Quest for the Perfect iPad 2 Notebook Case

News / Sunday, November 27th, 2011

From DODOcase to Portenzo to Pad & Quill–which of these cases is the best? Well, I think I've finally found the best notebook-style case for my iPad 2 after having lived with each of the most popular traditional book-binding notebook-style case manufacturers and I'm ready to crown a king.

When I bought my first iPad, after some trials with the Apple case and a few others, I happened upon a blog article and some videos about the DODOcase which was among the first to provide a traditional notebook-style case for the iPad. Moleskine notebooks were very popular at the time (and still are) and this was a nice way of combining old-school looks and a bit of camouflage with the new-school technology of tablet computing that was the iPad.

My first case wore well but the friction hold always seemed suspect and soon suffered from corner grips that lost their adhesive quality. Shortly thereafter, the bamboo frame began to warp and ultimately one of the corners broke off. I really enjoyed the case and thought well enough of it to buy another for my iPad 2.

The iPad 2 case seems to fit the new device more snugly than the original iPad case fit the old and the adhesive on the wraparound corner material adheres better than the original case but the cover suffers from a gap between the bamboo and the cover that I find unacceptable–especially when the competition does not have the same sizing issue. It's almost as if the cover is a quarter inch too big for the frame and the cover either bows or slides quite a bit back and forth when closed on the iPad. Aside from this, the case is slim and quite handsome. DODOcase remains among the most popular of the notebook cases and they remain a favorite because they were first and have a really good story.

Given my frustrations with the DODOcase, I decided to give Portenzo a try. I found the case to be of excellent quality and craftsmanship and a step up from what was offered by DODOcase. The customization options were better for the same price and included a variety of exterior case colors and designs in addition to customizable interior colors, materials and wood frame selection.

Among other enhancements offered by Portenzo was better iPad protection with a wooden frame that covered the top and bottom of the device and provided cutouts to access ports and buttons where much of the iPad was exposed by the DODOcase and subject to scratches along the top and bottom edges. The Portenzo also had a sound chamber to enhance the iPad's speaker volume and provided the option of a camera hole so that you didn't have to remove the device from the case to take pictures or shoot video.

In terms of fit and finish, the case was just as slim as the DODOcase and the cover fit perfectly with no gap whatsoever between the spine and wooden frame. The corner design was better with no glued corner grips and a much cleaner design was utilized to secure the device. Even the wood finish seemed smoother and the side view showcased a woodgrain pattern that simulated book pages at first glance.

Still, the Portenzo had it's faults and it wasn't long before the upper right corner–the weakest corner for most of these cases as it's the thinnest place given the cutout patterns and structurally an area of concern based on the placement of the iPad's power button–splintered a bit and failed to hold the iPad securely at this pivotal corner. This was the same corner that broke on my DODOcase. If it weren't for this corner and its inability to continue to hold my iPad 2 securely, I would still be using my Portenzo.

So, instead of buying another Portenzo, I decided to give the Pad & Quill a try. Like Portenzo, several customization options are available and Pad & Quill even offers some unique styles that allow you to display the iPad at different angles or add an internal pocket. The Pad & Quill is the thinnest of all the cases but is also the longest and widest but only by about a quarter inch which seems like a lot when you compare the three wooden frames on each of the notebook cases.

The reason for the more substantial frame is that Pad & Quill seems to recognize better than DODOcase or Portenzo that the frame's strength and durability is tied to the robustness of the wood used to hold the iPad in place. The design used to secure the device is similar to that used by Portenzo with device frame coverage, cutouts, sound chamber, and camera access being similarly designed and executed. The book binding technique is the most traditional of all while including some even nicer enhancements than Portenzo like the cloth spine lining and a bookmark ribbon.

Given the Pad & Quill attention to detail where all of the DODOcase shortcomings are overcome and Portenzo enhancements are taken yet another step further, Pad & Quill has my vote for best notebook-style case. I have no doubt that this case will last until the iPad 3 is released and I'm on the hunt for hopefully an even thinner case with the kind of quality and durability that I've come to expect from my experience with several of the top notebook-style cases.

UPDATE: I neglected to mention one of the biggest selling points of the Pad & Quill case versus DODOcase and Portenzo. All of these cases are handmade in America; however, both the DODOcase and Portenzo took several weeks to arrive whereas I had my Pad & Quill within seven days which included the Thanksgiving weekend. Outstanding delivery for a superior product is another reason why Pad & Quill tops my list. What about Treegloo? Fugetaboutit. I placed an order and waited for over eight weeks and finally had to cancel because I got tired of waiting. Quality, reliability, value, service: Pad & Quill is the current king of the hill.

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