The release last year of the iPad mini resulted in many accessory manufacturers scrambling to redesign full-size iPad cases for the smaller footprint of the mini, and now we're seeing the fruits of their labors. Case manufacturer Portenzo recently released both the Alano (starting at US$99.95) and Boomerang (starting at $69.95) iPad mini cases. Check out the review of these two cases, and then stick around to have a chance to win one.
Both the Alano and the Boomerang share a number of design features that I'll cover shortly. The big difference is in the exterior treatment. For the Alano, it's a leather cover made from what appears to be stiff boot leather -- the version I received for testing is called the Indiana Journal (possibly because it looks like something Indiana Jones would carry with him on his journeys), which has a price tag starting at $119.90. The Boomerang uses a whimsical and fun retro 50's boomerang pattern done in bookbinding linen -- I think the Jetsons might approve.
On the inside, both of the units are virtually identical. There's a laminated wood frame that holds the iPad mini in place. That frame is not as nicely made or finished as the one on the inside of the beautiful Pad and Quill Aria iPad mini case ($89.99) reviewed earlier this month, but it does the job. One thing I initially thought to be very odd is that the Portenzo frame does not include a cutout for the on/off/sleep/wake switch on the top of the iPad mini. However, there's a clever solution to turning the iPad on and off -- you simply push down on the front of the top right corner of your iPad, and that bumps the switch up against an internal wedge that pushes it down. Brilliant idea!
There's an optional ($9.95) cutout on the left side of the frame that includes an elastic loop for holding a stylus, as well as cutouts in the proper places for the speakers, Lightning port, volume toggle and orientation lock, and headphone jack. The cover, when open and closed, turns the mini on and off.
The case itself can fold to stand up in landscape orientation -- the Intellistand option ($19.95) uses two very powerful magnets to prop up the stand without the need for flaps or Velcro, another impressive option that's different from most other manufacturers. Finally, there's an elastic band to hold the cover securely in place when in transit and protect the rear-facing camera. Oh, if you want an opening for that camera to look out of? It'll cost you $4.95.
The Portenzo cases work quite well, and I must admit that I find their "push to turn on" design feature to be something I'd like every manufacturer to consider. Hopefully, Portenzo has patented that feature so they can license it to others to adopt and pull in some royalties. In addition, the magnetic Intellistand option is quite nice, although it only works in one orientation. The powerful magnets provide a way to keep the stand steady or keep the frame stuck to the back of the case without resorting to the usual "cheap" method of slapping Velcro everywhere.
Likewise, the stylus cutout is a nice feature for those who use styluses. It works with a variety of readily-available styluses, although some of the larger ones like the Pogo Connect are a bit too wide to allow the cover of the case to close properly.
If I have one complaint about the Portenzo cases, it's that all of the really nice features are add-ons. It's like buying a car with a nice low base price, and then finding out that you add another 30 percent to the price tag to add necessary options. In this case, the Alano Indiana Journal case starts at an already pricy $119.90. By the time you add in the Intellistand, Stylus Compartment, and Camera Opening options, the price tag jumps to $154.75 -- a lot for an iPad mini case, even one that is nicely designed.
Portenzo's Alano and Boomerang cases are lovely to look at and use, with some optional features that really increase their utility. However, the pricing structure for these cases makes them quite a bit more expensive than the competition.
Nice design, and the Boomerang has a fun retro material that harkens back to the 50's
The push-to-turn-on feature of both cases is a unique way to turn an iPad mini on and off without the need for a cutout or pass-through button
Optional Intellistand works very well
Both designs use cover magnets to turn the mini on and off automatically
Expensive when compared to competing products, especially when adding multiple options
Laminated wood frame holding the iPad mini isn't as well made as that found on competitors
Interior of the Alano Indiana Journal case is unfinished and rough
Who is it for?
iPad mini owners who want the ultimate in case utility and who are willing to pay a premium for extra features
We have one Portenzo Alano Indiana Journal and one Portenzo Boomerang iPad mini case to give away! 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 March 25, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
You may enter only once.
Two winners will be selected. One will receive a Portenzo Alano Indiana Journal iPad mini case valued at $154.75, while the other receives a Portenzo Boomerang iPad mini case valued at $104.80.