updated 08:55 pm EST, Fri January 28, 2011
Wide range of cases shown in San Francisco
Despite the Mac-focused origins of Macworld Expo, the event is now dominated by companies promoting accessories for iOS devices. MacNN stopped by many of the booths offering the latest iPad cases and other accessories for Apple's popular tablet. Hand-strap cases are a popular item, while extreme users can even pick up a jacket with an integrated case.
ZooGue is currently showing off its self-titled iPad case, which is said to be produced from higher quality materials compared to its predecessor. The front half of the folio-style case can be flipped around to the back, where it can hold the device at various angles. Customers can pick up the accessory directly from the company for $50.
ModulR is one of the companies promoting a modular system that can be converted to suit different needs. The iPad is protected by a simple case, which also integrates four tabs that can be connected to a shoulder strap, wall mounts, hand straps or other options. We also checked out a similar system, produced by Vogel's, that is detailed in a separate report.
Users who want to take advantage of a hardware keyboard may be impressed by Zagg's Zaggmate case, which integrates a Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard and a slot that positions the iPad like a netbook screen. When the keyboard isn't in use, it fits around the face of the iPad for protection. Build quality appears to be top notch, with an aluminum shell surrounding the keyboard and matching the iPad's finish. The Zagg case commands $100, but Kensington and several other companies offer more affordable keyboard cases.
Sleeve 360 and Handeholder both offer cases that integrate a rotating mount with a strap on the back of the iPad. The Sleeve 360 is a plastic case with a hand strap, while the Handeholder attaches via adhesive directly to the back of the tablet. The latter company also offers a leg strap kit, a range of stands and other mounting options that attach to the strap. The Sleeve 360 sells for $50, while the basic Handeholder carries a $40 price tag.
Moshi showed us its latest iPad add-on, the iVisor AG screen protector. The screen-protector category does not include many notable products, but the iVisor AG looks like one of the best options available at the moment. The material only adheres around the bezel, not directly on the screen, which completely eliminates the need to press out bubbles or wait 24 hours for the gas-permeable adhesives to work. The design also allows the protector to be removed and reinstalled repeatedly and quickly.
Rain brought several of its latest products, including the iRest stand designed for using the iPad on a lap or desk. The stand is primarily built from aluminum, while oversized rubber feet are designed for comfort and slip resistance.
We are always impressed with GelaSkins' colorful booth, where the custom cases look like a miniature art gallery. Up close, GelaSkins cases have a noticeable diamond texture that is visible when the light hits the case from an angle. In comparison, SubCostume cases appear to have a completely smooth texture.
A few ridiculous products are always present in the mix, and Alphyn's PADX-1 Ledge Wearcom jacket may be competing for the top spot. The half-zip pullover integrates an iPad-size pouch centered on the front side. When the pouch is unzipped, the iPad conveniently deploys at a perfect angle for hands-free viewing. The tablet could be used for other functions, but the suspension straps might get in the way.
Although DodoCase has not changed the design of its iPad case from last year, it is one of the few iPad accessories manufactured in the US. The case, which resembles a large Moleskine notebook, is hand crafted by San Francisco artisans using "traditional book binding techniques" and bamboo.
The prevalence of iPad products did not come as a surprise, as it is a relatively new device that was released shortly after the 2010 Macworld Expo. We were nonetheless impressed with the extreme variety of offerings, as well as the unique products that aim to expand the iPad's functionality.
ZooGue Case Genius V2
Moshi iVisor AG
Alphyn PADX-1 Ledge Wearcom