Although I use my iPad 2 everyday, I don’t always carry it with me when I’m out of the house. When I do want to take it along, I usually have to carry a second bag because I don’t want to wedge it in my normal handbag that’s already loaded up with my stuff. I’ve long admired the Sena Borsetta purse/iPad 2 case combination. It’s a folio-style case for the iPad 2 with a front compartment to serve as a minimal purse – just what you need to carry your essentials and your iPad 2 in one compact bag. I was happy to be selected to give it a try when Sena Cases offered one to The Gadgeteer.
Click on the pictures for an enlargement.
Just like all cases made by Sena, the Borsetta is “hand-crafted from the finest quality full grain, genuine leather.” The Borsetta is available in black and red; of course, I requested red. (I’m so predictable.) The leather has a pebbled texture and a matte finish. It measures about 9.6″ long X 7.5″ wide X 1.35″ wide (empty). It weighs about 1.25 pounds when empty. The stitching, done with a color-matched thread, is very even and straight.
The front has a decorative panel made from woven strips of the same leather. These strips have a contrast stitching that adds to the design. The panel has been cut on the diagonal, which gives the front panel an argyle look. It’s very beautiful.
The front has a large (1.5″ X 1″) shiny, gold plaque with the Sena Cases name. All hardware on the bag is the same gold tone.
This front compartment serves as the purse. It closes with a metal zipper with double pulls. The back side of this compartment has a braided strap that keeps the folio case closed.
The braided strap snaps to the back of the Borsetta. There are no pockets here, but there is a cutout for the iPad 2′s camera. There are also two metal D-rings for attaching the included shoulder strap.
The strap is made of a thin, very flexible leather. It has a slightly darker color and a shinier finish than the bag itself. The strap has goldtone metal clips and a metal adjustment buckle. The strap is 0.5″ wide. It adjusts from 44.35″ to 49.5″ long, including the clips. It can be used as a shoulder strap or cross-body strap. You can also hand-carry the Borsetta without the strap.
The interior of the purse compartment is lined with a shiny red fabric. The outside wall of the compartment has pockets for 6 cards, and a full-width pocket behind the cards that can hold currency, receipts, or folded papers. The interior wall has three pen holders, a small Sena logo label, and a phone pocket. There’s also a zippered pocket on this side. There are fabric gussets on both sides to prevent the purse from dropping completely open. It also means you can fit some things in the bottom of the compartment without worry that they’ll fall out. Both sides of the purse compartment are stiffened to protect the contents.
Inside, the folio case is lined in a suede-like fabric. The iPad 2 is held in a leather frame. The spine-side of this frame closes with a Velcro tab to keep the iPad 2 from falling out.
Opposite the iPad frame are two stiffened, leather-covered pieces that serve as a typing stand (the smaller piece) or horizontal stand (bigger piece). These stands snap to the case to keep them out of the way when not in use.
The iPad 2 fits snugly in the leather frame. There are cutouts on the face for the front-facing camera and the home button. I can just barely see the ambient light sensor showing above the front camera, but it seems to be in shadow from the edge of the leather frame. (The ambient light sensor is hard to see. It’s the faint gray, circular smudge just above the front camera. It’s contained in the blue semi-circle.) I don’t use the auto-brightness feature, so this wasn’t a problem for me.
The leather frame doesn’t interfere with using the touchscreen. The home button is also easy to access. There are no magnets in this case, so you can’t sleep/wake your iPad 2 with the cover.
All buttons and connectors are exposed and accessible. The thin profile and curved shape of the iPad 2 does make it a bit difficult to reach some of the buttons, but they are useable. The top has a cutout for the microphone, and the charging cable can be used while the iPad 2 is in the case. The speakers may be a bit muffled by the back of the case, but no more so than with any other case.
The last picture shows the Velcro tab that holds the iPad 2 in the frame.
The back camera lens isn’t centered in the cutout, but the case doesn’t interfere with using the camera.
When you flip the front purse compartment to the back and open up the smaller of the stands, you can use the Borsetta as a typing stand. I found this angle comfortable for typing, and I could still see the screen.
Flip the purse compartment to the back and open up the larger stand, and the Borsetta is a horizontal stand. I like this angle, but YMMV if you are very tall or the tabletop is very low.
There is only one angle for typing and one angle for viewing. Both stands are attached to the case with ribbons to prevent them from opening too far and letting the iPad 2 drop to the table.
The purse compartment had room for everything I carry in my Dooney and Bourke Multi-Function Zip Around wallet that’s my “go-to-lunch” wallet and iPhone case. The card slots are more than big enough to hold a few cards each, and they are much longer than most card slots, so the cards are easily removed. My iPhone 4 in its Bumper Case fit easily inside the phone pocket, and I had room to fit my clip-on sunglasses in their case beside the phone pocket.
I had problems with the pen loops. I don’t use many small pens because they cause my fingers to cramp. Most pens I use have 5/8″ barrels. I couldn’t fit my Levenger pens inside these loops at all. The leftmost pen is a Cross Tech3 multi-function pen; the barrel fit in easily, but I had to force it to fit the bottom of the cap through the loop. The next pen is my Monteverde One-Touch Stylus pen. I was able to fit it in, but I heard a thread snap as I pushed. It also slightly crushed the stiffening in the back of the purse compartment. The rightmost pen is the stylus for my Sony PRS-T1 ebook reader.
The bottom picture shows how having the pens in the pen loops distorts the back of the purse compartment. When I take the pens out, that side of the bag flattens out again. I wish the pen loops were just a bit bigger so I can use them without fear of causing permanent damage to the bag.
I have a large, bulky keyring, but the leather is flexible enough that it can stretch over the keyring if I lay it in the bottom of the purse compartment. I wouldn’t have any trouble fitting it inside if I’d take some of the doodads off the ring.
The zipper pocket isn’t quite the full depth of that side of the bag, but it is deep enough to hold my iPod nano and headphones in their zipper pouch. There’s room in that pocket for extra cards, change, memory sticks, and the like.
The Borsetta adds quite a lot of size and weight to the iPad 2, but I find it pretty easy to hold if I fold the purse section completely back. (I don’t like holding folio cases like an open book, because the weight and the flexible spine combine to make it floppy and hard to manage when I need to use a hand to navigate the touchscreen.) When I read or surf in bed, I usually prop one edge of the iPad 2 on my chest and hold it with one hand. The soft leather and rounded shape is actually much more comfortable propped on my chest than the hard, sharp edge of the iPad 2 itself.
The stands work well for me, and I find that I can even use them to stand the iPad 2 on the mattress beside me when I’m reading in bed. That means I can keep both hands warm under the covers until I need to turn the page; no more frozen ice claws from holding the iPad!
The Borsetta works great when I want to take just the bare necessities – license, card or two, some cash, sunglasses – and my iPad 2 when I’m leaving the house. I no longer need two bags or an iPad case plus my Dooney wallet. I don’t think this bag is out of place with jeans and a sweater, but it is certainly elegant enough for the boardroom, too. It works great for me, but I think it would also work for the business woman who wants to keep her iPad 2 and her personal ID and essentials with her as she goes about her workday. Instead of carrying personal things in the purse, you could throw a charging cable, stylus, wall wart, and other iPad essentials in there and use it as a small briefcase.
The Borsetta is a very beautiful purse that doesn’t scream “iPad inside! Steal me!” Even loaded up, it’s comfortable to carry, especially as a cross-body bag to distribute the weight a bit better. It looks at home running errands or attending business meetings. I love it!