By James Hicks:
Well, it seems like weâ€™ve been waiting for the iPad case called the Quirky Cloak since day one when numerous sites hailed it as the â€œBest iPad Caseâ€ sight unseen. Is this the case (so to speak)? As I looked at the early iPad cases, any one I considered needed to function as a stand as well. The appeal of the Cloak with itâ€™s multiple options was obvious. Though there are an increasing number of case choices out there, on paper the Cloak seems to have it all. Weâ€™ll see.
Quirky is a â€œsocial product development site.â€ Anyone can submit a product idea, along with a $99 submission fee, and have the Quirky community comment on the productâ€™s design, logo, target market, etc. If, after all this concept honing, your product is selected for production, Quirkyâ€™s industrial designers and engineers take over. After production, you collect a portion of sales. As a Quirky community member, I was able to follow numerous design and manufacturing pitfalls which ultimately delayed the Cloakâ€™s release from the initial date in late May to the actual release about 2 months later.
The Cloak comes in 4 colors: blue, pink, green, and black. The appearance is sleek and slim, much smaller in form than the Marware Eco-vue leather portfolio I had been using previously. The material that covers the cloak is a soft non-stick rubber, with a texture reminiscent of a bicycle tire. It feels nice in the hands, and the non-slip surface does two important things: it keeps the iPad from sliding out of your hands, and keeps it from slipping on smooth surfaces when folded in landscape mode. This was a problem with my Marware case . On the kitchen counter the folded back cover would slide on the smooth surface under the weight of the iPad. With the Eco-vue I ended up gluing a piece of rubber on the edge to prevent this. The Cloak has no such trouble and feels fantastically stable on the counter. I can even press the home button without the iPad moving in response.
The iPad slips into what is essentially a soft rubber skin. The fit is easy, but a little too loose in my opinion. The skin deforms too easily, shifting under traction, but not to the point of allowing the iPad to displace or fall out of the skin. The port holes remain open, but the skin otherwise covers the iPad completely, including the ambient light sensor. I donâ€™t know if this is important or not. I haven’t directly observed any difficulties. The skin is rather thin, and while I would expect good scratch protection, there isnâ€™t a lot to protect a falling iPad, much like any other gel or skin cover. The skin case is then hinged to a much firmer front cover which folds, book like, over the iPad. While not padded itself, the cover actually contacts the far edge of the skin, so there doesnâ€™t appear to be any contact with the iPad screen. A screen protector is not included. The cover folds completely around for reading, but there are problems with this position – more on that in a bit.
Inside the front cover are two plastic tabs. One folds out to create a stand for portrait mode. This doesnâ€™t feel sturdy, but seems to get the job done. Having lived with the iPad for a couple of months now, Iâ€™m not sure when I would actually use it propped upright in portrait view, but Iâ€™m sure I thought it was important at the time. Are there cookbook programs out there that function in this position? Do you read in portrait view while eating your breakfast? I wonder if it would buckle if it was on a bouncy surface, like on a turbulent airplane? The other tab is the same sort of prop weâ€™ve come to love in other cases which allows for a decent typing position in landscape mode. This feels just fine. The tabs are held in position by a little snap, and my one unfounded (so far) concern is that if one of the plastic props were to loosen or otherwise dislodge, it would bounce against the ipad screen, and might cause scratching.
There is nothing to hold the cover closed, no latch or magnet, but in my backpack it seems to be secure, though I keep watching for flexing of the front cover. I think that I may get that screen protector…
The biggest, perhaps deal breaking, problem with the Cloak is that it is really heavy. It is 1.2 lbs, and at first blush it isnâ€™t obvious why. My guess is that the hinge and the reinforced front cover bear the lionâ€™s share of the mass over the relative flimsiness of the skin case. In the past several days, holding the iPad has been frankly unpleasant and fatiguing. Similarly, reading in a seated position, was uncomfortable with the weight of the hard plastic backing and around two pounds of case and pad pressing into my fingers. I ended up quickly shifting the iPad onto my knee. In this position or otherwise resting on my lap, (or belly for in-bed movies and reading) itâ€™s fine. But I use my iPad all over the house, often typing or manipulating with one hand while holding with the other. Maybe I’m just a wimp, but supporting a pound of iPad and a pound of Quirky gets really tiring really fast.
Overall, the Quirky Cloak is a sleek, functional case that suffers from a weight problem. A casual overview of case-plus-stand offerings on Amazon suggest that the Cloak is a good 6-8 oz heavier than the competition. The initial offering of the Cloak was $42, but now is on the site is listed at $54.99 US. There are numerous photos and videos on the site which can be accessed at quirky.com