By Andrew Liszewski
Unless we’ve been completely misled by Apple’s PR minions and the invite they sent out for tomorrow’s event, there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be getting our first look at the next generation iPad on Wednesday. Which of course means that Craigslist will soon be flooded with a never-ending supply of used first generation iPads, priced to move to help pay for someone’s new toy. So if you’re lucky enough to score a real deal from someone desperate to unload theirs, why not splurge and pick up a nice case?
Speck is well known for their extensive lineup of cases for almost every gadget you can think of, but today we’re going to take a look at two of their offerings for the current generation Apple iPad, the CandyShell Wrap and the DustJacket. Both provide a considerable more amount of protection for your tablet than Apple’s own case offers, and at least in my opinion, they both look a lot nicer too. More after the jump.
We’ll start with the CandyShell Wrap which I’m going to assume got its name thanks to the glossy finish on the top and bottom which unfortunately doesn’t really show up in this photo. But take my word for it, it’s shiny. Of the two iPad Speck cases I had the chance to look at it’s definitely the more svelte offering, adding a minimal amount of bulk to the iPad while providing loads more protection than if you were to carry it naked.
While you still have access to the important ports you need while the iPad is in the CandyShell Wrap case, as well as the mute switch, the volume and lock buttons are protected under a set of soft rubber push-through buttons. I’m not entirely sure it’s necessary given the case doesn’t claim to be weather resistant or anything like that, but I guess the less holes they have to put around the border of the case the stronger and more protective it will be.
The iPad’s display is protected by a hard flap that can be flipped around when actually using the iPad so it’s not in the way. And on the inside of the flap there’s a thin layer of rubber that’s not only designed to protect the display, but provide an added level of shock absorption if you happen to drop it. The only quibble I have is that the flap doesn’t have any kind of locking mechanism, so it’s never held shut on its own. I know Apple’s doesn’t either, but I found that the flap on this case had the tendency to fall open on its own when carried if I wasn’t deliberately holding it shut.
But since the flap is segmented into 3 foldable sections, with a little bit of rudimentary origami it can be turned into a convenient stand when flipped around, facilitating a lazy evening in bed watching videos. That’s pretty much the only angle or orientation you can use it in, but it’s better than nothing I suppose.
And since no one likes to have to remove their toys from their protective cases just to use other accessories, the CandyShell Wrap features a sizable access panel on the back for the dock connector so you can use the iPad with accessories that require it to be docked. And unlike the hard flap on the front, this access panel snaps shut and definitely won’t pop open on its own.
The second case we’ll look at is what Speck calls their DustJacket which I think looks a bit better than the CandyShell Wrap, but the tradeoff is that it ends up adding a bit of extra bulk to the iPad. When closed the outer fabric finish makes the DustJacket almost look like the binder I carried in high school, but the insides are far more entertaining than the flip books and incomprehensible notes I hauled around back then. (Well maybe not the flip books.)
Unlike the CandyShell Wrap which tries to protect the iPad all the way around while it’s inside, the DustJacket features extensive cutouts around the perimeter providing easy access to all the buttons and ports. It still manages to securely hold the iPad in place of course (almost to a fault) but the tradeoff is that it provides slightly less protection.
And instead of soft rubber the inside of the DustJacket, at least the flap that touches the iPad’s screen, is covered in a micro-fleece material which should keep it extra safe when the flap is closed. Like the CandyShell Wrap the flap doesn’t snap closed or feature a locking mechanism either, but since it’s not segmented I’ve found it less likely to flop open on its own when being carried. And on the inside edge of the flap you’ll also find a series of 5 indents that aren’t just there for decoration.
The plastic housing that actually holds the iPad is attached to the rest of the DustJacket case with a plastic hinge, allowing you to prop it up to 5 different angles using these notches. And given the large footprint of the flap, in this position the DustJacket is also far less prone to falling over compared to using the CandyShell Wrap’s built-in stand design.
Finally, like most iPad cases that feature a front flap, the DustJacket’s cover can be flipped all the way around behind it, though with a slight angle that facilitates typing with the on-screen keyboard when it’s sitting on a desk.
While both of these cases are slightly more expensive than Apple’s own $39 iPad case, I’ve never really been impressed with its design or its matte-finish which gets dirty and scratched quite easily. So I tend to recommend other case solutions to people when asked. Both of these Speck cases are great alternatives, though I have to point out that inserting and removing your iPad can be a bit of an ordeal, even when following the included instructions. It’s not that easy, particularly if you’re worried about using too much force in the process. On the one hand it means the chances of the iPad accidentally falling out are nigh impossible, but on the other if you want to switch cases often, you’re in for some prying and finagling.
That being said, if a case design that adds minimal bulk with maximum protection is high on your priority list, the CandyShell Wrap case might be right up your alley. But if you’d prefer something a bit less glossy and ‘candy-like’ the DustJacket is a nice alternative, though just be prepared to deal with a bit more bulk thanks to its plastic hinge design on the inside.
+ Both cases are well-made to precise dimensions and standards to ensure a snug, safe fit.
+ Both do an ample job of protecting the iPad from day to day bumps and other incidents.
+ Both double as hands-free stands for propping the iPad up.
– At $59.95 and $49.95 both are slightly more expensive than Apple’s iPad case.
– Both can be a bit tricky when it comes to inserting and removing the iPad, though you tend to get the hang of it after a few attempts.
– The cover on the CandyShell Wrap tends to fall open on its own given its segmented, folding design.
– The overall design of the DustJacket adds a little bulk to the iPad.
If you have any questions about the Speck 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.