When the Apple iPad was released many of the makers of iPod cases had to scramble to redesign their offerings for the new larger multi-touch device. This was because Apple did not release the final specs of the iPad ahead of time to any of the accessories vendors. We knew there would be a deluge of skins, sleeves, and covers all clamoring to be reviewed shortly after the launch. Since we have limited personnel, we have to be very selective in our choice of covers to review. For skin-tight scratch protection, the obvious pick was the InvisibleShield. For travel protection, we opted for the Vaja iVolution. We liked the two-piece design because it gave us the option of going with either the front or rear cover when a thinner profile was desired. A few readers asked what would be our choice for a one-piece design. Today, readers will get a FirstLook at our recommendation.
Piel Frama got their start in manufacturing leather covers for gadgets with mobile phones in 1984, but have been a maker of leather goods since the Forties. They purchase their leather locally in Spain so they can hand select for quality. To ensure the high standards of their products, the company currently employs over 150 skilled craftsmen and makes all of the cases by hand. They use environmentally responsible tanning and gluing processes in the making of all of their products.
Piel Frama got points and made a positive first impression even before we saw the cover. The Piel Frama case came packaged in a high quality box. The wrapping around the cover was a heavy-weight paper embossed with the company’s logo in gold. It gave us the feeling that we were unwrapping a luxury item. Like the unboxing of any Apple product, the added touches made seeing the cover for the first time more of an event. We have always appreciated these efforts from companies who care about such things.
As for the case itself, the quality of the materials, stitching, and attention to detail is clearly evident. Close examination of all of the typically difficult places (corners, edges, openings) reveal nothing but fine craftsmanship. We know the fine stitching will last because instead of cotton threads, Piel Frama craftsmen use the much more durable 100% polyester threads made by Gutermann of Germany. While the importance of this may not be readily evident now, it will be appreciated a few years down the road.
The case is offered in a traditional snap closure or the more convenient magnetic closure. We opted for the magnetic closure because we like the cleaner lines and less cluttered look. The inside of the case is leather-lined and embossed with the Piel Frama name. It makes a nice diagonal pattern and is pleasant to the touch. On the back of the front cover is a slip pocket for papers and other other thin items (money, tickets, etc…).
Unlike other iPad covers, the Piel Frama does not use any velcro strips or elastic bands for securing the iPad. The iPad slips in from one side and is held in a pocket. Note the fit of the ipad and the alignment of the openings. The strategically placed port openings on all three sides line up perfectly. Access to all the sockets, ports, and buttons is available whether the cover is open or closed.
One of the benefits of an attached cover is it can form a stand. When the cover is open and oriented horizontally, the case will stand upright. This is convenient for watching a movie or reading. When folded back to form a wedge, iPad will be at an angle which can make typing more comfortable. With the cover closed, the iPad is comfortable to hold and carry.
With the cover on, the iPad is not too thick to fit in either the BookArc stand or the LapWorks recliner. One may wonder why one would put a covered iPad on a stand. We don’t know either. We had them around, so we took some shots with them. If you have an idea, drop us a line.
Having a removable cover can be more practical in certain situations, but having an attached cover may be more convenient for everyday use. Time will tell which model we end up using more often. Regardless of which case we do end up using more often, we are confident that both the Piel Frama and Vaja covers will serve us well.