Rather than waste your entire morning forcing you to read two iPad 2 case reviews (I think I could barely read one at a sitting, but but these are important enough to look at more closely), I’ve decided to mush together two reviews into one megareview, the way Voltron is made up of multiple robots. To that end, I present to you an assessment of the Speck Pixelskin HD Wrap and their recently released Smartshell. I begin with the Smartshell.
When Speck first announced this case I was quite excited. I had already sunk $69 into the fancy leather iPad Smart Cover (I didn’t know it would be $69 when I picked it at the store it and by the time I hit the register I decided it would be bad form to upset the Apple genius who literally stood with me the entire freaking time while I was in the store. I think his life depended on quotas) and I used it religiously for quite a while. However, I like to resell my Apple stuff when new stuff hits so I decided to move to a full-coverage case (the HD Wrap, below) and wait until Speck released this hunk of plastic. Why? Because the Smart Cover only protects the front of the iPad 2 and not the back and I did not want to scratch up the iPad’s pristine and beautiful backside.
Basically this is a rear case for your iPad 2 with all the proper cut-outs and room enough to connect the Smart Cover. It covers the iPad’s metal back and protects it from some bumps and bruises although I wouldn’t say that this solution will protect from extreme impact or a fall. That said, however, the Smart Cover/Smartshell combo offers a base level of protection while reducing the overall case size, something I particularly enjoyed. You also regain the dubious benefits of the Smart Cover’s magnetic activation system.
While it is clear that the Smartshell is just a cleverly-made piece of plastic, if you, like me, have taken your iPad 2 to be your life partner in a small ceremony held in a park gazebo surrounded by supportive friends and family, I think you will agree that this $35 shell, alongside the aforementioned Smart Cover, are two great tastes that taste great together. However, if you do not own the Smart Cover yet, do not buy this.
If you’re looking for more full-bodied protection, Speck also offers the Pixelskin HD Wrap, a rubbery, nubbin-textured soft case that surrounds your iPad in nearly the same material they used to use to Wacky Wall Walkers. The front of the case folds up into a triangle (Triangular solid? Triangular Cylinder?) like the Smart Cover and a small sticky patch along the backside allows it to stick to the glass.
Spoiler alert: Unlike the Smart Cover, this case does not clean your iPad 2′s screen, which can become a bit of a problem if you eat guac and chips while playing Angry Birds: Little Man Tate Edition. However, it does offer solid, all-encompassing protection of your iPad in a fairly slim case. It costs 50 freaking bucks, though, so be prepared to pay heartily for a case made of petroleum by-products and artificial coloring.
In all, these two cases are the best I’ve seen so far as most of the other cases I used are far too big and gangly for everyday use. However, you do face some trade-offs with each so qui nigrum videte.