When Apple first announced the iPad, my first reaction was one I know many people had: “It’s just a big iPod Touch!”.   From a technical standpoint, that description is accurate.   The larger size and screen and addition of the 3G antenna are about the only real differences between the iPad and Apple’s latest iPod.   But I dismissed the iPad without actually trying it out, and that was a mistake.   I have found that for me, the increase in size relates to an exponential increase in usefulness.

My first priority when owning a piece of technology is to protect it from damage. These things can be expensive, and I really want a device to last a long as possible.   I tend to be very protective of stuff I buy for the most part, and so I put cases on everything.  My phone has a case; my iPod has a case.   I really like finding cheap and effective ways of protecting stuff that don’t interfere with the aesthetics or usability.    The iPad has an ultra-slim, sleek profile that really doesn’t want to be covered up.  So my priority was finding a way to protect the device without sacrificing portability or function.

There are hundreds of iPad cases for sale right now.  Some are merely protective, while others attempt to improve the ease of use of the iPad.    After days of research, I finally settled on the Cyber Acoustics IC-1000BK Leather iPad case/cover.

At $39.99 it’s an average price for an iPad case, and a good value for a leather cover.  The case has the look and feel of a professional day-planner when closed.  The inside of the case is lined with a felt-like material which provides padding and protects the iPad’s screen from scratches.

It’s obvious that Cyber Acoustics worked hard to create a case that didn’t cover up the iPad.  They really wanted to secure the device while letting the design show through.   It’s the clever retention “clip” that pulls this off.

The clear plastic retention clip is made of a semi-flexible material, like stiff silicone, and is sewn into the inside rear cover of the case.

The iPad is inserted into the clip by seating it in either the top or bottom clips, then bending back the other two corners to secure it.

The semi-softness of the clip corners makes inserting or removing the iPad very easy, yet the fact that the entire clip is a single piece will prevent the iPad from falling out of the case accidentally.  Turning the case upside down actually causes the corners to grip the iPad more securely.   The low-profile design of the corners allows the various buttons and ports on the side of the iPad to be easily accessed.   Another advantage of such a minimal restraint system is that while in the case, the iPad is easier to keep clean and free of dust.  Many iPad cases feature wide borders that cover the frame of the iPad.   While this does protect the surface of the iPad a bit more, it can make touching the edges of the touchscreen more awkward, and tends to trap dust.

Other features of the Cyber Acoustics case include elastic corner straps that can be used to secure the case closed.

By folding the front cover behind the case, the elastic straps can be reversed to secure the case open.  The corner clips help keep the elastic straps from slipping off the case as well.

As you can see in the first picture above, there is a vertical crease down the left side of the case cover.  By folding the cover behind the case and bending at the crease, the cover can be inserted into a tab on the back, creating a wedge shape which can be used to angle the iPad for easy typing, or to prop the device up for viewing video.

Also of note is the wide vertical elastic band on the inside cover.  When the cover is folded behind the case, the band can serve as a hand strap to make holding the iPad with one hand much easier.   The band also works well for storing a micro-fiber cleaning cloth.

Overall, the Cyber Acoustics Leather iPad case is a great way to protect the iPad.  The unique restraint system keeps the device safe, while the versatile cover flap makes typing and watching video much more comfortable.  Highly recommended.

It is worth noting that this case borrows a couple of features from Apple’s official iPad case, namely the creased cover and rear tab for converting the case into a stand.  But Apple’s case is made of a thick inexpensive vinyl-like material (lined with microfiber on the inside for protection).  The separate pieces of the Apple case were “melted” together at the edge, forming a very sharp, uncomfortable seam that runs around the perimeter of the case, exactly where you would rest your fingers while using it.    While such a design does serve to offer almost total surface protection for the iPad, Apple’s choice of materials and construction method make the case ugly and uncomfortable to use–a surprising decision from a company that is well known for elegant design.

Click the image below for a few more pictures.

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