Just a few days ago, we ran a post where Joel covered the unprecedented explosion of the iPad case market. More than any other device in history, the iPad has an entire industry dedicated to cases, bags, stands, and many other variants.
Also, the iPad’s unique intended use (somewhere between a computer and a phone) and its support for additional utility (such as bluetooth keyboards) makes the device particularly susceptible to the development of cases/stands that do more than just protect the glass and aluminum.
Especially since the iPad 2, I’ve noticed that many case-makers are designing cases and covers that have the potential to drastically impact the way you use the device. From Smart Covers to waterproof sleeves, these cases let you take the iPad places you couldn’t before, and do things that were previously reserved for laptop computers. “Surely there can’t be that many of these cases!” I hear you clamor. Well buckle up, because here comes an assortment of useful, unique, and just plain outlandish iPad and iPad 2 cases that can change the way you use your device.
We’ve discussed the Smart Cover before, but it’s definitely worth mentioning in a roundup like this. It protects the screen, wakes/sleeps the device, and even attaches with a fancy magnetic hinge. But how does it affect the way we use the iPad?
I believe the full impact of the innovation behind the Smart Cover has yet to come to fruition, but can be seen manifesting itself in apps like Evernote Peek. The app is simply a flashcard extension of Evernote, but it uses the the magnetic Smart Cover to influence the behavior of the app. I think that we will see more apps start to do things like this in future.
The utility of Apple’s Smart Cover is being implemented in many third party cases. The Marware MicroShell Folio is one such example, with a skin on the back to protected the aluminum back panel, and Marware’s take on the jointed cover. As far as a stand is concerned, the MicroShell Folio provides all of the support options as the original Smart Cover.
Much like with the Smart Covers, the iPad’s support for Bluetooth connected keyboards has spawned a large market of cases with built-in keyboards. My personal favorite (mostly for aesthetic reasons) is the Logitech Keyboard Case by ZAGG.
It’s not so much a case as it is a cover and stand. The aluminum finish makes your iPad look like a small laptop, protecting the screen while brandishing the Apple logo on your device. Pop the iPad out of the cover and set it up in the folding stand, connect the keyboard, and you’re set to write. The keyboard is full sized and includes a row of function keys that mimic volume control, music control, copy/paste, the home button, and the search function.
Another keyboard case worth mentioning is the ClamCase. Different from the ZAGG product above, the ClamCase actually houses your iPad in a plastic, hinged clamshell that swivels and folds to accommodate several styles of use.
It doesn’t support typing in landscape, but you can type in portrait, watch movies at a comfortable viewing angle, and fold the keyboard in back to use the iPad like a normal tablet. The ClamCase also includes all of the same function keys as the ZAGG keyboard.
I can’t condone using the iPad to do things like watch movies or play games while driving, but the RAM Mount Windshield Cradle (and any other of the many styles of mounts they provide) can help you mount your iPad in your car. Particularly useful for using GPS, the RAM mounts come in lockable and enclosed varieties.
The thought of taking my iPad anywhere near water makes me whimper like a terrified schoolgirl, but if you’re the more adventurous type, the Aquapac Whanganui Waterproof Sleeve might be right up your alley.
It guarantees to keep your iPad safe from moisture and dust, making it a good option if you want to take your iPad to the beach, or near a pool. Most impressive, though, is that this case is IPX 8 Submersible (up to 15 feet), meaning you can slip it over your iPad and take it on that snorkeling trip with you.
With the addition of the rear-facing camera to the iPad 2, I’m frankly surprised I haven’t seen more iPad photographers out-and-about. But if photography is your bag, consider the Brando iPad 2 Telescope. This is a hardshell cover for the rear of the iPad 2, with a set of notches surrounding the camera. The included telescope lens can be attached to these notches and (according to the impressive images on the website) dramatically improve the iPad’s built in camera.
The Smart Cover and the keyboard based cases are among my favorites on this list. I seem to have seen a growing number of articles and recounts published elsewhere on the Internet about iPad users conducting experiments to see if they can switch to an all-iPad workflow. The keyboard based cases like the Zaggmate and ClamCase definitely make this a more plausible reality. I have considered conducting such an experiment as a writer here at AppStorm. If I do, perhaps I’ll share my findings with you.
Regardless of whether you go all-iPad or not, though, one thing is certain. The device that we geek out over has not only revolutionized mobile and touch, but also the way third party cases, stands, and accessories have an effect on the utility of the device itself.
Let us know if you’ve had success using any unique or utilitarian cases that I missed here.