BlackBerry Playbook Case Review: Pop! for BlackBerry PlayBook

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I cannot help but feel a bit bad for the BlackBerry PlayBook. After all, the device has a great form factor, excellent build quality, a responsive touchscreen, and two things that are lacking on most tablets: both the front and rear facing cameras are quite good and the forward facing stereo speakers don’t sound half bad. Still, weeks after the device was first introduced into the market, the number of high-quality applications for it is disgraceful low. The result is a device whose utility continues to be all but crippled as a result.

I would not keep it hanging around except for the fact that, as noted, the cameras and speakers work better than just about any other tablet I’ve seen. It works quite well for listening to Slacker Radio and video looks and sounds excellent on it. Those use scenarios scream for a case with a built-in stand so that the device can sit on your desk at just the right angle. Fortunately, Case-Mate has just the stand. Its Pop! case for BlackBerry PlayBook protects the 7′ tablet and lets it sit on your desk at a comfortable angle. Here’s a look.

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From Case-Mate:

Dynamic duos take notice, there’s a new twosome in town. A support system like no other, the Pop! BlackBerry PlayBook case brings a new standard to the power of two.

Co-molded materials of plastic and soft rubber unite to create a hard case with a soft touch. The lightweight plastic body of the Pop! protects from unforeseeable impacts, while keeping your screen lifted away from surfaces. The Pop! features contemporary color pairings to create a modern look for your PlayBook. Rubber sides make for an easy grip. Inside, the soft material hugs your PlayBook like a glove. Not even Batman and Robin are that tight.

Co-molding of lightweight plastic and soft rubber for a seamless protective case

Form fit feature covers back and corners

Protective lay flat design keeps your screen from hitting surfaces when device is placed on its face

Available in two-toned color combinations: black/grey, white/grey and pink/grey

Impact resistant, flexible plastic shell

Access to all ports and functions


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As you can see from Case-Mate’s description, the case is made of two different types of material. There is a hard plastic shell and soft rubber on the interior and at highlight points on it. The rear sides of the case have this material in the exact position where it would be gripped when held in landscape. This gives a nice, comfortable feel that also enhances the ability to keep a firm grip on the tablet.

In other words, the combination of materials not only provides some visual interest but ensures that the case is comfortable to hold and super protective of the device.

If you look at the back of the case you’ll see that there is a cutout for the rear facing camera. The built-in stand sits flush with the case when not being used, but pops out with the flick of a finger.

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All of the cutouts for the ports and buttons are precise.

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In addition to leaving the headphone jack and stereo microphones open and accessible, the plastic that sits over the volume controls and the sleep/awake but actually add to the ergonomics of the device. How so? The sleep/awake button on the PlayBook is probably the worst designed button I’ve ever seen. It’s too small to easily find without looking at the device and it is all but impossible to depress without a good bit of focus and concentration. Because the case covers the button it gives you a better target for waking the device up.

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Once you flip the stand out from the case it stays that its open position without a problem.

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With the stand open, the device sits at a great viewing angle. It is “adjustable” and will stay in most positions you choose, although there is no mechanism for locking the stand at various angles and it may “self adjust” if bumped.

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Here’s a look at the standard from the side.

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And from behind with the stand fully extended.

If you would like to get a better understanding of how this case functions, then you might want to watch this video from the company.

In all, the Pop! is an excellent case for the BlackBerry PlayBook. When I first received it I thought it was a bit too chunky and it detracted from the device. As I’ve been using it, however, I’ve come to appreciate the design more and more. The soft rubber interior cradles the device with a nice layer of protection. The soft rubber that covers the sides and a small portion of the back adds an extra level of “grippiness” to a device that will often be held in the one’s hand. They only add to the ergonomics when you are holding the device in landscape but it is quite clear that landscape is the preferred orientation of the device, at least from BlackBerry’s perspective. The built-in stand works quite well, and it is designed in a manner that it does not add too much thickness to the device.

In all, if you are looking to carry the PlayBook with you on the go, and expect that you will be using it sitting on a flat surface a fair bit of the time, this is a great case for you to consider purchasing. The materials are excellent, the build quality is on par with what we have come to expect from the company, and the case enhances the playbook’s utility. It is available in Black/Cool Grey, Pink/Cool Grey and White/Cool Grey and can be ordered directly from the Case-Mate website.

MSRP: $39.99

What I Like: Offers good protection, adds visual interest; posts and buttons well-placed; fixes the sleep/awake button issue to some extent; built-in stand works well

What Needs Improvement: A bit on the chunky side


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13 replies

  1. If it had a removable cover (like the otterbox) this would be my ideal case.

  2. Found one case review (for the Blackberry Playbook contest!)

  3. I saw the  Gear Diary at 5 Giveaway: Day 1 Win a BlackBerry PlayBook and I thought I’d give it a shot. But Dan, you forgot you reviewed two PlayBook cases in the spring so I’ll post in both.

    Neither the CaseMate nor the Pop! does what I want a tablet case to do. I
    don’t care if my chassis gets scratched up, I care about my screen. My
    HP Slate’s case is like an open binder with a hard screen cover and
    access to all the ports/buttons/cameras. It’s also a matter of seconds
    to pop the Slate out and put it in it’s dock. With a case like this, I
    can throw the tablet in my bag without worrying about what else might be
    banging around in there.

    A different case solution was one I had on an old Motion m1300 tablet,
    It snapped over the screen and, when unsnapped, had a keyboard. The
    m1300 also had a cheaper case without the keyboard which could snap over
    the screen while carrying the tablet and snap on the back while using
    the tablet.

    Of the two, the Pop! would be the one I would consider because of the
    built in stand. Still, this is of limited value to me. Of the cases
    you’ve mentioned, the Sena Jornal is the one I’d go for.

  4. I’m commenting to be entered in the GearDiary 5th Anniversary giveaway. Pick me! 😀

    I think I would prefer the Pop! case because it has a stand. The Barely There case is nice too, but I think the stand would be more helpful.

  5. I’m a big fan of Case-Mate but for a device I’d use primarily for work I’d probably select the Otterbox Blackberry Playbook Defender. Smart design, I can bang in on the desk or drop it into my laptop bag without worry. I also prefer the matte finish to the glossy.

  6. In for the Gear Diary  at 5 Giveaway.

    I will go with Barely There, as it is not bulky and I don’t need stand

  7. (For the GD 5th Anniversary Giveaway)

    I’d prefer the popcase because I’d definitely prefer to prop it up. I’d
    like to be able to read and what not with it elevated and out of my

  8. I’m also commenting for the GearDiary 5th Anniversary giveaway.  C’mon, who wouldn’t like a self-standing case?  I know I would!

  9. I am commenting for the GearDiary 5th Anniversary giveaway. I say that this case is much more sleek and sexy model and who wouldn’t want case stand? It’s beautiful!

  10. I am commenting on this post on behalf of the 5th Anniversay Giveaway as well! I actually would prefer this case over the other Case-Mate case since it looks a little more rugged and is a little tougher. But the case stand is the main feature here, I’d want it!

  11. I’m commenting for the fifth anniversary giveaway! I would prefer the Pop case because it has a stand. I also tweeted here:!/VeronicaMoralis/status/115051971974672384

  12. If I win the Playbook at stake in GD’s 5th Anniversary Giveaway, I would like to have the Pop! case. I would probably prefer to use the Playbook bare but I’ll slip it into the Pop! case when I let my nephew play with it or when I need to prop it up on my work desk.

  13. I’m commenting for the 5th Gear Diary Anniversary. I prefer the Pop! case because of the awesome stand feature, but this case’s minimalism also seems like it would suit some people.