The SkechBook case, from master iPad case-maker Skech, was one of the things that drove me to buy and iPad mini, so slim and cute and retro-tastic is its tiny form.
Since succumbing to the mini’s charms, though, I have come to believe that it really needs no case other than the Smart Cover, and the Smart Cover is only really needed to lock and unlock the screen quickly. Why? Because the iPad mini weighs just 307 grams on my kitchen scale, making even the 68-gram Smart Cover a significant addition to its weight. And apart from the glass screen, the little iPad is so light, tough and compact that further protection seems like unnecessary coddling.
The Skechbook weighs in at only 170 grams, but that puts the whole package at over a pound (a pound is 454 grams). It sounds like nothing, but at this level, even an ounce (28 grams) can make a huge difference.
That said, the case/iPad combo only feels heavy if you’re used to using the mini in its naked form. In practice, the package feels like a nice, dense paper notebook. If you carry it in your hand, you’re going to love the feel and heft of it.
The SkechBook is a book cover which uses what I call a “split-back” design. That is, the rear cover has a vertical crease which lets it fold away from the iPad. This in turn lets you swing the “spine” (left) edge of the iPad out and turn the whole thing into a stand for movie watching or – if you let it drop down further – typing.
The SkechBook is every bit as great as it looks in photos.
This clever design means that the case weighs no more than a regular cover-only design, but manages to also incorporate that stand.
The stand has no creases in the front cover/base to stop the mini from sliding down, but friction combined with the mini’s light weight mean this isn’t a problem. What might be a problem is the three-sided grip which holds the iPad in place. With a black iPad you won’t notice it, but with a white one it makes the right edge feel a little visually crowded.
|Integrated stand||Landscape View/Typing|
There is a cutout for the camera, and the part of the case which covers the right-hand speaker is perforated. All other controls are accessible thanks to the open design.
Finally, there are extra magnets in the cover to hold it closed. The one in the front cover rattles a little, but does its job very well. It might not keep the cover closed inside a full, jostling bag or purse, but it is plenty strong enough to stop the cover springing open by itself.
Skech uses plastic in its cases, and artfully textures it to feel like other materials, like leather. In this case (hah!) the plastic feels like textured card, or the cover of an expansive book. It also has a slight rubbery grippiness, which makes you want to grope and rub it with your thumb.
Pro: Solid, relatively light, great-looking.
Con: Compared to the mini, it’s just plain heavy.
The Skechbook is rock solid, and its rigid construction and squared off corners feel like they’ll protect the mini even if dropped onto a hard surface. The plastic design also makes the case feel like it’ll last.
One note on longevity: I have a Skech case I use for my big iPad and it has a couple of cracks at the top and bottom of the spine where the plastic hinge flexes. It’s cosmetic only, but probably worth a mention.
If I wasn’t such a weight weenie, I’d love this case. It’s solid, it looks great and it works well, packing a lot of functionality into a minimal design. And left on a cafe table it might just pass for a paper book, especially if you are wearing a beard and a scarf.
But at 170 grams it adds half the iPad mini’s weight again, which is enough to take the tiny tablet from unnoticeable in a bag or pocket to, well, slightly noticable. If this doesn’t bother you, then the SkechBook is every bit as great as it seems in the photos.