Brenthaven 5-in-1 iPad Case offers protection, elevation, gription
This two-piece protector doubles as a viewing stand, triples as a typing stand, quadruples as...well, you get the idea. But it's a bit shy of perfection.
Ever since I got my iPad a few months back, I've been looking for the perfect case--which to my thinking was one that not only protected the device but also held it upright for watching movies and whatnot.
The Brenthaven 5-in-1 iPad Case does that and more. Although a few design flaws keep it from achieving perfection, it provides a lot more versatility than most cases.
Let's start with protection. The 5-in-1 consists of a two-sided plastic shell, one of which stays on your iPad at all times. (That "side" is actually two pieces that slide onto the tablet from either end, and while they achieve a snug fit, there's nothing to lock them together. That seems wrong somehow.)
The "cover" side of the case can slide over the back or front of the iPad. When it's covering the front, it does leave a swath of the screen exposed and an open gap along one edge, so the protection here is not total.
When you slide the cover over the back of the iPad, you can slip your hand into a stretchy band at the rear that makes for a more comfortable and secure one-handed grip. Actually, it's not as comfortable as it could be, as the sharp edge of the cover can dig into your palm a bit (depending on how you hold it). That's a minor gripe: I found that I really enjoyed holding the iPad this way, especially for reading.
You can take the cover off altogether and use it as a viewing stand, dropping your iPad into a slot that holds it at a near-perfect viewing angle. However, you can't adjust that angle, even if you need to, and the stand works only for landscape orientation: it can't hold the iPad upright. That's my one big disappointment with the 5-in-1.
If you flip everything around, the cover turns into a typing stand, propping the iPad up at what I found to be a very natural angle for touch-typing. The problem here is that the cover isn't quite secure in this position; it tends to slip out from underneath the iPad. You can make it work, but it just doesn't feel as solid as it should.
Finally, an included seat strap lets you hang the iPad from the back of a car seat (or, passenger permitting, airplane seat). This works well enough, but because there's nothing securing the iPad to the seat, it tends to flop around as the car accelerates, decelerates, turns, etc. The viewer will probably end up holding it in place.
Brenthaven provides instructions on how to attach and use the seat strap, but not for attaching the grip strap, installing the two shell pieces, or using the case in any of its various configurations. I figured everything out eventually, of course, but my issue with the typing stand left me wondering if perhaps there was a different (i.e. better) way to set things up.
The 5-in-1 iPad Case is priced at $59.99, which strikes me as a little steep--but not out of line with some of the other protective gear I've seen. (Heck, Apple's crummy iPad Case is $39.) It's available in matte black and metallic bronze.
While I wish the 5-in-1 was a little better at certain things, it ably accomplishes what I need. See it in action below: