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Review: Sena Folio for iPad 2

A lot of the iPad cases I’ve seen tend to lock the user into one or two modes of use, but the Sena Folio for iPad 2 does a brilliant job of adapting to all the different ways I like to hold the iPad 2. In fact, Sena event went so far as to address one of my biggest pet peeves with covered cases: loose covers.

When the Smart Cover first came out, one of the most frequent complaints about it was that it didn’t secure itself neatly to the rear end of the iPad during use. I work around that design limitation by simply taking the cover off, but that isn’t as easy when you’re dealing with a full body case.

That’s why Sena’s approach of having the front cover click right into the back of the Folio is so brilliant: instead of having to secure the cover by hand (or have it flop around), the Folio simply becomes a thicker one-piece case when open. This aspect of the design is key to the Folio experience, and it not only makes it easier to hold the whole device, but enables the use of a stand that isn’t often found in cases: the portrait stand.

Stands

This stand, which also functions in landscape mode, is a long, rigid piece of leather on the inside of the Folio’s front cover. The stand is secured by a clasp, but a quick, sharp tug is all that is needed to access it. I’ve used this stand extensively in both portrait and landscape orientation and have nothing but praise for it. However, you do need to make sure the Folio’s cover is securely fastened to the back of the case, or the whole iPad will sit off-center, despite the stand.

In this regard, the smaller built-in typing stand is a lot simpler to use: simply lie the iPad landscape, fold the case, and unclasp the stand. The typing angle offered is very similar to the one offered by the Smart Cover, if a little less steep. If I’m not using one of the Folio’s two stands, then I’m either holding the iPad 2 up for reading, or I’m leaving it on a desk somewhere (and automatically making the surrounding area look classier).

Thickness

Some people will likely take issue with the Folio’s thickness, but I actually rather like it. It’s a little heavier than the naked iPad 2, but also easier to hold, with the soft Napa leather providing a far better surface to grip than the cold aluminum.

Appearance

When closed, the Folio is the picture of class. From the stitching to the durability and sheen of the leather, the Folio feels like a premium product. Your local no-name pleather Best Buy case this is not. The brown color of my review sample is dark enough to look professional, but still has enough color and texture to hide fingerprints. I wouldn’t count on the Folio to protect my iPad from a sudden drop, but the thick front and back padding ensure that the tablet is safe and sound during transport.

Oversights

Unfortunately, there are also a few flaws in the Folio’s design, and while they haven’t hampered my long-term enjoyment of the case, I can’t help but think of these flaws as oversights that could have been addressed before this case hit the market.

Fit – the fit of the Sena Folio is 95% there. All of the side buttons and ports are accessible and line up nicely, but the iPad 2 just doesn’t sit quite straight in the case (and this is the first time I’ve used a Sena case with anything less than a perfect fit). The home button and iSight cameras can both sit noticeably off-center during normal usage and I haven’t been able to solve this issue, despite sealing the iPad 2 as tightly as possible within the case. It isn’t just the front of the iPad that is off either – the bottom right corner of the tablet is also prone to peeking out of the leather enclosure, showing a sliver of silver where there should only be brown leather. Considering how well crafted the rest of the Folio is, it’s disappointing to see that the basic fit of the case is anything less than perfect (especially when a little bit of extra leather along the bottom-right corner would likely have solved these issues).

The clasp – The folio is full of panels and stands that fold and click into place, and I’ve impressed a lot of people by showing what the folio can do. However, time after time, the first question I’ve been asked has been “what’s with the flap?” That’s because the clasp that secures the front cover simply dangles along the right side of the iPad when the case is open. I’ve gotten used to the clasp now that I’ve spent a good week with the case, but it really does stick out like a sore thumb.

No magnets – I’m not sure why, but the Folio completely leaves out the auto sleep and wake features that the Smart Cover offers. I realize that the Folio is a different beast, but if the magnets are already built right into every iPad 2, then why not take advantage of them? After all, Sena’s other case, the Florence, does so.

Conclusion

Despite the lack of magnets, I still find the Sena Folio for iPad 2 a very attractive solution for users who want to dress their tablets up a little (okay, a lot). The fit really should be perfect considering the $100 premium price tag, but after spending more time with the case, the aesthetic flaws bothered me less and less. The look and feel of the Napa leather, as well as the fantastic pop up stands have made pale shadows of the oversights, so even though I’ll acknowledge that the Folio doesn’t quite live up to the quality of some of my other Sena cases, I still think of it as my favorite iPad 2 case by a long shot.

The Sena Folio for iPad 2 was provided by Sena for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.

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