Until I took delivery of the Don’t Panic iPad case this week, this Custom Jacket from Skech has been my new favorite iPad case. It looks like leather, but is in fact artfully textured (and fully vegan) plastic, it holds the iPad tight and safe, and it weighs next to nothing. It also look pretty damn good.
Let’s take a closer look.
Like most of Skech’s cases, the Custom Jacket (let’s call him CJ) is as minimal as you can get without sacrificing protection. The rear panel is more like a skin than a fat folio case, and the iPad 3 slips in and is clamped fast by the tight corners, which act as clips. There are cutouts for the 4G iPad’s plastic radio-transparent strip (which also gives access to the headphone jack and sleep button), for the volume and rotation-lock bottons on the side, and for the dock connector and speaker at the bottom.
The case is extremely light (230 grams, or eight ounces) and slim. Yet despite this, it holds the iPad in tight: I have constantly held the whole shebang by the front flap and let the iPad dangle perfectly safely: You can be sure the only time the iPad is coming out is when you want it to come out.
The case is also pretty functional. There’s a magnet in the lid to trigger wake/sleep when opened and closed, and the front flap is also creased to let you fold it.
Thus folded, you can tuck the edge of the front flap into a little catch on the back, leaving the case in a hollow wedge shape. This stands up for movie-watching purposes, and lays flattish for typing. In the upright position especially the case is a lot sturdier than Apple’s Smart Cover, mostly thanks to the extra size of its “foot.”
Also great is the finish, which doesn’t look at all tacky in spite of its fake leather texture. Even The Lady, notoriously picky about such things, told me several times that she liked CJ quite a lot.
That folding crease in the case has developed a small split at either end. They don’t seem like they’ll get any bigger, but you might not like them (actually, you might not even notice them as they’re so small). Then again, my Smart Cover also has all kinds of cracks and splits, so this may just be a product of repeated bending.
Another niggle is that the case makes it awkward to take photos. The iPad isn’t exactly an easy-to-shoot-with camera, but the way the front folds back either blocks the camera hole or gets in the way of the left hand.
Finally, the inside of the case is the same shiny, wipe-clean plastic as the outside. This is great, except that I have become used to microfiber linings which clean the iPad’s screen automatically. That might say more about my laziness than the design of the case, though.
The CJ – available in brown or black – looks classy, gets out of the way and offers plenty of protection. It’s another hit from Skech (who also made the excellent Porter Case), and is a bargain at $40, which is what you’d pay for some rear skins.
Sure, it is bare-bones when it comes to fastenings and fancy linings, but that also keeps it sleek and lightweight. If you want a fatter, folio-style case, then there are plenty of puffed-up, overweight options out there.
And one side note before I go. I know I have been giving cases great reviews and great scores recently. Don’t worry about that, though. There are a few awful cases in my review pile that I should get around to telling you about next week.