Pad & Quill Contega Case for iPad 2: The Rolls Royce of iPad Cases [Review]



It could easily be imagined that the bookbinding industry is struggling to survive these days. As books cross over in ever-increasing numbers into the digital world, the demand for physical books have disappeared — and with it, the niche crafts that help create them. Ironic, then, that what’s breathing life into the industry now is that which began to kill it: e-books, e-readers and tablets (and in this case, the iPad 2 specifically).

Like the FieldFolio case Killian reviewed last week, Pad & Quill’s Contega Case for iPad 2 ($90) is a devilishly handsome iPad case that harnesses the mystic craft of bookbinding to create a stylish book-like home for the iPad 2. Unlike the FieldFolio though, Pad & Quill has given the Contega a large dose of practicality.

The Good:

There’s so much to like about this case. Case? No — it’s more of a finely crafted iPad display cabinet, or perhaps a hand-built iPad home. I couldn’t, for some reason, shake the sense that the Contega would be the case Gandalf might give Bilbo Baggins to keep his iPad safe; that’s probably due to the richness the Contega’s wood and leather construction evokes (but it also might be the fact that I’ve recently been having dreams I’m an elf on the back of a Great Eagle).

And it really does look amazingly like a book when closed. The Baltic birch Pad & Quill chose for the interior of the case gives the magical illusion of pages sandwiched between the leather covers.

It was also nice knowing that my iPad was safe inside something as sturdy as wood and thick leather. I dropped my iPad recently (I know, cringe away) while it was in a much slimmer, but much less protective case; the case mitigated the damage, but my iPad still came out of the ordeal with small spider cracks around one corner. But had it been in the Contega, I’m certain my iPad would have come away unscathed.

Part of that feeling of security comes from the fact that the case simply wouldn’t let go of my iPad. Besides the precision-cut enclosure, four rubber strips (one at each corner) make sure that, once in, the iPad won’t budge. The case comes with extra custom tips extra rubber strips of different thickness to customize the fit. In order to help lift the iPad out of the case, there’s a red ribbon (in the guise of a bookmark). The ribbon helped, but I did just fine prying it out through the headphone and power button cutouts.

So it looks great, and it’s the Secret Service of cases where protection is concerned. But here’s where I was really surprised: It’s also highly practical.

The case has two grooves on the inside of it’s front cover — which, by the way, is magnetic, to wake/sleep on open/close — for the case to rest in. The grooves are fairly close together, yet still manage to provide a good choice of angles: a sharp angle for watching movies when the iPad is more or less at eye level and one at about 45 degrees that works when the iPad is lower and is better for typing (though it’s not ideal — see below). because it has such a large base when set like this, it’s also very stable — even on a lap.

There’s also shallow hidden pocket for documents that’s so hidden I didn’t discover it until very late in the review. Lastly, the cutout for the speaker also does a great job of amplifying sound from the iPad’s speaker.


The Bad:

While it’s not a pig of a case, the Contega isn’t going to win any friends in the ultralight set. Then again, it isn’t meant to be, and Pad & Quill have done a great job of keeping mass and volume to a minimum for what it is.

It could sometimes be a little tricky to access things like the volume controls and power button through the cutouts.

My biggest gripe is that, even at the shallowest resting angle, it’s still wasn’t shallow enough to be ideal for long typing sessions; ironically, this is not the most ideal case for writers.


A tough, protective case wrapped in a sophisticated demeanor matched with near-flawless manners; how Pad & Quill can offer a product this superb for such comparatively paltry price is beyond us.

[xrr rating=90%]

  • Kindle Love

    Overall I’m really happy with my Kindle Fire.  I was initially frustrated with the wifi issues which seem very common with lots of other users.  I downloaded the nook app  from so I could access my B&N content for free using the Android marketplace and also got some help on sorting out the wifi.  Everything is working great for now and I’m customizing with all my usual apps.

  • Kevin Hunter

    bookbook is still a sweeter case. 

  • prof_peabody

    I don’t get the comment about the shallow angle.  If the screen was laid back any further how could you see it at all?  Do you normally type on a laptop with the screen laying down flatter than that?  It’s certainly not the norm. 

  • boss_angeles

    To me, BookBook is so much better, is all rather and cheaper. This offering has no character. 

  • elimilchman

    Of course not. But my laptop’s keyboard and screen are on two separate planes. This is where the iPad (and all tablets) display an inherent tradeoff. Because both screen and keyboard have been consolidated onto a single plane, you either have to choose viewing (by placing the iPad upright) or typing (by placing the iPad in a more reclined position). Most of us, I think, choose to have the iPad laying in the more flat position for typing — something along the lines of the Smart Cover’s reclining position; you can’t see the screen as well, but you make do, and the iPad is in the perfect postion for typing. 

    However, the Contega’s shallowest angle still isn’t shallow enough to be comfortable for typing, as it places your wrists at an awkward angle.

  • TannerBott

    not sure how this case is the rolls royce of cases, vaja sells some pretty nice authentic letter cases

  • JDWages

    I assume that this company came out with their product after viewing the DoDo version?:

    If so, it’s easy to see where their original inspiration came from. However, because the Contega case is quite far superior in terms of “features” to the DoDo, could it not be said that Contega has a different case altogether, rather than just a copied product?  Then again, we wonder the same about the Samsung and Apple iPad copy-cat legal battle.  But in the situation of the latter, Samsung really hasn’t done much to “best Apple” and make their copied product distinctive and truly different.

  • Annoyed_Contega_buyer

    I bought a Contega case a couple of months ago and was really taken by it at first. It is certainly well-made and I quite like the design. However, the more I used the case, the less I care for it. First off, you cannot connect the Apple 30-pin to VGA adaptor while the iPad is in the Contega. I use Keynote on my iPad to give talks but I need to take my iPad out of the case to do this which seems silly to have to do. I imagine that the Apple digital AV adaptor has the same problem but I have not tested it. Secondly, the iPad + Contega is difficult to hold while reading while I am on my back due to the way it was designed to be used as a stand. It requires that you either fold the entire case back on itself or hold it from the top. Seems like a fixable issue.

    I have attempted to contact Pad and Quill three times, once through their website and again via e-mail, to ask if the adaptor issue was a general problem or specific to my Contega. I have not heard back from them after waiting several weeks. I called the customer service number listed on their website and was not even certain that I was contacting Pad and Quill; my call went right to voice-mail and the company name was not mentioned. I have subsequently called again and again the call went to voice mail, during business hours, but at least this time they identify themselves as Pad and Quill. Regardless, I still have not heard back from the company. Less like Rolls Royce customer service and more like Chrysler circa 1985. I guess when Pad and Quill says on their website that they have “Authentic Customer Service” you can’t argue with that, whatever it means. I am authentically annoyed at being ignored though.
    In terms of my experience with the company, they have good front-end stuff but extremely poor follow-up. If you’re looking to buy one of Pad and Quill’s cases, which are nicely made, don’t plan on using one of Apple’s adaptor with it and if you don’t need the stand feature of the Contega, buy the Octavo as it seems like it would be more like holding a book while you’re reclined. If you’re looking to buy one as a gift for someone, I suggest making sure you know how they will use it before you buy. Or buy a case from one of the many companies that you can actually contact.

  • elimilchman

    There are indeed a wide variety of fine iPad cases to choose from, like the Vaja sleeve. However, the Contega is much more like a Rolls Royce — sturdy, boxy, regal — than the Vaja, which has more flair. 

  • jonnyshocko

    Thanks for the recommendation, just bought it!

  • AvoidDroid

    You’re right. Vaja outclasses this one by a long shot. Unless the Contega looks a whole lot better in person than it does in the pictures…sorry…but it looks more like a Ford Pinto than a Rolls.

  • Elena

    If the Contega is the Rolls Royce, I’m not sure what you’d call this one; maybe the Taj Mahal of iPad cases.