Portland, Ore.-based Grove makes some really incredible bamboo and maple cases, and recently the company extended its product line to the iPad Air and iPad mini with the new Wood Smart Case. Like most of Grove's products, like my personal favorite from 2013 the US$99 Dock for iPhone, the Wood Smart Case is a unique creature in a world filled with fairly identical plastic cases. Let's take a look, then be sure to fill out our contest-entry form for a chance to win an iPad Air case.
Price: $99 for iPad Air, $79 for iPad mini
Dimensions: 9.69 x 6.81 x 0.5 inches (24.61 x 17.3 x 1.27 cm)
Weight: 5.3 ounces (150.25 grams)
Case materials: Eastern Hardrock Maple, bamboo, felt
My first surprise when I picked up the Wood Smart Case was just how lightweight it is. Unlike other iPad Air cases on the market that also use wood frames, Grove's case also uses strong and lightweight bamboo for the cover. The result is that the company can provide a cover that's extremely lightweight and thin, adding virtually no bulk to the iPad Air. That's the "less filling" I'm talking about in the headline, in case you were wondering.
To make the cover flexible, there are six thin grooves machined through the bamboo. Don't worry; the pieces are all held together by the felt lining that's on the inside of the case to keep your iPad from being scratched by the case.
There is a pair of rare earth magnets in the cover to turn your iPad on or off automatically, and feed-through buttons for the sleep/wake/on/off switch and volume toggles. For all of the other ports -- speakers, headphone, noise-cancellation microphones, camera, Lightning port and mute/orientation lock -- there are nicely machined openings.
Unlike some other cases that are a pain to insert an iPad into, you'll find that the Wood Smart Case is quite amenable to iPad installation. There are three sides to the frame, with one side wide open -- just slide the iPad into the open side and it's held in place by a pair of top and bottom "clips" of wood, as well as by friction.
As one would expect, the magnets do a good job of turning your iPad on and off. The cover acts almost like the door on a roll-top desk, and when it is rolled up, it's supposed to hold your iPad in a propped-up landscape orientation or act to keep it standing straight up in portrait mode. In reality, though, I could never get the cover into the orientation seen at about the 10-second point in the video above. As a result, the landscape "typing mode" was rather iffy. A few times, I was typing away when the entire thing just collapsed. I finally gave up and just used it flat on the table.
So as a case, the Grove Wood Smart Case for iPad Air excels; as a stand, not so much.
For a unique and stylish iPad Air or iPad mini case, the Grove Wood Smart Case certainly fits the bill. The construction of the case is top-notch; it's beautiful; and it protects your device from day-to-day bumps and drops. However, I found the ability to use the case in a propped-up typing mode was compromised.
Rating: 3 out of 4 stars possible
Yes, you can have your very own Grove Wood Smart Case, because we're giving one away. All you need to do is fill out the entry form below, and then wait to see if we contact you as the winner.
Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before January 25 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected and will receive a Grove Wood Smart Case for iPad Air valued at $99