Patina

At the end of last week Marco Arment posted a follow-up review on the Smart Cover for the iPad 2. In it he states:

I can’t think of many situations in which a Smart Cover provides enough protection to be worth carrying and using for people who care about the aesthetic condition of their iPad.

He freely admits that here that he can’t let go of the fact that it is “only the back” of the device that likely will get banged up. I am quite the opposite of Marco when it comes to the Smart Cover — personally I think it is the best device cover you can get right now.

Yes, it leaves lines on the screen. Sure as Marco comments the leather doesn’t feel great. But, from a usability perspective I have never been happier with a case — this coming from someone who prefers to not use a case on things.

For me what makes the Smart Cover so good is three things:

  • Screen protection.
  • Easy on and off.
  • You don’t have to take it off.

The auto-unlock is great, but not a deal breaker. With the original iPad I started by using a sleeve, then another sleeve, then the Apple iPad case. Each of those options sucked. The sleeves are nice, but highly inconvenient when you just want to pick up the iPad to look something up. I also found sleeves to be a pain in meetings and coffee shops — where do you store the sleeve when you are using the device? Your bag? Then you need to carry a bag.

The Apple case for the original iPad solved my quick access problems, but added an ugly and awkward case to the device. The smart cover though easily pops off and folds into a small triangle that looks kinda neat sitting on a desk when not in use. I also could open and remove the smart cover quicker than I could pull my iPad out of a sleeve. I can even put the cover back on in about the same time as it takes to put the iPad back in a sleeve. 1

For me it comes down to how I use the iPad: I use it regularly and sporadically. Enough so that I find it incredibly annoying to take a sleeve on and off.

Holding

One complaint of Marco’s that I agree with is that there is not ideal way to hold the iPad with the Smart Cover on. In short spurts this has never bugged me, but when trying to hold the iPad for long periods of time — yeah the cover needs to come off. The beauty is that the Smart Cover is ridiculously easy to take off, so much so I find this hard to complain about.

Protection

One last thing that Marco mentioned:

And not having the back covered means that the iPad 2 can’t share a bag pocket with anything else without a risk of being scratched.

I get what Marco means here, but my iPad and MacBook Air share the same pocket in my bag (padded laptop area) — everyday. I simply put the iPad 2 in with the smart cover resting between it and the MacBook Air and I have yet to see any problems on my MacBook Air’s top lid.

Now, I likely wouldn’t be comfortable letting the iPad share a pocket with keys, but the same goes for anything of mine that is not fully protected — keys are a nightmare to carry.

Patina

The last bit that I really want to touch on is scratches on your device. I stopped using a case on my iPhone sometime around 2008, so all my iPhones have scratches on them. Every time I get a scratch on my iPhone, iPod, MacBook Air, or iPad I get upset.

I don’t like my devices to get scratched up, I like my devices to always look brand new.

But, and this is a big ‘but’, I do like the over all look — the patina — of a well used and scratched up device. When I hand over my old iPhone to my wife I look at it and know that I used it, I know that the device was mine.

It’s an odd relationship to have: I like the end result of a well worn device that shows the life it has had, but I don’t like the minor nicks and scratches that it takes to get to that point.

At the end of my original iPad’s tenure as my tablet it looked nearly perfect, save one scratch in the screen. It was always carried in a case that fully protected it. Right now, my iPad 2 (that has only been used with a Smart Cover), looks brand new. The back of the iPad has seen its share of woes (table grit, cats sliding it across a table, cats spilling a glass of water on it), but it doesn’t show any of those issues.

I doubt this will be the case long term, but I will say, I have been very impressed with the durability of an iPad 2 + Smart Cover setup.

  1. This largely depending on the sleeve of course.
Originally posted for members on: July 18, 2011
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