By Andrew Liszewski
In my opinion the iPad isn’t quite the ‘magical’ or ‘revolutionary product’ that Apple claims it is. But while I continue to look for a killer app that justifies me carrying it with me wherever I go, I have come to one conclusion about it. A protective case is an absolute must-have accessory. You see the iPad is in essence a laptop computer minus the physical keyboard bit. Which means it can’t be closed when not in use. Which also means the screen is always exposed, just waiting for that day when an errant set of keys or a loose bit of change ends up scratching it while it’s stashed in your bag.
So like so many times in the past, the first place I turn when I need a case that I know will protect my electronic investment is WaterField Designs. Not only do their products look good, but they understand that to some people even the tiniest of scratches is the equivalent to a shattered screen. So their cases are designed to provide sufficient protection while your gear is in transit, while carefully balancing the issue of bulk. Thankfully the company announced a line of iPad cases before the device was even available to the public, and you can find my hands-on look at two of them, the Slip Case and the Suede Jacket, after the jump.
WaterField Designs iPad Slip Case
I rarely leave the house without a backpack or shoulder bag of some sort, and since I carry a small assortment of electronics and accessories wherever I go, I’m always after the most minimal case design for a given device that still provides ample protection so I don’t have to treat my bag like it’s full of TNT. Now obviously the WaterField Designs iPad Slip Case isn’t going to stop a bullet, but the company has found a good balance between protection and minimalism.
To say the iPad fits perfectly in this case is an understatement. It slides in with ease and when it’s all the way inside the case it’s not too buried either, so you don’t have to cram your fingers in there to pull it out. The outside of the case is made with a water-proof material in a selection of five different colors, so were you to accidentally spill something on it, the liquid wouldn’t soak through to the iPad inside. It also makes it easy to clean with a damp cloth.
The inside of the case is lined with a very soft micro-fiber material that not only ensures your iPad isn’t going to get scratched while inside, but with a strategic amount of pressure on the outside of the case, it can also serve to remove fingerprints and smudges while it’s being inserted or removed.
And while the iPad fits perfectly inside the Slip Case, not too snug and not too loose, there’s also a nylon loop on the bottom that provides something to hold onto or tug on while you’re removing it. It’s not a necessary addition by any means, but it still comes in handy.
Finally, while it was kind of difficult to capture it in a photo, one side of the Slip Case actually features a bit of extra padding and a plastic insert that provides added protection for the iPad’s screen. (As long as it’s placed in the case properly that is.) And again, with a little determination you can still easily shatter the iPad’s screen while it’s in the case, but it’s far less likely to happen accidentally while being carried in a bag.
WaterField Designs iPad Suede Jacket
And if you were to consider the Slip Case as being sort of a light jacket for the iPad, not as thick or warm as a coat, but adequate 90% of the time, the WaterField Designs Suede Jacket is more of a windbreaker, or a light sweater. It’s really only going to protect the iPad from nicks and scratches while it’s inside, but the better condition you can keep it in, the more money you can ask for it when you inevitably list it on Craigslist in preparation for next year’s model.
The Suede Jacket is made from Ultrasuede, surprise surprise, and as you can see in this photo the name of the game with this case is thin. There is absolutely no additional protection or padding, so I’d tend to recommend it for use around the house, or in a bag that’s already sufficiently padded.
Now since day one all of my iPhones have literally lived inside WaterField Designs iPhone Suede Jackets, since I could never bring myself to put a naked iPhone in my pants pockets. But unless you’re wearing a trench coat with ample pocket capacity, that’s not really an issue when it comes to the iPad. So like I said, it’s best used in something like a laptop case that’s already padded, or for just lounging around the house. And like with the micro fiber inner lining on the Slip Case, the Suede Jacket also serves as an effective means to polish and clean the iPad’s display.
Because the Suede Jacket is essentially just a couple pieces of suede stitched together, it’s no where near as rigid as the Slip Case is, so inserting the iPad is just a bit trickier. Thankfully WaterField Designs has included a set of small loops/handles on either side of the case’s opening which makes the task just a bit easier. And should you find the fit is just a bit too snug, particularly near the top where the iPad’s screen orientation lock switch can get caught, the Ultrasuede material can be stretched out with just a bit of tugging as needed.
Finally, like with the Slip Case, the Suede Jacket also has a small loop/handle on the bottom making it easier to remove the iPad from the case. It’s a little more essential for the Suede Jacket I think, since the case has a slightly snugger fit than the Slip Case does. I’ll also point out that the Suede Jacket comes with an optional pocket on one side for an extra $6, which can be used to store the sync cable and charging adapter or a pair of headphones.
I bought my iPad from an Apple brick and mortar store and I was quite disappointed with the selection, and prices, of the iPad cases they had in stock. I assume Apple must have an exclusive deal with Incase or something? So while it might mean you’ll have to live without a case for a few days, I highly recommend considering WaterField Designs options instead of what the Apple stores carry. I’ve been a big fan of the company’s products, and their top-notch support, for years now, and while some of their cases and bags are priced at a premium, I think their iPad offerings are priced exactly in line with what Apple is selling, but trust me when I say you’re getting a far better product.
+ High-quality construction throughout. It’s clear WaterField Designs actually cares about their products and their reputation.
+ Small selection of colors.
+ iPad Slip Case outer material is water proof and easy to clean.
+ iPad Suede Jacket comes with an optional pocket for storing the charging/sync cables or a pair of headphones.
+ Both cases are reasonably priced, though I think the iPad Slip Case is the better option given the extra amount of protection it provides.
– iPad Suede Jacket doesn’t provide much shock protection.
– iPad can’t be used while inside either case.
If you have any questions about the WaterField Designs iPad cases you’d like answered, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to respond to them as best I can.