My Review of the Portenzo BookCase for the New iPad
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(See the end of the review for a link and coupon code worth 10 percent off for the weekend of 4-6 January 2013!)
Like many people who upgraded from an iPad 2 to the New iPad, I quickly discovered that my old case no longer activated the magnetic wake / stand-by feature of the New iPad. As a result, I was once again in the market for a new iPad case. My previous cases for the original iPad and iPad 2 had been the leather(ish) book style cases, each with some version of a method to allow the iPad to sit at various angles while in the landscape configuration. This time, however, I elected to go with a custom iPad case from Portenzo.
Portenzo’s website allows hundreds of customization options for any new case, and I availed myself of a number of them. I opted for the BookCase style case, with a Navy Blue Morocco exterior, an espresso interior, the brown elastic strap, and I opted as well for the camera cut-out, the stylus compartment, and the IntelliStand feature, which allows the case to prop up the iPad in a landscape viewing position.
Upon completion of my order, Portenzo’s convenient “Mega Tracker” let me know that production time was typically 10-15 days. Given my normally obsessive compulsive tracking behaviors and the fact that I was risking my precious new iPad by using it caseless, I visited Portenzo’s Mega Tracker several times a day. Unfortunately, at one point on about Day 16, the Mega Tracker went down for maintenance for a few days. Once it was back up and running, I found that my case was in production and the Mega Tracker allowed me to watch my customized case go through the production process. Exactly 24 days after I ordered my case, it arrived at my front door.
The case came packaged carefully and in a plastic bag, alongside an invoice document and some other inserted material, including a nice tag that showed my custom options, as well as a cleaning cloth. My craftsman, whose handwritten initials might be “JN,” reinforced that my case was made to order and I quickly discovered that Portenzo definitely takes pride in their work. Despite what I’m sure must have been a tremendous press of orders after the arrival of the New iPad, quality doesn’t seem to have suffered at all. I simply could not find a single flaw anywhere on the case. The material was absolutely the quality of a fine book, the interior the same, and the woodworking was smooth.
Popping in the iPad, I discovered the fit was excellent, and the camera hole aligned perfectly, which I verified by taking a few pictures. I slipped my stylus into the stylus holder, where it held the stylus snugly and uneventfully. The brown elastic band holds either the front cover closed, or doubles to hold the front and back cover together when you have the case open and in portrait position.
The magnets in the BookCase activated Apple’s wake / sleep modes flawlessly and access to the headphone jack, dock connector, and volume / orientation / mute switch was easy and unimpeded. The IntelliStand feature works marvelously, with the iPad staying very stable in the landscape viewing position, though I did discover that my stylus would dangle a bit inelegantly once you take advantage of the landscape mode. I just recommend pulling out your stylus if you are going to use the IntelliStand feature.
The appearance of the case is simply first-rate. The fact that it is truly customized, is elegantly crafted, and really presents the appearance of a high-quality book or notebook really sets it apart from your average $30 iPad case.
So, are there any negative points? Yes, there are a few. First, the edges seem to be rather defined-- not quite sharp, per se, but you can feel them dig in a bit if you are in any position where you are propping the iPad up on some part of your body. Some of the cases I’ve used in the past were a little more comfortable in those use circumstances. Also, the case does add some weight to the iPad, which I normally wouldn’t have really noticed had I not used it for nearly a month without any case at all. Also, this level of craftsmanship does not come cheap-- with the options that I included on mine, the price out the door was a whopping $104.75, though the long production time indicates to me that many people are willing to pay a premium price for a premium case. Finally, and this is my biggest concern, Portenzo has elected to not place a cutout in the position where you would normally power on or off the iPad. This isn’t a huge concern, as I do rarely turn my iPad on or off, but I have become accustomed to doing so if my apps start to act a bit glitchy or when I need to save the battery over an extended period of time. In those circumstances, I’ll be forced to pop the iPad out of the case in order to access the button. (UPDATE: In response to my review, Portenzo sent me a link to a video showing the "secret power button" feature. I've still not been able to get it to work with mine, but I've posted their video below my video review to show that it clearly works for them. ANOTHER UPDATE: My "secret power button" does in fact work. I now use it all the time. I'm not sure what changed, but I now have no problem activating it).
To conclude, this case eschews mass production and cheap materials in favor of a distinctly elegant appearance that you can customize in hundreds of combinations. I can also happily report that my New iPad, safely ensconced in its new Portenzo case, took about a three-foot fall on to a hardwood floor. Both the iPad and the case were unaffected by the experience, so at least in my recent experience, the BookCase is both elegant and durable and does an admirable job of protecting the iPad inside.
Though the custom-designed and elegantly crafted BookCase comes at a premium cost, the Portenzo BookCase is a fitting case to wrap around the gorgeous industrial design and retina display on the New iPad. Overall, I give it an “A-.”
(* For the weekend of January 4-6, 2013, use link above and the coupon code THX at checkout to get an additional 10% off your order!)
Also, please check out my video review below!
Portenzo's secret power button feature illustrated: