Thursday June 14, 2012 4:21 pm
iPad Smart Case review
This week Apple released the iPad Smart Case, a polyurethane product that covers and protects both the front and back of the the iPad shell. Compatible with both the iPad 2 and the new third-generation iPad, this is the first full case that Apple has offered for its popular tablet, and it's being sold for $49. The Smart Case seems to make a lot of sense in theory, but how does it fare in practice? Read on as we answer that question in our iPad Smart Case review.
The Smart Case comes in standard plastic packaging, which means there's no way to really get a feel for how it will work until you pay for it and take it out of the box (unless you happen to know someone who already own one.) Once we took it out, we were a bit underwhelmed. The Smart Cover just feels like a cheap accessory that we were surprised was made by Apple itself. It certainly doesn't feel like a premium product.
USING THE SMART CASE
To use the case, you simply push the iPad into the casing. It requires a bit of force to get each corner snapped in, which offers a bit of peace of mind when you realize that the iPad is certainly in there pretty tight. Oddly though, even though the iPad is held securely in the Smart Case--and it's pretty hard to get the thing back out--there's still some space between the side of the iPad and the Smart Case itself. This makes things just feel awkward in an annoying way.
Even worse? There's a weird lip around the entire perimeter of the Smart Case as well, which just makes it even more awkward to hold, and gives artificial bulk that simply isn't necessary. This also makes it harder to open up the Smart Case as well. You'll typically end up resorting to sliding your fingernail under the cover in an attempt to open it up. That's when you have the iPad face-up.
Gallery: Apple iPad Smart Case
You'll want to make sure the iPad isn't turned face-down though. Why? Because the Smart Case will open up on its own. We thought this thing was going to be just like the Smart Cover, but with rear protection, but that isn't the case at all. While the Smart Cover uses magnets to stick to the front of the iPad, the Smart Case does not. This is because of the odd perimeter lip!
Even if that was forgiveable, the other ports don't even seem to be lined up correctly. The headphone jack is partially covered by the case. The dock port has the same issue. The mute switch is hard to operate due to the fit of the Smart Case as well.
Lastly, you would expect that the tri-fold cover would work the same when you use it as a stand. Laying it down in typing mode is fine, but standing the iPad up is almost like stacking a house of cards. It really does feel like the tablet will fall at any given moment, and that isn't a feeling that allows you to relax and enjoy whatever content it is that you want to watch.
When Apple announced the iPad Smart Case, we were excited about giving it a try. The Smart Cover was a great product, and the Smart Case is just $10 more and adds rear protection. The problem is that with the extra protection comes a whole lot of frustration as well. Things simply don't fit, ports are obscured, it doesn't stand up reliably, and the cover is difficult to open--something that should be easy for the user to do. With all of these problems, there's no way we can recommend the iPad Smart Case. Stick with the Smart Cover, and if you want rear protection, grab an Incipio Ultralight Hard Shell Case for half the price. That said, if you really want to, you can grab the iPad Smart Case for $50 from the Apple Store.
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