What's the iPad 2's best case scenario?

Even with the Smart Cover, finding a perfect case for the iPad 2 isn't as easy as it seems.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR | Gaming | Metaverse technologies | Wearable tech | Tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
2 min read
Smart Cover plus back skin: the best way to go?
Smart Cover plus back skin: the best way to go? Scott Stein/CNET

After hunting with surprising difficulty last week, I finally ended up upgrading to an iPad 2. As for my old iPad, I packed it up and resold it. Along with it, I sent along some of my favorite cases, since they'll no longer be of use anymore.

Which brings me to my current conundrum. While I'm happy with the improved zippiness of the iPad 2, I'm not as thrilled with its case options thus far.

I played with a number of cases and bags for the original iPad, trying to find the best fit. For me, it was almost always a no-brainer: Apple's own microfiber case turned out to offer the best protection and feel, while offering a slim profile.

With the iPad 2, it's a different story. Like many others, I'm sure, I ended up buying a Smart Cover. It's hard to resist if you've already plunked down the cash for the iPad 2, and it has a flexible feature set, along with its unique ability to turn the iPad 2 on and off.

But, it's not a protective case at all. Far from it: the iPad 2's metal back is exposed, and barely any protection is afforded to the chassis at all. I'd rather not scratch it up or risk abrasion.

iPad 2 case roundup (photos)

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The solution? Hard to say at this point. While a good number of dedicated iPad 2 cases are out there, many don't support the Smart Cover. The Targus 360-degree Rotating Stand case I've played with has a nice profile and good padding, but that Smart Cover has to come off.

While I hated the idea of "iPad skins" with last-generation models, there's something to be said about the idea now. BodyGuardz is one of several companies making adhesive scratch-guards. Their Carbon Fiber Armor isn't made of carbon fiber: rather, it's crosshatch-patterned nylon. What it does--protect the back from scratches--seems to complement the smart cover perfectly. Is Smart Cover plus skin the ideal solution?

The back skin's unobtrusive, but its fit isn't perfect.
The back skin's unobtrusive, but its fit isn't perfect.

So far, it's not bad. The skin attached fairly easily to the back of my iPad 2. While it arguably makes the iPad 2 a bit uglier, it makes the tablet a lot easier to handle and gives a slip-resistant grip. The magnetic Smart Cover still attaches well through the skin.

Yet, I keep feeling the urge to take it off. It's my instinct against decals. The skin's thin enough that my iPad 2 can still fit into other cases, even with it on: at least, that was the case when I put it back in the Targus.

Maybe the answer is to keep this thin skin, and put it in an iPad bag at other times. Booq's Cobra Courier XS bag has a notably furry side pocket with ample protection. I've been trying one out, and the fit seems solid. Then, of course, you need to deal with iPad bag fashion, which is a struggle in its own right.

Have you found the best case scenario for your iPad 2?