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Pad & Quill Contega for iPad 2 review: Pad & Quill Contega for iPad 2

Pad & Quill Contega for iPad 2

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman

Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a semi-regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

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3 min read

Finding an appropriate case or cover for an iPad is a matter of personal taste. Some prefer the thin vinyl Smart Covers offered by Apple, which provide minimal protection, but also add minimal weight and heft. On the other end of the spectrum is the Pad & Quill cases, which are unapologetically large and solid.

Pen & Quill Contega for iPad 2
8.0

Pad & Quill Contega for iPad 2

The Good

The <b>Pen & Quill Contega</b> is a nearly bulletproof iPad 2 case, and adds new features, such as a Smart Cover magnet and adjustable viewing angles, missing from earlier versions.

The Bad

A slim and lightweight iPad companion, this is not.

The Bottom Line

It's always nice to see a product evolve from generation to generation, and the latest version of Pad & Quill's booklike iPad case is the best yet, and the first we've considered using long term.

The small Minneapolis company machines its cases out of birch and covers the outside with leather, creating a package that, very deliberately, looks like a bound book. We've seen at least three versions of this iPad case since the original iPad was released by Apple last year, and the latest is the $89 Contega.

It's especially pleasing to see a product so clearly evolve over the course of a few short generations. We liked earlier Pad & Quill iPad cases, but with reservations. The original was just too heavy and thick, especially compared with the still-new original iPad, which was thinner and lighter than any tablet we'd seen to date. A second-generation was slimmer and had a better fit for the iPad, but still had a hard-to-use strap-and-snap closure.

But this latest version of the Pad & Quill iPad case, the Contega for iPad 2, is the best yet, and the first we've used continuously on an iPad for weeks on end without feeling the need to swap it out for something else. The case design has shrunk a tiny bit with its revisions, and the current version measures 10.3 inches by 8.1 inches by 0.5 inch thick.

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.

Pen & Quill Contega for iPad 2
8.0

Pad & Quill Contega for iPad 2

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 0