One of the first things most new iPad owners should do is find a case for their new investment. Luckily (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at things) you have a number of options from which to choose. Apple sells a book-jacket-style case, which I purchased along with my iPad. However, my iPad never spent a single second in that jacket because I found it to be extremely flimsy. So I moved on to a neoprene case from Kroo, which I had been using for my Asus netbook for a couple of years. This worked out nicely from a carrying-protection standpoint, but it didn’t offer particularly easy access, so my search continued. The next iPad case I tried was a hard plastic enclosure from Macally. While it did a great job of protecting the back of my iPad from scratches, I still used the neoprene case to protect the touchscreen when carrying it in my bag.
Finally, I have been using Incase’s Convertible Book Jacket for the last couple of months. It was given to me by the company. Of all the cases I have used thus far for my iPad, this is by far my favorite.
Sliding my iPad into the case was not that difficult and my iPad fits snugly in place, with no worries about it accidentally falling out. Once the iPad was in the jacket, I had no problems accessing the screen, "home" button, sync/charging port, or volume controls. I did have a little trouble plugging headphones into the phone jack because of an ill-placed piece of leather that helps secure the iPad within the folio. Had Incase moved the strip over an eighth of an inch, the problem would have been avoided. However, this is a minor gripe and I was ultimately able to plug in the headphones and listen to them without any additional problems. To keep the folio securely closed, there is also an elastic band that you can wrap around it.
The Incase Convertible Book Jacket comes in a variety of colors, but the one I received was black leather. Compared to the other cases I have used, this was by far the most professional looking. The leather has held up well even after being carried around in my briefcase for the last couple of months.
The only thing I have to complain about is that, in just the last week or two, the front flap of the folio has started to warp a bit. I am not sure if this is due to the change in seasons, but this is something I have seen noted in a few other reviews of this case.
The folio does add a bit of bulk to the iPad. By itself, the iPad is about two millimeters thick. With the Convertible Book Jacket, this jumps to roughly 13mm, similar to a thick notebook. I guess this is a small price to pay to have your iPad protected front and back. In addition, I never feel the need to remove my iPad from the folio to reduce the bulk.
After spending several hundred dollars for an iPad, it only makes sense to protect it from everyday wear and tear as well as the hard knocks that it will inevitably experience. The Incase Convertible Book Jacket does just that, for the most part. It protects the iPad both front and back, which allowed me to forgo applying a protective film to the touchscreen. Those more concerned with protecting their iPad from damage due to being dropped, however, probably won’t find the Convertible Book Jacket of much use. While I have no doubt that the Book Jacket case would offer some protection in the event that the whole setup is dropped, there is no noticeable padding that would lead me to believe that the iPad would survive the experience. That being said, Incase doesn’t market the folio as offering that level of protection.
The iPad is an excellent platform for watching videos, but holding it to do so can become a little tedious. However, the Incase Convertible Book Jacket converts (thus its name) into an adjustable viewing stand. When the folio is open, the side holding the iPad has an extra hinge that allows you to pivot the iPad and rest it in one of three grooves on the opposite side. While you don’t have the level of precision you would have with a laptop, the multiple viewing positions should give you enough flexibility. The Convertible Book Jacket has been invaluable for long train rides and transcontinental plane trips.
After using the Incase Convertible Book Jacket with my iPad for the last couple of months, I don’t see myself opting for a new case anytime soon. The folio offers an excellent blend of form and function—providing good protection for your iPad from everyday bumps and scratches, as well as easy hands-free viewing of movies on your iPad. At $60, I think the Incase Convertible Book Jacket is a definite value.
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of "Gadget Corner." All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.