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Best Of Breed: iPad Folios

Companies such as Franklin Covey and FiloFax created the personal organizer market to help people give structure to their busy lives. The paper day planners, appointment calendars, and to-do lists helped people juggle, arrange, and cram more into their day then ever before. All of these different sections were neatly packaged in a handy paperback book size folio. When Personal digital assistants (PDA) hit the scene, their functionalities were modeled after the paper day planners, appointment books, and organizers. So it was not surprising to see them sporting leather folio covers like their analog counterparts.

The iPad, with its notepad-like form factor, was a natural fit for the folio-style covers. Apple even sells a folio cover for the iPad when the iPad. The problem is it is rather bland and uninteresting, but it was the only one available when the iPad was released. Now that the iPad has been out for a while, the selection of folio covers is much richer. We spent the last few months combing through all of the different offerings and selected four worthy of our Best-Of-Breed list:

  • M-Edge – Method Folio
  • Sena – Leather folio w/ snap closure
  • Piel Frama – Leather folio w/ magnetic closure
  • XGear – Carbon Fiber Folio

The M-Edge Method and Piel Frama folio have been examined individually in previous articles on RainyDayMagazine, so we will not cover them indepth again. Instead, we will take a side-by-side look at all four today to see how they stack up against each other.

On our FirstLook of the M-Edge folio, we used it to put together a portable prototyping studio and was amazed at the amount of stuff the M-Edge Method could carry. The interesting thing about this folio is the center iPad holder. The iPad sleeve is also a dual-side mount. This arrangement allows for a lot of different possible configurations depending on how you like to work. Like any good folio, there are also lots of extra pockets for cables, credit cards, etc… For those looking to carry a keyboard with their iPad, this is definitely the folio to get. The side pocket is sized to accommodate the Apple wireless keyboard and had no problem taking our Anycom Bluetooth unit.

Not everyone wants to take their office along with them everywhere they go. Some want a great looking case that is clean, elegant, and at home around a conference table. This Piel Frama folio was designed with those folks in mind. The outside of the case is padded and made from butter-soft leather. This case has an easy slip-in holder, a side pocket, and an unobtrusive magnetic closure. It folds to form a nicely angled stand for typing. While the case is simple, it is flawlessly constructed and especially attractive when executed in “Power Red :-)”

If you like to carry a few more items in your folio, but don’t need the capacity of the M-Edge Method, then this Sena unit may be just right. We like this case because it struck the perfect balance of form and function. There are slots for credit and business cards, a small pocket for slightly bigger pieces of paper, and an integrated stand.

Note the little retaining strap on the side. It slips through and snaps to the back of the case to keep the iPad from sliding out of the sleeve. A nice touch as it balances the built-in strap for the pull out iPad stand.

This Sena folio comes in black as well as brown. Many like black for it’s “all-business” look, but we are partial to brown because of its rich warm tone. In our view, a brown leather cover conveys friendlier “win-win” attitude. Not everything in business has to look intimidating! You can still take them to the cleaners in the negotiation, but it nicer when you look friendly when doing it.

The XGear folio is the minimalist in the crowd. This case made our Best-Of-Breed list for a several reasons. It is thin—thinner than both the Piel Frama and the Sena— and covered with carbon fiber. If you want a black folio, this carbon fiber-covered folio will both fit-in AND stand out. This XGear folio will work well for both left or right-handedusers as the iPad may be placed in the case in either orientation.

Like the Apple case, the cover of the XGear has a joint which allows it to fold into a stand, perfect for note-taking or answering some emails during a (boring) meeting. The stiff outside/felt-covered inside will keep the screen protected during transport. We like the no-fuss, low-profile closure and the corner bumper details. The cover is shiny, but not glossy as is typical of carbon fiber shells. While we like the glossy finish because it really shows off the weave pattern of the carbon fiber, we are not so crazy about the fingerprints it attracts. In this case, we think XGear made the right decision to leave off the gloss.

When Apple introduced the iPad, they positioned the device as something we would use when we want to do some web-surfing, video watching, or eMailing. The commercials always had folks leaning back, putting their feet up, and relaxing with their iPads. However, many have found the iPad is an ideal device for web-surfing, video watching, and eMailing when they were work as well. In fact, as future iPads get more powerful, we expect that they will displace the laptop as the device of choice for many professionals. That would certainly be true for us, as we spend all day surfing the web, watching videos, emailing each other and calling it “work.” So, when you need to dress up your iPad for work, suit it up in a folio and get it ready to take on the world.

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