Short Version: The Dodocase is about as close to perfection as iPad cases get. The materials are beautiful, and the craftsmanship is spectacular. It has a few quirks inherent to the materials used — but as long as you know what you’re buying, you’ll be happy. Also, this case could probably get you laid.
I tend to be a bit of a stickler when it comes to reviews, finding things to nag about in even the finest products. It’s not that I’m a cynic, or even naturally critical; I just really expect products to be worth the asking price.
At $59.99, the Dodocase is worth the asking price.
Now, the Dodocase is not a be-all, do-everything case; it won’t protect your iPad from being crushed by a truck, it doesn’t double as a battery, and it won’t wash your hair. It doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is: a simple, elegant, hand-crafted case designed in the same vein (and built with many of the same practices) as a classic, hardback leather-bound book. And man oh man, does it pull that off well.
For a better idea of just what goes into these things, check out this video:
Too long, didn’t watch? In short, a handful of folks crank these things out in a little workshop in San Francisco, using traditional book binding practices. The outside of the case is wrapped in faux (but rather legit looking) leather, with the innercase lined with any one of eight colors. Then comes the wood: inside the case is a holster of sorts, handcrafted from bamboo to hold your iPad in place. As Bamboo doesn’t naturally offer up the best grip, the corners of the interior are lined with a thermoplastic elastomer (read: super grippy rubber).
Going into the review, these grippy rubber corners were one of my early concerns; in researching the case, I found a handful of reports from users complaining that the rubber corners on their Dodocases had started to peel. Dodocase minus rubber corners = oh-god-my-iPad-just-hit-the-floor-and-exploded, so that wasn’t something I wanted to miss in my review. So, I sat there and popped my iPad in and out of the Dodocase a few hundred times; no pealing. I shot an email to the team — turns out, they worked with 3M to come up with a stronger glue for the thermoplastic rubber/bamboo combo, so the pealing issue had been done away with. So, yeah, I took my iPad in and out a few hundred times for nothing. The things I do for you guys!
Beyond protecting your iPad and looking pretty, the Dodocase also doubles as a stand for landscape viewing. Due to the leather-ish material used to wrap the exterior, it does this better on some surfaces than it does others. On a smooth surface, like a desk, you’re limited to a pretty tight set of possible viewing angles — lean it too far in either direction, and it’ll slip in an instant. On any textured or soft surface, like a couch, a bed, or your belly (laying down and putting this thing on your gut is actually a pretty damn nice way to watch Netflix), you’ve got a lot more flexibility. It’d be nice if Dodocase could figure out some way to make the edge that touches down just a bit less slippery, but that’d be tough to do without tarnishing the aesthetics.
A few people have asked me about wear and tear. After about a month of near-constant use, the Dodocase is showing some wear — but not in a bad way. Think of your favorite book. One that you’ve taken a good few trips through, as made evident by the wrinkling of the binding. That’s the same way the Dodocase wears; where it creases, it shows its age. This doesn’t take away from the look at all, though — to be honest, it actually looks sort of classy.
Speaking of looking classy: you remember when I said earlier that this case could probably get you laid? I was only half joking. There’s something about carrying a leather-bound item (be it a book, a journal, or an undercover iPad) that seems to make people think you’re interesting. In the month that I carried this, it served as a conversation starter no less than ten times.
If I had to nitpick over any one thing, it’d be the quality of the decorative label (in classic terms, the “bookplate“) on the left side of the interior. It’s printed at a somewhat low DPI, so the quality of the printed image just doesn’t stand up to close inspection. Additionally, the label itself gets dirty pretty quick, given that it’s often exposed to whatever crap is on your table when the cover is folded back. Fortunately, you can peel off this label and do what you will with it without leaving any adhesive. With other products, I probably wouldn’t mention it; here, though, it stands out as not meeting the quality of the rest of the product.
Finally, one last thing worth noting: this case makes me enjoy reading books on the iPad more. I’m not too big of a fan of reading on a tablet (or a Kindle, for that matter), as years of holding books that certain way have made it impossible for me to get comfortable snuggling up with a creaseless slab of glass and metal. There’s something about the Dodocase, though — I think it’s the book-like fold of the binding and the faux-leather beneath my fingers — that just makes it all seem right.
I don’t keep the Dodocase at all times, anymore; it’s just a bit too heavy for that (as opposed to a bare iPad, that is, primarily because the iPad is just so friggin’ light.) I think of it as sort of a dinner jacket for my iPad. If I’m going out, I toss my iPad in the Dodocase before slipping it in my backpack; it adds just a bit of glam, while protecting the important bit from most elements that might come its way.