Highly specialized Booqpad is either perfect or pointless


Getting work done. Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

I started German language school a few weeks back, and I was looking forward to testing out the Booqpad. The combination iPad case and paper notepad seemed ideal for using in class. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. Not only is the case oddly tacky – especially weird given the build quality of Booq’s other gear – but it is awkward to use.

The stand is sturdy, but requires some studying to make it work.

The case consists of a plastic shell for the iPad that attaches to the main case with magnets, plus a main, wraparound cover that contains a paper notepad and functions as a stand.

Here are the problems:
1. Using the iPad and paper pad side by side is awkward.
2. Although you can separate the two parts, this leaves a lot of cover to fold under the paper pad, or a lot of cover getting in the way on the desk.
3. When the iPad isn’t in the mothership section, you lose all stand functions.
4. The iPad shell section feels cheap, with a lining that peels up at the edges (although the main cover is well-made).

In the weeks since, I’ve found that the case is just plain awkward to use. The only advantage is that you get to keep the iPad and paper together when you’re traveling to and from class, but even that has problems: The case is bulky, because it has to fit the paper too, and if you’re not using it with the paper insert then you have a big gap between the iPad and the cover.

Works for lefties and righties.

On the other hand, the two-part design really makes the case work well as a stand. It’s a bit confusing at first, but the versatility more than makes up for it. I like having the iPad set at an almost 45-degree angle so I can easily check my English-German dictionary while I’m, uh, checking Twitter.

A better setup

Thanks to this job, I have a ton of cases lying around, and I’ve found that the best in-class combo so far is the VersaCover section from the VersaKeyboard I reviewed plus the paper insert from the Booq, which is made form good, thick, toothy paper and has an open-flat, tear-off design.

The VersaCover holds the iPad at a great angle for class – steep enough to both see and to hide your IM sessions from the teacher, and shallow enough to be rock-solid when some moron in class kicks the desk after going out to take another frikkin’ phone call.


The Booqpad does have some neat tricks, as you can see in this video:

Those different stand angles do work, and are pretty sturdy, but don’t compensate for the awkwardness of the paper/pad combo. I’m torn here – I find the whole thing too much of a mess, and too specialized. I prefer a normal paper notebook and a different case. But if your whole day is spent in class or meetings and you always need paper and pixels, then maybe this is perfect for you.

Booqpad by Booq ($63 list)
The good: Well-made outer case, versatile stand.
The bad: Crappy inner case, bulky.
The verdict: Perfect/pointless, depending on what you need the case for. I find it too fussy, others might love its feature set.
Buy from Booq