Review: Incase Convertible Magazine Jacket

by on April 7, 2011

Got an original iPad and have Smart Cover-envy? You’re not alone. Fortunately, the $50 Incase Convertible Magazine Jacket, which actually was released long before the iPad 2 and Smart Covers, gives the original iPad a folding cover, but also protects the back of the iPad. Unlike Apple’s iPad 2-oriented options, the Magazine Jacket comes in any color and material you like, as long as it’s a black synthetic material.

Incase Incase Incase
Incase Incase Incase

The Magazine Jacket attaches to the iPad like many other snap-on hard cases. Plastic grips fit around the corners to hold the cover in place and the top and bottom sides are exposed. This can be a good thing (odd-shaped cables), or a bad (each end of the iPad is exposed) depending on how you look at it. Beyond that, the back of the iPad is completely covered and is given an adequate amount of protection from everyday dings and bumps. The cutout for the side switch is also on the small side—we would’ve liked a little bit of an angled cutout for those who have larger fingers or short fingernails.

The part that makes the Magazine Jacket unique is the thin, folding flap that protects the screen when the iPad is not in use. Although similar to the Smart Cover, and compared early on, the Magazine Jacket’s material is slightly different, and only features three panels instead of four. Like the Smart Cover, the iPad still can be used in a viewing or typing angle, but the Magazine Jacket also has notches on the back of the hard plastic cover that allows an additional viewing angle. This require a bit more effort to use, but does offer some flexibility if you are fighting with glare or want to use an iPad on a lower table. The cover folds behind the iPad if you plan to use it like a handheld tablet, but does not stay flat against the back of the iPad, due to its curved nature and the notches for the two viewing angles.

As mentioned earlier, the three-versus-four panels choice does create some issue with the iPad in the typing angle. Unlike the Smart Cover, which uses the fourth panel as a reinforcement, the Magazine Jacket’s three causes a bit of instability if you happen to slide the iPad forward or backwards while typing. Other than that, we found the typing angle to be quite usable and very convenient, eliminating the need for some other stand.

Finally, to keep the cover of the Magazine Jacket closed, Incase has built a Moleskine-esque elastic strap into the case that flips around to hold the cover closed, or stays out of the way when you are using your iPad. It’s a nice touch, since a number of folio-style cases do not have a way to keep the flap closed.

There was a bit of controversy about if Apple stole the idea of the Smart Covers from Incase, and although we doubt it, the idea was the first-of-its-kind and has since been duplicated by other manufacturers, too. Because of this, we do recognize that this is the first of probably many cases in this category and also cannot say things along the lines of, “Apple’s Smart Covers are more perfected.” They came later.

In summary, the Convertible Magazine Jacket is a pretty good case for those who want something like the Smart Cover, but have an original iPad. It’s as thin and lightweight as Apple’s original iPad case, but we think it is a much better design. Furthermore, for the price, it’s only $10 more than Apple’s original iPad case and cheaper Smart Covers, but also acts a stand that may save an additional expense.

The One-Sentence Verdict™

Incase’s Convertible Magazine Jacket offers a unique design, competitive price, and adequate protection in a slim iPad case, with only a few shortcomings.

Pros: Adds Smart Cover-style flap to the iPad, good-feeling materials, doubles as a stand, lightweight

Cons: Can become unstable in typing mode if moved, flap does not fold completely flat against the back, side switch hard to access

Rating: 7/10

The Facts

Product: Convertible Magazine Jacket
Company: Incase
Platform: iPad (1)
Price: $49.95

This post has been filed in iPad, Mobile Devices, Reviews