This is going to be a quick review because we don't review cases that often -- there are simply too many! However, Apple seems quite proud of their case for the iPad, so I wanted to touch upon my early impressions. No torture test this time as we'll give this guy away, but below are some notable aspects of the sleeve.
The material is soft and rubbery, not unlike neoprene but denser and quite durable. Nail scratches didn't seem to faze it, but anything white or gray will appear quite brilliantly because the surface is black. Really, really black -- like the ship in 'Restaurant At the End of the Universe' black. The seams appear to be held together by some heat-sealing or glue, but in time they could conceivably come apart. There's some flexible plastic around the part of the sleeve that holds the edges of the iPad, however, and I mashed on the seams a bit and the rubber/plastic just stretched, so the seam appears quite sturdy. That extra plastic ensures a snug fit around the bezel and keeps the iPad from shifting. There's a stiffer piece of plastic for the cover (which folds back to become a base) which I was able to bend over 45 degrees without worry. It is sturdy and flexible, perhaps magical too?
Finally there's a little flap that holds the iPad in, just inside the part that will be folding over and back repeatedly. This is the one fail point, in my opinion. There's no real remedy other than some mechanical hinge, but the hinged portion of this case will just keep flexing until the materials wear out. That will likely be 4 iPad revisions from now, but there it is. The iPad took a bit of squeezing the first time, but once you figure out that even pressure is required on both sides of the pad you won't be regretting that dock you bought. While it could be easier to remove the iPad from the sleeve, it would make it flimsier too, I think.
The only downsides to this case, aside from the hefty $39 price tag are the unavoidables: it isn't waterproof (Apple doesn't really do waterproof cases) and many apps (iPhone and iPad) are lessened by the angle of repose this case provides. In other words, if you fold the cover back to the intended angle for resting the iPad on your lap, many iPhone apps that rotate will be upside-down, or at the wrong angle for comfort. There are even some iPad apps (Game Table, for one) that aren't rotating in that direction! That's a bummer, but not really Apple's fault. I see an uptick in Otterbox case sales for iPad, if you happen to be an avid reader at the beach. Either way, you will want a case for you iPad. If you can spare the nearly 40 bucks, get this one. It'll last at least until they move a switch 30cm and make it obsolete.
To see some close-ups of the case in various seated positions, plus seams and build quality check out the gallery below. To see how to get the iPad in and out of the sleeve, check out the video on the next page.