Each iteration of Marware’s SportShell Convertible over the years has seen a new twist on the product, continually redefining the functionality of the multi-function case. Now the company takes its first shot at an iPad version of the SportShell Convertible, after years of revving it for iPod and iPhone, and the results are a mix of common sense features and ones you never saw coming.
The case consists of a hard black plastic shell, but with a giant hole in the back. As it turns out, it comes with two different back-piece inserts. One is black plastic and matches the rest of the case. The other is clear hard plastic which allows most of the back of your iPad to remain visible to the world. But it turns out there’s more going on, as you can slip a photo in behind the clear plastic. Didn’t see that coming, did you? I’m not sure how many people will use such a feature, but it actually works without hassle.
The meat of the features, however, come by way of the four kick-out legs. The two smaller ones on the right can be used to slightly elevate a laid-flat iPad for typing purposes, while the two larger legs on the left can be used to set up the iPad as if it were a picture frame. And an included elastic handstrap can be connected to notches under the legs on either the right or left side, which is good news for left-handers and those who simply like to switch off which hand they hold their iPad with.
The less appealing news regarding the legs is that because they’re not of uniform length, they can only be used to let you type in landscape mode (bad news for those who prefer the smaller keyboard of portrait mode), and alternately, they can only be used to stand the iPad up in portrait mode. Another annoyance is that the iPad’s mute switch (or orientation lock switch, if you haven’t yet updated to iOS 4.2.1) is more difficult to access than it should be, thanks to a too-tight cut out around that particular area. All the iPad’s other ports and controls, however, are easily accessible.
The bottom line on Marware’s SportShell Convertible for iPad is that even though it’s not perfect, it’s well done and comes with a bunch of built-in flexibility. But you can get yourself a simple hard plastic iPad shell case for a lot less than $59, meaning that the SportShell Convertible is only going to be worth its price tag to you if you plan to take advantage of at least some of its various features.
rating: four stars out of five • Price: $59 • Marware.com
Speck is a very well-known brand for their fantastic cases, and I am pleased to say that the Fitted case sample I got from them is no disappointment.
The Fitted case is a simple two-piece snap-on case with a fabric like material that covers the back of the hard shell case. The case itself is the easiest thing to apply on the device – place the phone in the back piece and then snap on the front piece until it’s securely in place. Taking it off is easy as well (and you’ll need to for cleaning every now and then) – just get in between the space for the two halves and gently pull them apart, it can’t be any simpler.
The case itself is lightweight and thin, at least to me. It adds a little bit of thickness in order to protect the device from bumps and drops, but it’s not enough to the point where it’s too much.
It leaves a large space open on the side for the volume buttons and the ringer switch. It leaves enough space so that the user won’t have to dig into a small space to get to the ringer switch.
The headphone port and power button openings are cut perfectly and leave plenty of space to get accessed. The camera and flash openings are also precise, which show that Speck has taken their time to get every single measurement right for this case.
The thing I like most about this case is that the bottom is left open so any of the older iPhone/iPod cables can fit with the iPhone 4. This is a great thing because since the new iPhone 4 cable is a bit smaller than the old ones, older cables will not work with the phone when it’s in something like the Apple Bumper case, which is specifically tailored for the new, smaller cable. So since this case has an open bottom, I can continue to use it with my older car charger and any older cables.
Overall, I will say that this is another one of my favorites out of the iPhone 4 cases currently available. It adds enough to protect the device, give it a good grip, and be stylish with a fabric, patterned back, all while being lightweight with an easy application and removing process. The only minor problem I have with the case is that dust can collect around the edges of the screen where the case is. But with the easy removal process, it can be wiped clean in a snap.
rating: 4.5 stars out of five • $29 • SpeckProducts.com
The side-hinged idox swings open to about 300 degrees and doubles as an iPhone stand, the nice part being that since the iPhone is already snapped into the idox, all you have to do is unhinge it, flip it open, and set it down, and you’re instantly watching a movie on your iPhone while trapped on an airplane (despite the substantial nature of the product, you should have no trouble slipping it into your pocket).
So what’s not to like? It’s not the easiest case to open, as I had to put a minor amount of effort into doing so, but I can live with that as a tradeoff for it not easily opening by accident even during strenuous travel. What makes less sense for a heavy duty case is the fact that the iPhone’s top and bottom surfaces are exposed when closed inside the idox – which leaves both the iPhone’s ports exposed. Why the company didn’t just extend the plastic an extra fraction of an inch to protect the iPhone fully, I have no idea. The final concern, which will matter to some of you but not others, is that you can‘t use it as an upright stand, only horizontal, which in fairness is the way all iPhone video is oriented anyway.
But that aside, this is a sturdy product that offers a much better chance of keeping your iPhone in one piece during heavy travel than a typical case would. Comes in a choice of black, platinum (silver), and pink. Also available for iPod touch and nano.
Learn more about the Traveler Series at idox360.com
The iFrogz Luxe is a simple 2-piece snap on case that consists of a clear plastic shell for the top half of the nano with a rubberized bottom half for the scroll wheel and video camera on the back. The two pieces slide into each other until it snaps closed, so installing it on your device is easy enough. Removal is just as easy – pushing the black piece down will allow the clear piece to slide right off.
The design of the case is meant to keep it simple – clear on the top to keep out of your way, and rubberized grip on the bottom where your hands will be to control it. The rubber has a soft-to-the-touch feel, but it won’t get dust and lint stuck in its grip, so it’s pocket-safe. Both pieces allow for access to all ports without having to take the case off, so the iPod can be synced or docked, though the case will add some bulk to the device so for speakers and other peripherals, it may need to come off.
The only cons with this case is that the clear plastic will show scuffs easily and there is also no built-in protection for the screen. The Frost version of the Luxe will disguise the scuffs a bit more than the clear plastic. As far as leaving the screen exposed, dust particles can be getting stuck on the screen constantly, and even sneak under the edges of the plastic. So be wary.
Overall though, the Luxe (and Luxe Frost) is a simple case that provides decent protection from everyday wear-n-tear, and it’s stable enough for drops with the secure sliding enclosure lock.