Dan: There are iPad cases and then… there are iPad cases. The Orbino Padova for iPad is an iPad case: It is made of premium leather, it has a premium design, and it carries a premium price tag.
Judie: Orbino has been making leather accessories for PDAs since at least 2001, when I can remember Julie reviewing their Palm V Series case on The Gadgeteer. In more recent years they have “gone Mac”, creating Luxury cases for iPhones, iPods, MacBook Pros … and now the iPad. Dan discovered the Padova case when it was first announced; available in “premium bark tanned Italian leathers”, ostrich or crocodile, the prices of the more exotic leather models make the $209 bark-tanned version seem a bargain.
Dan: I placed and order for the deep red Padova. I usually prefer to get my device cases in black. I like the conservative color, and I like the fact that it allows me to use my devices in both a professional and casual setting. In this case, however, the red leather case caught my eye, and I really thought that it would be a nice way to have such a fancy case. (In addition, I had a suspicion that I would review the case and then it would be making its way down to Texas, and I figured that Judie was not going to go for something as conservative as black.)
Dan: When you review a product that you have purchased, you can’t help but include the experience of ordering it and taking delivery of the product as part of the overall review. For that reason we can’t go any further with this review without first talking about the experience that I’ve had in actually getting my hands on it. I have documented much of the experience here so I’ll only go to the shortest summary of it. I ordered the case, heard nothing, inquired about canceling it, heard nothing, threatened to cancel my order, heard nothing, began a dispute with PayPal — and then immediately got a response and was told I would be receiving the case later that week, I agreed to continue the ordering process, and then — a week later — received an e-mail that the leather was not available and that it would be longer than they expected without any indication of what the actual time they might be. I then re-pursued canceling the order, at which point I finally received a letter of apology and an offer for me to receive the case at 50% off if I would reactivate the order. In the end, I received the case for just over $100, which was certainly a bargain. I appreciate the gesture that was made in compensating me for the exceptionally frustrating experience, but it doesn’t come close to matching the degree of frustration I had with the company over all.Until there are significant changes in their customer service approach, no matter how nice the products are I am personally hard-pressed to recommend them to others.
Judie: Dan, I watched the entire drama unfold, and I was blown away by the lack of response for an item this pricey. If we had been talking about a $30 silicone skin, I would have agreed that the customer service was poor, but at the lack of communication wouldn’t have been quite as nerve-wracking. But when you are dealing with a luxury goods maker, and they charge your credit card for the full amount and then will not respond to your inquiries as weeks go by without the product being sent or an indication of how long it might be … well, it is simply inexcusable. I have to agree with you that it doesn’t matter how nice the item might be, the lack of customer service would be a deal-killer.
Padova Case for the iPad, The Premium Hand Stitched Flip Case for the iPad
Form Fitting- Made to measure for the iPad
Hand Stitched- With waxed thread for tailored fit and tactile grip
Premium Leather- crafted from fine leathers and exotic skins
Brushed Metal Home Button- with Orbino’s push through button system
SleekProtective Cover and Viewing Stand- with secure magnetic closure. Opens to become a viewing stand in both vertical and horizontal orientation
Cutouts- for volume, dock connector, speakers, screen rotation lock and headphone jack
Judie: When the package has been opened and the felt wrapper has been peeled back, the deep red Padova iPad case is revealed. I think this color would be better described as cordovan or burgundy, but whatever you call it, your first impression will likely be one of color, texture and smell … as in sumptuous, expensively tanned leather with a beautifully patterned grain.
Dan: When the case came I was immediately impressed. I love when high-end products are beautifully packaged, but not wastefully so… this was exactly that. The “box” was closed by a string that wrapped around the entire package. That alone felt luxurious. The felt inside just served to continue the experience. In all it was an impressive unboxing experience the speaks to the product’s quality and positioning as a luxury product.
Judie: The Padova is a holster-style case with a protective flip-cover; the cover is held in place by two round magnets sealed between layers of leather on both the holster and cover. When closed, the cover will not come undone, as the magnets are quite strong. I have the WiFi iPad model, but Dan has the 3G, and this quickly became an issue for him.
Dan: The magnets worry me… a lot. I’ve heard lots and lots of stories about magnets in cases causing issues with various functions of the iPad, and as a result I have avoided using them. With the exception of the magnets wreaking havoc with the iPad’s internal compass, I didn’t run into any noticeable issues, but it was still an area of concern for me. That noted, they are as Judie points out, quite strong and they do a great job of keeping the cover closed.
Judie: The front and back pieces are held together with decorative thread that has been whip-stitched on the sides and a glued seam on the bottom. The glued seam concerns me, as it seems like it should have been machine stitched; I wonder if over time the glue will degrade.
On the back, there is a leather slot for the included “premium metal typing stand”. “Orbino® Made in Italy” is tastefully embossed in silver at the bottom center.
Dan: I was really taken with the wide stitches that were used to secure the leather pieces to one another. I had not run into this before on an iPad or iPhone case and really liked the look. At the same time I could not decide if it gave the case a high-end or a more rustic look. Either way it gives serious interest to the case.
Judie: A silver colored ‘Orbino Italy’ metal button covers the iPad’s home button, and when pressed it pushes the iPad’s Home button underneath.When received, the letters on this case’s button were not quite straight because it was cocked ever so slightly to the left. For some reason that really bothered me, so I used a pair of cloth-covered jewelers pliers to adjust it just a smidgen.
Dan: This was a big issue for me. The hinge works fine, but it only opens so far and is not removable. The result is that the cover doesn’t go all the way back and “fold” on to the back of the case and you can’t remove it. It made for some awkward usability issues for me. (More on this in a bit.)
Judie: I noticed that it was quite stiff when I first received the case from you, and I was worried that this would be an issue. Over time the leather has settled down and the cover does lie better than it had before. However, while stitching has been used to hold the outer leather tabs to the metal hinge, the leather tab wrapped around the hinge which attaches to the back of the case is glued — at least at its top. I can see where glue has been used to secure these cover components because they gape and expose it when the cover is flipped back, and I can’t help but wonder if this will eventually become a problem.
The iPad is inserted through the opening at the top of the holster; a round cutout is perfectly centered for the ambient light sensor.
Dan: Yup, the iPad slides in easily , and since Orbino chose to make the TOP the open part you don’t run into the issues I have with some other cases where the open part is on one of the long sides, and the result is concerns the device will slip out the case’s side when the iPad is held in a landscape position.
Judie: When inserted, the iPad is framed by sides of the case’s leather holster. I have been using the Padova for two weeks, and the only real annoyance I’ve run into concerning its design has had to do with the leather on either side of the screen getting in the way when trying to move apps from screen to screen; it stops my finger prematurely, making it difficult to scoot the app far enough to the left or right to cause it to jump to the intended screen. Otherwise, the leather holster does not impede any of the functions on the iPad’s front side.
Dan: This is my preferred way of an iPad being secured in a case and the execution is excellent. I hear what you are saying about the sides getting in the way of moving apps Judie, but that is nothing compared to the issues created when the method used to secure the iPad are the various corner elastic systems that so many cases use.
Judie: I like the way that this looks better than corner elastic, but I can’t say that they have ever posed a problem for me when it came to securing or protecting a device — I’ve certainly never had a device slip out of its corner elastic and cause a problem, but that may just be me.
Judie: The edges of the iPad’s two bottom corners are covered, and even though there is an open area on each corner, I believe that the leather present will protect the device to some degree, should it be dropped. The volume rocker is covered, but there are cutouts over each side of the rocker, and pressing a cutout will activate the appropriate side of the lever. Perhaps the worst news is that the orientation lock is completely covered. Granted, if you keep your device unlocked it won’t matter to you, but if you enjoy reading on your side in bed (for instance), or if you prefer not to have the screen jump if you are jostled, then it will be an irritant that the iPad must be scooted up in the case so that the switch can be adjusted.
Cutouts are present on the Padova’s bottom so that the sync & charge cable may be used without removing the device; there are also three cutouts for the iPad’s speaker. I found that the cutout on the far left was not quite properly aligned. Yes, I am being picky, but for this type of money I’m entitled.
As there are no buttons, ports or switches on the left side, it is left intact.
Whether the Padova’s cover is closed or flipped back, there is unfettered access to the power button and headphone jack. It’s not obvious because of the angle of the picture, but with the lid closed the microphone is not covered.
The Orbino Premium Metal Typing Stand’s purpose is two-fold. It will create a slight incline when the cover is folded back and the iPad is in landscape mode, and it can also be used to secure the cover when it is flipped behind the iPad. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk about the metal stand’s installation process, first.
To insert the stand, you unscrew the bolt on the inside of the apparatus. Then you slide the stand into the leather slot on the rear of the Padova case, align the hole in the leather with the hole in the stand, and then insert the bolt.
Once installed, the stand looks like a spring-loaded clamp, mainly to be used as a means to secure the cover when the iPad is in use.
When the cover is flipped behind the case, it can then be secured with the clamp.
When the iPad is laid on it’s back, the clamp becomes a surprisingly stable easel, raising the iPad about 20º for more comfortable use of the keyboard.
If you prefer to use your iPad in a portrait orientation, the cover can be released from the clamp and it will stand erect; standing like this the iPad is very stable, and unless the surface is extra slick, there shouldn’t be a problem with the cover sliding. I work on a wooden table, and the iPad won’t budge when it’s in this position. If you use a product like Air Display, your iPad will be in proper position for viewing …
… even when in landscape. The bonus here is that you can attach your sync & charge cable when it’s in the landscape orientation.
Dan: The clamp really impressed me when I first saw it and set it up. It is unique and the small metal clamp has a weight and a refinement that is a testament to the cases’ quality. At the same time I found it… awkward. And that brings up my biggest gripe with the case. For me device cases are a constant balance between device protection, aesthetics and… usability. The Padova gets high marks in the aesthetics category, very good marks in the protection category but does not fare nearly as well in the usability category. The clamp sits permanently and awkwardly on the back even when the case is not being used. The cover flipped back but continued to get in the way when I was holding my iPad. In addition, I quickly came to realize that this case is intended to be used with the iPad held in one position, portrait, more than any other case I have used. Yes it can be used in all four orientations, but it is clear from the start that there is a preferred way for the iPad to be held when in this case.
Judie: Oh, I totally agree that this is a case for people who primarily like to use the iPad in portrait mode … and that’s how I prefer to use it, unless I am working with email or playing a landscape oriented game. I will say that a week ago I would have totally agreed with you about the awkward way the cover didn’t fit against the back and the clip being awkward, but through use I have seen the cover calm down and using the clip has become second nature. That doesn’t mean the clip isn’t without a serious downside, however. Take a look at this picture and the permanent circular dent in the cover where it lines up with the clip’s bolt. (Hint: it’s in the upper middle of the cover)
Dan: Overall the experience of using the iPad is, at least for me, diminished when it is in the case. Since the iPad is, at the end of the day, all about the experience of using it, I quickly came to the conclusion that this is a gorgeous case but not the case for me. My decision to purchase it in a “Judie-friendly” color was affirmed. I used it for a few days, and then it was on the way down to Texas. My conclusion is that it is an impressive case with lots of “wow” built-in, but it is NOT the case for me.
I like the reddish color (pecan or brown would have been fine, too!), and love the leather’s rigidity as well as the overall look. I don’t have a 3G iPad, so I don’t use GPS, and I haven’t noticed any issues whatsoever from the magnets. I have to admit though, that if I had been through the customer service nightmare you had to endure in order to even get the case in my hands, I probably would have had a bad taste in my mouth about the whole experience that would have colored my enjoyment of the case. At least Orbino has since posted that there is a 5 – 7 week wait when ordering, but that’s still too little, too late.
So is the Padova worth ordering? I’m torn. The case is beautiful and unique, and I enjoy using it, but there are a few areas that concern me — never mind the poor customer service — like how glue is used for the bottom of the holster as well as the top hinge, and how the magnets may cause issues for those who need the compass to properly function. Buuut, this case has replaced the Vaja ivolution Top that I was using … in fact, the ivolution is on its way to Dan so he can see if that style case might be a better fit for him; I’m sure he’ll let us know.
The Orbino Padova Case for the Apple iPad is currently available for pre-order from the manufacturer. Expect a 5 – 7 week delay after ordering.
MSRP: $209 as tested (deep red bark tanned Italian leather), $569 for ostrich and $689 for crocodile
What We Like: The case is beautiful and protective; there are multiple ways to use or stand the iPad when it’s in the case; the Padova looks and feels expensive, as it should!
What Needs Improvement: The magnets used to secure the flap will wreak havoc on the iPad’s compass; the iPad must be removed from the case to activate the orientation lock; the edges of the leather holster make sliding apps from screen to screen difficult; glue is used on the bottom of the case instead of stitching; the case’s design has a limiting effect on the experience of using the iPad (at least for Dan); the ordering experience and customer service interactions are about as bad as either of us has ever seen or experienced