Leather binding might be one of the most truly beautiful artisan trades, and, as I discovered in my review of the Pad & Quill Octavo (iPad 2) and Little Black Book (iPhone 4), also serves as an excellent method for making beautiful, durable cases. Pad&Quill has stepped up once more with their Contega case for iPad 2 – read on for the full review.
The Contega builds upon the success of it’s two younger siblings, Pad&Quill’s original iPad case called The Case, and the Octavo for iPad 2. Like it’s siblings, it’s expertly bound in rich Italian bonded leather and bookbinding linen, all wrapped around a hand-finished birchwood framework, which is then padded in the corners to protect your device. Also like its siblings, the Contega doubles as a security device, disguising your expensive iPad as a book, making it harder to identify to an outsider.
Unlike it’s siblings, however, the Contega attempts something new, and in the process takes things to a whole new level. The Contega is built with discrete joints that allow it to flex at predestined points in the leather without creasing it or affecting it’s performance.
The Contega for iPad is essentially Pad&Quill’s take on the easel-style case. It’s classically beautiful, incredibly rugged, yet classy, and works well in both professional and casual settings. It’s durable enough to stand up to extensive use, and gains a certain rugged beauty as it eventually ages and becomes scuffed and worn.
The case folds back to support itself, and can hold your iPad in 2 different positions, depending on your preferences or how you intend to use it. And even with the addition of an entire extra layer of material, which is necessary for the case to behave like an easel, it still supports all the cutouts necessary to use the iPad’s functions, including the camera.
In addition to it’s multi-position stand, the Contega also features a hidden pocket, which is large enough to discretely hold a few sheets of paper. Also, due to its design and the fact that it’s made from dense birch wood, it also amplifies your iPad’s speakers.
There are a few particular features of the Contega that make it unique and add to its overall value and usefulness. First is the fact that all Pad&Quill products are hand-made in the U.S., and not outsources and assembled in factories like many other cases. Second is Pad&Quill’s attention to detail: every aspect of this case speaks highly of its quality, from the materials used, to the flawless way it all comes together, and finally its durability and classic appearance.
Like the Octavo, the Contega features built-in magnets, and supports the iPad 2’s wake/sleep function when you open and close the cover of the case. The Contega is, for many reasons, the natural evolution of the Octavo. For instance, with the Octavo, I often found myself propping it against things so it could hold up my iPad unaided. Pad&Quill has included this functionality, without taking away from the simplicity and classic stylings of its predecessor.
A Few Minor Gripes
The only negative comments I would make about this case are that it is a bit thick, as the stand functionality required the addition of an extra layer of binding, and it’s also a bit heavy. It’s one of the heftier overall cases I have used for the iPad. While this might be concerning to some users, I actually felt that this was a sign of its quality and long-term durability, and if you’re using the Contega in the same way you’d use a Moleskine or other notebook, these factors really don’t make much of difference.
The Contega is just as much a work of art as it is a durable and functional case and stand for your iPad. It’s versatile, casual enough to appear natural in nearly any setting, yet professional enough in appearance to use even in formal situations.
Despite it’s considerable size and heft, the Contega feels complete. It improves on its predecessors, it dresses up your iPad in beautiful and traditional styling, protects your device from drops, rough tabletops, or other evils that could harm your expensive tool, and does all of this without missing a beat, or leaving much of anything to be desired.
Conclusion & Rating
Rating: 5 out of 5
Pad&Quill’s Contega is a joy of a product. It’s attractive, traditional, durable, and makes it easier and more confortable to use a product that’s already pretty great on its own – the iPad 2. I think of the Contega as a security blanket of sorts…a very elegant and useful security blanket.
For its myriad of strong points, including its overall quality, durability, classic good looks, preservation of all of the iPad’s functionality, and down-right awesomeness, I award the Contega for iPad 2 a 5 out of 5. While it may not be the best case for every user, it very well might be the best case in its category, and for that, combined with the excellence that only a hand-made product can achieve, I cannot help but award it full marks. In summary, below are a few of the high points and low points that I encountered in writing this review:
- Durable, and hand made from quality materials.
- Acts as an excellent movie watching or typing stand.
- Beautiful, classically styled, and appropriate for almost any setting.
- Channels and enhances the iPad’s speakers.
- Features a hidden slot for holding documents.
- Discretely disguises your iPad when not in use.
- The price may drive away some customers, though I feel it’s reasonable for a hand-made quality product.
- Can add significant weight and thickness to your iPad.
- Some of the iPad’s buttons can be difficult to use while holding the case.
The Contega for iPad 2 is currently available for pre-order for $79.95, and will begin shipping on June 23rd. Ordering now can save you $10, and the price will go up to $89.95 once they start rolling the Contega out to consumers. For more information, or to purchase the Contega for iPad 2, visit Pad & Quill’s product page on the net.