Folio-style cases are pretty popular for the iPad 2. They come in all sorts of designs, materials and thicknesses. Today we're going to be looking at the Candy Convertible from Hard Candy Cases.
The first thing that strikes you about the Candy Convertible after you've prised it out of the packaging is just how nice it feels. Made from faux-nubuck, it feels just like the real thing, both smooth and velvety soft to the touch. It's available in red and white with a black version on the way. I got my hands on the black version of the case, which suits the style and form of the iPad 2 very well indeed.
The iPad 2 slides into the case held in by a simple flap that tucks underneath the tablet holding it in place very securely. The beauty of the nubuck-style material is that it's pretty grippy, meaning such a simple mechanism can secure the iPad 2 without weight, bulk or any possibility of scratching your pristine tablet.
The case frames the screen on the iPad 2 well -- a little too well in fact, covering too much of the front bezel of the screen. While the front facing camera and the majority of the Home button are easily accessible, the case's frame covers the iPad 2's ambient light sensor. Now we all know the automatic screen brightness adjustment in iOS can be frustrating at times, but to not have the option to use it was a real downer. With the sensor covered the iPad 2 assumes it's in the dark all the time, permanently keeping the screen dim. The only option is to disable automatic brightness adjustment and manually manage your screen brightness. On the iPad 2 it's not that much of a chore, with the brightness slider accessible from the multitasking bar, but all it needed was a small cut out from the top of the Candy Convertible's frame to accommodate the light sensor. Perhaps it's something that can be corrected in future shipping cases, but when questioned about this Hard Candy failed to reply.
The rest of the iPad 2 is freely accessible within the case. The buttons, ports, mic, camera and speaker all have suitably sized cutouts in the side and back of the case. This does, however, expose parts of the iPad 2 even when the case is closed, leaving things like the camera especially vulnerable to damage. The screen itself, perhaps the most important part of the iPad, is well protected though with a rigid flap that covers the the screen.
Unfortunately there is no clasp or strap to keep the Convertible closed when your iPad is not in use. In practice this didn't cause much of a problem in day-to-day operations, but if you were to put your iPad in a large bag, there is the possibility of the flap to opening leaving your iPad's screen exposed. Hard Candy also didn't see fit to bestow the Candy Convertible with the magnets required to automatically turn off the iPad 2's screen when you close the cover, something that meant I left the screen on by accident on many occasions having got used to the Smart Cover and many other cases that have that auto-sleep functionality built-in.
The Candy Convertible is designed so the front flap also folds to support the iPad 2 in a landscape orientation, both stood up perpendicular to the table or propped up at about a 40-degree angle for easier typing. The front cover folds round the back and fits in a small flap on the back, which holds the cover in place. Unfortunately the arrangement means that the case will not stand up in portrait, but the landscape stand makes for a decent video watching experience. The inside of the front flap also has a little credit-card sized pocket, handy if you need to carry business cards or a credit card. Just don't expect to get the card out of there in a hurry because the faux-nubuck grips the card pretty hard.
The Candy Convertible is a decent all-rounder. It's well made and will last considerably longer than some of the cheaper no-name folio style cases out there. The case offers good protection while being thin enough to not add much extra bulk to the svelte frame of the iPad 2, with the tablet and case reaching about 1.4 cm thick at it's bulkiest point (dimension in the case 19.7 cm x 25.4 cm x 1.4 cm). It stands up reasonably well using the front cover as a support in landscape -- it's just a shame it won't stand up in a portrait orientation, and that Hard Candy failed to include magnets for auto-sleep and covered the ambient light sensor with the inside frame. If you can get over those drawbacks, however, then the Candy Convertible looks good, feels nice and will protect your iPad 2 reasonably well.