A signature STM case evolves for the third-generation iPad. (April 5th, 2012)
Product Manufacturer: STM
- Compact shape
- Tab closure keeps lid secure
- Newly upgraded shell guards most of an iPad's edges
- Sturdy support in typing and display modes
- Minimal protection against impacts
- Closure takes getting used to
- Only two stand positions
- Still exposes iPad's lip
STM may be better known for its bags than its cases, but it is one of a select group of companies making upgraded -- rather than tweaked -- cases for the third-generation iPad. One of the two it's currently selling is the Skinny 3, a mostly straightforward folio design. In our review, we'll see if the case can compete with some of the other folio options on the market.
On a superficial level at least the case actually resembles the SwitchEasy Canvas; a person's iPad snaps into a polycarbonate shell, but with an extra layer wrapping around it, comprising the actual folio part of the equation. As its name implies, the major difference with the Skinny 3 is size. It has a much more compact footprint than a lot of folios, seemingly little bigger than the iPad it's holding. This may be handy for people who want the advantages of a folio but need to jam their iPad into a crowded bag.
It should be noted that as a tradeoff, the Skinny has much less padding, or rather, none. The fabric on the back of the shell is purely cosmetic, and on the lid it wraps around a distinctly thin, hard, unpadded material. There is technically some microsuede lining on the inside, but only enough to prevent an iPad from getting scratched as it jostles around.
The lid turns out to be the Skinny's best feature, but for other reasons. Keeping it shut requires threading a tab through a rather tight loop on the back of the case. Initially this may annoying, since it takes practice to thread the loop quickly, and the on/off magnets in the lid can trigger an iPad repeatedly if you're not careful.
It doesn't take too long to get used to though, and you can be virtually guaranteed that the case won't open accidentally. More importantly, the tab also keeps the lid secure when folding it backward into a typing position. The rigid material in the lid makes for excellent typing support, and it's creased in just the right spot for both typing and propping the case up into a display position. I reguarly use my iPad as a sort of second monitor for RSS feeds, and the Skinny made the tablet feel extremely stable despite my pawing at the screen with multiple fingers.
The one noticeable improvement over the Skinny for the iPad 2 is in the shell. For some reason, STM originally thought it would be wise to leave both the top and bottom of an iPad almost totally exposed. On the Skinny 3 the edges are mostly protected, except for some well-crafted port and button cutouts, and slight exposure of an iPad's lip. The latter could've easily been fixed with a few millimeters more of plastic.
I was initially underwhelmed by the Skinny, yet after a few days of use it felt like a very natural accessory. It's imperfect -- I wouldn't recommend it to people worried about heavy impacts -- but as a barebones folio, it's at least serviceable and arguably a little better than that. It's also just $40, cheaper than some less protective (or even convenient) options. Cases like the Canvas or the Marware EcoVue might be the gold standard, but the Skinny 3 shouldn't be ignored, either.