There are two major improvements to the design. First, it has a Smart-Cover-compatible magnet in the cover, which turns the iPad off and on, just as Apple's cover does. Second, the front panel now includes two long vertical grooves, which allow the case to stand at two different angles when rotated horizontally (as one would for video playback, for example).
We've seen plenty of iPad cases that can lock open at various angles, so it would be hard to justify not adding that feature at this point. The two preselected angles formed by the grooves are fine for stand-up casual use on a table, but we would have liked to see an option for propping up the iPad just slightly for typing, as the Apple Smart Cover does when folded up.
Another minor improvement from the original Pad & Quill case is the move from a hard-to-close metal snap on the side edge of the case to an elastic strap, similar to what one would find on a moleskin notebook. It's easier to use and looks nicer, but you'll have to be careful not to cover the drilled-out hole for the iPad's rear camera with the strap, which can happen if you're not paying attention.
The squared-off booklike look and feel of the iPad when using this case is certainly far from the slim, slightly rounded iPad design aesthetic, and we've experienced mixed reactions from coworkers who have seen and tried it; some strongly like the idea, others don't. For pure protection, we haven't seen an iPad case this strong and sturdy (nor this upscale-looking), but there is an inevitable trade-off in terms of portability, which may matter more or less depending on what your travel priorities are.