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Review: Booqpad for iPad 2

The $50 Booqpad pairs your newest generation Apple tablet with an ancient and classic bit of tech: paper. It’s an interesting pairing that really makes you think about how to use the iPad’s slate form factor: Apple’s Smart Cover tends to make you think of the iPad as a hybrid portrait-landscape device for typing and multimedia, whereas the Booqpad tends to tell you that the iPad is a tablet meant to be used in portrait mode.

The Fit

I had a nasty little surprise when I first tried the Booqpad on my iPad 2. It plays nicely enough with my Gelaskins backing, but it temporarily mangled the front skin I had so painstakingly installed. I don’t blame booq’s design for this – few cases are meant to work alongside skins – but let this serve as a warning to prospective buyers with Gelaskins or InvisibleShields installed: the Booqpad is a pretty tight fit.

You Could Go Like This, You Could Go Like That

It’s also a pretty smart fit. The iPad and 50-sheet pad of paper can be inserted in such a way that you can have the iPad on the left and paper on the right, or the other way around. It’s good to know that Booq is looking out for lefties.

Once your iPad 2 is inside the Booqpad and sealed in place with the fabric flap, you can rest assured that it isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the fit is so secure that the Booqpad becomes more of an all-day kind of case – the kind you don’t really take off, because it’s a little bit of a pain to do so. This can be a little limiting, but more on that a bit later.

Refined and Recycled

The lower-end Booqpad model I used is made of 100% recycled PET (Polyethylene terephthalate, don’t you know?), and yet it still feels very much like a quality product. It dresses the iPad up quite nicely (the gray/green colour combination on my Booqpad looks sharp), and the clasp for the front cover always closes with a very satisfying *snap*.

iPad + Pad of paper

Here’s a sentence that’s guaranteed to cause more than a few eyeballs to roll in their sockets: writing on actual paper is fun, and the Booqpad reminded me of that. I’m the kind of person who thinks so much about the kind of tech with circuitry in it that I can often forget about the kind of tech made out of tree bark. In short, I’ve become so accustomed to having to load up a notes app before actually being able to take notes, that clicking a pen and then setting it to the pad of paper in the Booqpad was surprisingly simple. Shame on me for forgetting the magic of paper.

Portrait Encouraged

The Booqpad’s form factor tends to guide users towards a very specific type of iPad usage: the tablet as a reference tool, and paper as the primary recording interface. This makes the Booqpad fantastic for meetings at a desk or chats at a coffee shop where you’ll use the iPad to look up previous notes or conduct web searches, and paper to record your newest thoughts.

However, I do think that the Booqpad could have been a much more flexible case, had it addressed some of the more common iPad use cases. Most iPad users I know of enjoy elevating their iPads for use as netbook-like devices (paired with a BT keyboard), or tilting the tablet ever-so-slightly for easier text entry in landscape mode.

The Booqpad simply does not have the capacity to hold an iPad vertically for viewing, and although you can fold the other half of the folio behind the iPad to use the Booqpad as a mini lectern, this position just feels half-baked; all of the paper on the paper pad is left to flap around or get crumpled under the weight of the iPad unless you pin it closed with your hand, and that’s just a hassle. Having the pad of paper always attached also makes it much harder to relax with apps like iBooks or Wired, since you’ll always have an unwieldy pad of paper flapping around while you try to read.

Conclusion

After a few days with the Booqpad I already knew that it wasn’t quite the case for me: I like typing with landscape and Bluetooth keyboards far too much to be locked into portrait mode.
However, I definitely see how this case can appeal to users who see their iPads as more of a reference rather than writing machine. If you’re already used to jotting down notes with a real pen and pad of paper, but are also looking for a way to leverage the power of your powerful new tablet, then the Booqpad makes for a very compelling choice. It features a built-in pen slot, two card slots, and heavy padding to keep the whole package secure — all for just $50 (or $100 for a fancier leather version) from Booq.com. Just make sure not to go too paper crazy, since pad re-fills for 150 sheets (three pads) go for $10 a pop.

This Booqpad was provided by The Max Borges Agency for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

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