as an easel for typing.

It's soft, elegant, and practical, with a professional look that appeals to both men and women. The manufacturer offers a choice of colors including black, brown, red, green, blue, pink, and orange. It ships in an attractive, embossed box, making it a perfect gift for that special someone.

Best Protection & Value:

Marware Eco-Vue for iPad

$54.99, marware.com

EcoVueIPad1This versatile and affordable leather case protects the iPad from everyday bumps and scratches. It features a fold-away stand that elevates the iPad to just the right angle for typing. An elastic strap keeps the Eco-Vue case shut, but it can also be used when open to align the back and front, giving it more stability. I especially like the fact that you can fold Eco-Vue flat, even when the cover is open. Marware included a hand strap on the inside front cover that lets you securely grip the iPad when it's being used. The strap is too big for me, but it would probably suit someone with a larger hand.

The Eco-Vue is not quite as sturdy as Apple's iPad Case (see next review), but it's more than sufficient. It's made of a combination of "eco-leather" (leather made without the environmental impact of standard tanning and dyeing processes) and faux suede.

Best Functionality:

Apple iPad Case

$39.00, apple.com

AppleIPadCase1The Apple iPad Case is a lightweight, form-fitting portfolio that tucks easily into a briefcase, purse, or backpack. A flap holds the iPad securely inside the case, and you'll never have to worry about it falling out. The soft microfiber interior of the case protects the back of the iPad from scratches. My favorite feature of the case is its ability to fold into a typing stand. The front cover folds all the way open and tucks into a small tab on the back of the case, creating an easel at the perfect angle for typing. It's stable and very comfortable—I absolutely love this case for typing!

The Apple iPad Case is slim and easy to transport. It's made of a rubber-like material that is durable and won't slip out of your hands. However, it looks to me like it's made from a tire—definitely not a fashion statement! In addition, it doesn't have a place to store my stylus—the two reasons why it's not the case I use.

 

Best Bags

A bag is for iPad owners who want to carry accessories and other personal items with their iPad. Bags come in many styles, colors, sizes, and prices. Here are my choices for the Best Bag category:

Best Style:

iPad Exo SleeveCase

$49-$99, sfbags.com

ExoSleeve1The Exo SleeveCase has a stylish and upscale look and feel. At first glance, it looks like it belongs in the Slipcase section, but its storage capacity makes it a better fit here. The basic case can be customized to suit your tastes, storage needs, and budget. For example, you can choose an orientation (vertical or horizontal), pick a color, add a strap, and purchase an extra Piggyback pouch for more storage. There's room inside the case for an iPad, a pen or stylus, or small notebook. An open pocket on the back holds earphones, cables, and similar items. If you add the optional Piggyback pouch, there's more room for a cell phone, wallet, and other personal items.

The Exo is constructed of lightweight, high-grade neoprene wrapped in a ballistic nylon shell. The foam-lined, shoulder strap is extremely comfortable, and the case is TSA checkpoint friendly. It's available in black with two trim color choices: lead indium or leather.

Best Protection:

Booq's Taipan Shadow XS

$79.95, booqbags.com

ShadowXS1The Shadow XS is compact, lightweight, roomy, and protective. I was not able to examine this bag, but fellow blogger, John Painter, says it's his favorite. "I love my new Booq bag…. It's very heavily padded and no doubt would save your iPad in a drop." The Shadow XS has room for papers, business cards, keys, and iPad accessories while maintaining a minimum exterior size. It's also airport friendly. It's a relatively expensive solution, but according to Painter, "… it's worth the premium."

Best Value:

Kensington Sling Bag

$19.99, us.kensington.com

KensingtonSling1This is my husband, Bill's favorite case. Sling Bag is a roomy, over-the-shoulder bag with an adjustable strap and a well-padded slot for the iPad. As long as it's in the bag, your iPad is well protected from drops, bumps, and scratches, but you'll need another case to protect it when it's out of the bag. Bill keeps his iPad in the Eco-Vue.

In addition to the iPad slot, Sling Bag has an inside zippered pouch for accessories. In between the slot and pouch is room for even more stuff. Bill carries his Kindle, iPad, notebook, cables, and pens inside the bag. The bag also has an outside zippered pouch for items you want to retrieve quickly, such as a cell phone. A tab, attached on the outside, is useful for hanging the bag on a hook. Bill loves his Sling Bag; his only suggestion is that Kensington add a hand strap.

Best Functionality:

Cocoon Innovations Messenger Sling

$29.99, cocooninnovations.com

MessengerSling1The Messenger Sling protects your iPad in a padded interior pouch. The bag also includes "Grid-It," a woven elastic organizer designed to hold pens, a stylus, earphones, flash drives, notepads, business cards, charging cord, small electronics, and other accessories. Customize it any way you like with the woven elastic grids that hold the accessories in place. A pocket on the outside of the bag lets you carry your iPhone or another small electronic device. The pocket has a clear, thin plastic window that provides access to the iPhone's interface without having to remove it from the bag. The Messenger Sling is constructed of ballistic nylon and weighs less than a pound. It's available in black, gun gray, and racing red.

Specialty Cases

These cases perform special functions. Here are my choices for the Best Specialty case category:

Best Grip:

NinjaGrips

$15.00, ninjagrips.com

NinjaGrips1NinjaGrips isn't really a case, but it is a must for "naked" iPads. Crafted from recycled tire rubber, NinjaGrips are thin textured strips that you apply to the back and corners of your iPad. Once in place, they provide extra traction that keeps the iPad from slipping out of your hands. Of the five styles available, I prefer the Tokyo Sunrise as it provides grip in the center of the iPad as well as along the edges. NinjaGrips are self-adhesive. Simply remove the protective backing and attach to the back of your iPad. I removed mine after installing to determine how well it cleans up. They are removed easily and the adhesive cleans off nicely with a little alcohol. Although the backing is rough, it's not scratchy. It's very comfortable on the hands.

Best Waterproof Case:

Trendy Digital WaterGuard Plus

$23.99, trendydigital.com

WaterGuardPlus1WaterGuard Plus is a clear plastic case that protects against water, dust, dirt, and other elements. Simply insert the iPad into a waterproof pocket and close the top. The transparent front window lets you view the iPad's screen and access the touch interface and keyboard. the top of the case rolls down tight and is fastened between two flaps with snap buttons and Velcro. This creates a waterproof seal that protects the iPad in the kitchen, at the beach, around a pool, or on a boat. The 3-ounce case is not bulky and it's very easy to hold. An adjustable carrying cord is included, making it easy to carry the iPad on your shoulder or around your neck. WaterGuard Plus is available in blue or purple.

Best iPad cases... so far!

These are my choices for the Best iPad cases as of July 2010. However, a wise sage once said , "All final decisions are made in a state of mind that is not going to last." I'm sure we'll see plenty of new cases in the moing months. If you ask me about my favorite cases this time next year, you may see some changes!