[Editor’s note: This is a joint review by Judie and Julie that will be appearing simultaneously on Gear Diary and The Gadgeteer. Judie’s comments will be in black, and Julie’s will be in blue italics.]
Like many who own an Amazon Kindle or Kindle2, Julie and I have grown to greatly enjoy the convenience of carrying our current and future reading material on our own “virtual bookshelves.” The question of how to keep our Kindles protected was one that we had to answer fairly early on, seeing as Amazon did not include any cover with our pricey new readers. I kept mine inside a floppy Cole Haan for a while, but that all changed the day I received the Sky Dragon Kindle2 Cover in red from Oberon Design.
I have been protecting my Kindle 1 and 2 ebook readers with covers from M-edge. But for this review, I received the Tree of Life Kindle 2 Cover and the Sun Kindle 1 Cover from Oberon Design. I couldn’t help but fall in love with all their gorgeous designs even before receiving them in the mail.
Oberon Design has been around since 1992; in fact, you may have seen their leather book and journal covers before. They recently began offering Kindle covers, and I have to say that my first impression was one of wonder. As much as I liked the bomber jacket floppiness of my plain brown leather Kindle wrap, the intricate leather designs on Oberon’s site gave me straight-up cover envy!
I totally agree. I have enjoyed working with leather myself, so I have always respected intricate carvings on leather goods.
Julie and I were offered our choice of Oberon Design’s Velcro attachment system or their corner straps attachment system. She opted for the cover straps system, while I surprised myself by going for the Velcro; something about how clean the Kindle2 looked without loops on its corners truly appealed to me, even though I have never been a fan of attaching anything directly to my device.
No sticky stuff for me, thank you very much 😉 Leather straps covering the Kindle’s corners didn’t really worry me as long as they weren’t going to hinder the device’s use.
A few of the things that all Oberon Kindle cases have in common is that their exteriors are made with bench-crafted leather, and the interiors are all smooth leather with a felt strip to cover the Kindle’s screen. There is a card pocket on the bottom of the inside cover and tucked in between each side’s two layers making up the interior and exterior; there is a sheet of ABS plastic for added rigidity and device protection. I promptly removed mine. 😉
I have been leaving the stiffeners in mine, but I just now removed them and don’t really notice much of a difference at all given the thickness and rigidity of the leather.
Some of Oberon’s designs cover both the front and back of the cover, and with eighteen images to choose from and two color choices per image, it is easy to get lost when trying to decide which one to choose.
I agree. They are all so pretty! I love how the designs wrap around on the ones that I picked.
Both of yours are gorgeous! :drool:
Oberon includes a lagniappe in the form of a complementary designed pewter key charm with each cover; I gave mine to Sarah to use as a necklace.
Velcro Attachment System
When my cover arrived, I was immediately impressed by the dragon’s design’s depth and dimensions. Since I opted for this particular pattern, only the front of the cover has a dragon design.
The rest of my cover is composed of a thick, pebbly grained leather, which reminds me of the thick bull shoulder made to make western boots.
I received my dragon cover several weeks ago, just before Oberon started sending them with matching pewter buttons for each particular design. Mine has a carved Celtic knot, but the newer dragon covers come with a dragon-themed closure button, and each other cover style comes with a similarly designed to the central theme carved button.
On the outside, my cover looks the same as one with the corner straps system would. When opened, a card with a spare elastic band is tucked into the left. On the right is a sheet with the covers specifications with printed installation instructions on its back.
Installing the Velcro cover is easy: Make sure the Kindle’s back is clean, peel off the Velcro strips’ adhesive covers, and then lay the Kindle directly on top of the strips exactly as you want it to be held.
Once installed, my Kindle now has ~0.25″ extra cover on three edges, and while it’s not perfect protection in the event of a drop, it is certainly better than average.
I particularly like that my Kindle’s buttons and ports are not obstructed in any way, and the entire package has a beautiful clean appearance that I don’t feel would be present with straps. Since I’ve removed the interior ABS plastic reinforcement panels, my cover is slightly less rigid than it was originally; I have found that it is definitely growing softer and more molded to my Kindle through regular use.
I usually fold the front flap of the cover behind the Kindle when I am reading, and I have really grown to love the dragon design. I just ordered a Kindle DX, and one of the first things I did was write Oberon Design to make sure that they would be offering a cover for it; they will be. I can’t imagine putting a boring cover back on my Kindle now; I have grown completely spoiled. I’m also a bit bummed that I dropped $100 for the Cole Haan case, and at $75, this one blows it away not only in looks but also in value.
Corner Straps Attachment System
I requested covers for both the original and latest Kindle models. I opted for corner straps on both since I hate sticking stuff to my devices.
From the outside, it’s not apparent which cover is for the Kindle 1 and Kindle 2. The Kindle 1 cover is slightly smaller, but you can’t really tell even when they are side by side, as you see above.
Let’s look at the Kindle 2 cover first.
I received them around the same time that Judie did, so I also have a Celtic clasp button. I like it, though, so I wasn’t bummed to learn that they now are making their covers with the matching buttons.
The Kindle 2 is held in place with three wide leather straps and a thin elastic band.
It’s not difficult to insert the reader, and once situated, all features, buttons, etc., are fully accessible. The Kindle is held securely, and there are no worries that it will fall out accidentally. The soft fuzzy lining of the cover and the rigid leather protects the screen from scratches.
Also, there’s no need to remove the Kindle 2 from the cover to charge it.
I’ve been using this cover for a couple of weeks now and have liked it very much. Although it’s not as soft to hold as the M-Edge cover that I was using previously, I just love the design and uniqueness.
Let’s look at the Kindle 1 cover now.
It’s pretty much identical to the Kindle 2 cover when it comes to construction.
It has the same fuzzy screen protector lining on the cover side and the 3 wide leather straps, and an elastic band that comprises the holster.
The leather straps hold the reader very securely, and it is not hard to insert and remove. But I noticed a problem within seconds of placing the Kindle 1 in the cover.
The two bottom straps cover two buttons along the bottom edge of the Kindle. That might not be a big deal except that the buttons are the ones that are used to wake and put the Kindle to sleep. You can press the buttons through the straps, but I don’t really care for that fact.
You can see another problem in this view. One of the straps also covers the USB connector. This isn’t a big deal if you don’t copy files to and from your computer very often, but still…
If you plan to get a case for your Kindle 1, I’d go with the Velcro version as I think the strap version of the cover is better suited for the Kindle 2.
The price may scare some people, but these covers are unique and are made very well, and I can imagine them lasting for years and years.
Oberon Design Kindle and Kindle2 covers are available with or without Velcro directly from the manufacturer.
What I Like: Absolutely gorgeous and unique leather designs; option of using Velcro or straps to attach the Kindle to the case; gives the Kindle the appearance of a fabulous leather journal or book; Velcro attachment system gives unfettered access to all Kindle buttons and ports – plus it looks very clean; Strap version for Kindle 2 allows access to all features and buttons
What Needs Improvement: The cover is a bit stiff at first, but it definitely becomes “broken in” through use; straps on the Kindle 1 version cover buttons and USB connector