Sometimes I really love my work, and this week has been one of those times where the love of good craftsmanship has made my job a lot of fun. First, I highlighted the latest in a series of amazing iPad cases from the folks at DODOcase, and now I get to tell you about the handmade leather Alano iPad cases now available from Portenzo.
These cases start at US$124.95, and the pricing goes up depending on the finish and options that you select. As such, the Portenzo Alano iPad cases are really in a class of their own -- they're the Lexus of iPad cases.
As I mentioned, there are options that you can request when ordering your Alano. Those options are what make the case so unique. For example, you can start out with just a plain-Jane black leather cover at no extra cost. If you'd prefer the awesome Tesoro design, which features an old map of the Mediterranean tooled into the leather, you'll pay a premium of $29.95.
There are six finishes available, three of which are showing a status of "sold out" right now. The three available finishes are the Midnight Black, Black Widow Wingtip, and Tesoro. For the elastic band that holds the case closed in transit, there's a choice of nine different colors.
If you'd like to have the case personally embossed in one of four styles, that's an additional $14.95 charge. Get the IntelliStand feature, which I'll discuss shortly, and you'll add another $19.95. Want an opening for the rear-facing camera? Add $4.95. A stylus and a stylus compartment can be added for another $9.95 each, and you can even have the stylus personalized for another $4.95.
Adding options to a Portenzo Alano case is just like adding options to a car. You can start out with a fairly reasonable price tag that suddenly balloons to a lot of money. In the case of the Tesoro case that I'm reviewing, the available options bring the price up to $179.80.
So, are you getting your money's worth with this case? In my opinion, yes. First, the Tesoro design is very eye-catching and people will ask about it. Next, the IntelliStand feature is something that you won't want to miss, as it provides an extra bit of flexibility in how you can prop up your iPad. Rather than describe the ways that you can bend, fold, and otherwise flex your Alano case, here's a short video from the folks at Portenzo:
Pretty cool, huh? If you read my review of the revised DODOcase the other day, you'll note that the lack of a more flexible stand was one of my criticisms. The IntelliStand is a great way to add the flexibility of more mundane cases to a beautifully rendered leather case.
Portenzo's iPad tray is also a work of art. It uses laminated wood strips to fully encase the iPad, with specially-designed rubber-like inserts that cushion the corners. There's a specially designed cutout that encloses the speaker area on the iPad 2 and new iPad, and it does a much better job of allowing sound "out" than other similar cases I've reviewed. Both this cutout and the camera hole cutout are lined with neoprene pads. The camera hole is cleverly sized and placed so that the iPad camera lens is protected by the elastic band while in transit.
How do these cases look? They use one solid piece of leather as the cover, so you see the leather both on the inside and outside. The Tesoro case is just breathtaking -- it's honestly one of the most beautiful iPad cases I've ever seen.
The cases are made in the USA (Saint Louis, MO for those who are wondering), and the attention to customer service is awesome. Each case comes with a hand-signed wrapper on the outside describing how leather products will change in appearance over time, as well as a personalized tag showing the custom features of your case.
One more thing: if you want a special piece of art or a corporate logo on the cover, contact the staff at Portenzo and they can give you pricing on creating a laser-engraved special edition.
Enough of my gushing over the looks of these cases; how about how they work? The cases come with the traditional magnetized cover to turn your second- or third-generation iPad on and off. Due to the natural flexibility of the leather, you'll want to make sure that you use the elastic band to keep the cover closed as it has a tendency to open up and turn on your iPad if you don't.
All buttons and ports are easily accessible on your iPad with the exception of one -- the on/off sleep/wake switch. To access that, you'll need to remove your iPad from the case. I was surprised by this omission, since I do a lot of screenshots of my iPad screen for reviews and I need access to that button.
Update: This video shows that there's no need for an external power button like the one on DODOcases. There's a "hot spot" that you push to turn the iPad on and off.
The IntelliStand function is wonderful. When you just want the case to do its job of protecting the iPad, it's out of the way. When you want to stand the iPad up for viewing a movie or something, you just pull the cover behind the iPad out a little ways and the magnets holding the flexible part in place give way. Find your favorite iPad position, and let go, and it stays in place.
Your iPad will definitely be protected in style in the Alano cases.
Of all of the iPad cases that I've reviewed over the past two and a half years, the Portenzo Alano cases are without a doubt the most unique. They are literally one of a kind, with each case being hand made of a unique piece of leather, and the details are outstanding. You'll pay a bit more for the quality and the style, but you are definitely getting your money's worth.
High-quality construction of leather, wood, and other materials
Does not use stick-on pads in the corners of the iPad tray (still a problem with DODOcase)
IntelliStand option is a clever and well-implemented way to have more flexibility in using the case as a stand
Many ways to customize your order, including outside finish, addition of IntelliStand or camera hole, different elastic band colors, embossing or custom laser engraving (contact Portenzo for details)
Good warranty and return policy if you're not completely happy with the case
Extremely easy to put the iPad into and take the iPad out of the case
Made in the USA
No access to the on/off sleep/wake button on the top of the iPad
Who is it for?
iPad owners who are willing to pay a premium for a truly luxury iPad case
Regrettably, I have to loosen my grip on the Portenzo Alano Tesoro case and another one with a plain black leather finish, as I need to give them away to two lucky TUAW readers. Here are the rules for the giveaway:
Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before August 11, 2012 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
You may enter only once.
Two winners will be selected. One receives a Portenzo Alano Tesoro custom iPad 2/3 case valued at US$179.80, while the other receives a Portenzo Alano Midnight Black custom iPad 2/3 case valued at $149.85.