I am sure it’s no secret that accessories are important to me; as a matter of fact, I was just called an “accessory maven” by @philipbearne on Twitter recently. Thank you Philip, for stating the obvious. 😆
We spend a fair amount of time reviewing accessories here on Gear Diary because all of us enjoy using products that enhance our gear experience. When I buy a new smart phone or tablet, the first thing I generally do is order an anti-glare screen protector for it … and immediately afterward I start looking at cases. The screen protector serves two purposes: much as wide tape placed across a window will help strengthen it during hurricane, I’ve learned through experience that a screen protector helps when the device is dropped. A matte screen protector also helps hide fingerprints and face-grease that inevitably wind up on a touch device’s screen. The case search, on the other hand, is not even fueled by a worry that I will drop the device; it is more because I want something that will keep my device from looking like everyone else’s.
I can’t say that it would necessarily be a deal-killer for me if a device I was considering didn’t have any cool accessories, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that it would be a major buzz-kill. Case in point, if you’ll pardon the pun: I am using an HTC HD2 that Francis converted to Android. I love this device, but as of yet I don’t have a single fitted case for it that I like; that’s why it’s going nekkid at the moment. As someone who owns both the iPad and the iPhone — two devices with a ridiculous array of accessory options — moving to a phone or tablet that is basically only supported by silicone case manufacturers is a tremendous letdown. And yes, I know there are a few other HD2 case options out there, but none that have made me go “ooooh, I want!” But I digress.
When I picked up the Samsung Galaxy Tab, I did a bit of accessory research … and I found a lot of silicone sleeves. I also found that while the Tab did have the support of a surprising number of case manufacturers, including Samsung, nothing I saw really thrilled me. I wanted a slim case that allowed me to use the Tab’s camera on the fly, and I wanted something that looked good — definitely not one of the more generic options. I like the look of carbon fiber, so I thought of some of the case manufacturers who use it that we had covered in the past … but none of them were offering anything for the Tab.
It was starting to seem as if anything that didn’t have an Apple logo on it was destined to be the gadget equivalent of the “ugly red-headed step-child”, with all due apologies to any ugly red-headed step-children out there, of course.
And then my friend Google introduced me to the Infinity Carbon site, where I found the 2×2 Carbon Fiber Twill Case.
Unlike the monCarbone carbon fiber cases we have reviewed in the past for the iPhone and iPad, the Infinity Carbon shell is much more substantial, and definitely much more reminiscent of auto racing. This shell looks and feels like the material used to make a carbon fiber car part. Infinity Carbon hand makes each case with 2×2 twill weave 3k carbon fiber that has been molded to fit your device. They add tasteful Infinity Carbon stickers on the back’s bottom edge and on the interior, and then the final product is clear-coated for rigidity and UV protection. The result is a gorgeous, strong, unique, functional and protective shell.
I had an early fit issue with the upper right corner, because there were a couple of millimeters space between the Tab and the interior of the shell which caused a creaking when the corner was pressed. An email to Infinity Carbon resulted in a fast and courteous response; After giving it another week to see if the issue resolved itself, I sent the shell back in, and they quickly returned a perfectly fitting case.
The very nature of carbon fiber is that it will add minimal weight or bulk to the device that they is covering. The Infinity Carbon Twill Case does add a few ounces and 2 millimeters on the back and sides, but overall it mainly serves to make the Tab feel like a much sturdier device.
The Infinity Carbon is a shell design; the Tab is inserted by angling one side of the Tab into its corresponding side on the case and then lowing the other side of the Tab into the shell. The fit is skin-tight, and once inserted there is no chance that the Tab will come out of the shell. I’ve found that the best way to remove the Tab is by pressing the pad of my forefinger into the camera hole on the back while grasping a case corner for leverage and holding my mouth just right. It’s a tricky thing to do, but since there’s really no reason to ever remove the case once in place, it shouldn’t be an issue for most people. [It’s only been an issue for me because there are other Tab cases I’ve had to review, otherwise the Infinity Carbon would always be left in place.]
There is protection on the right and left side of the tab and each of its corners; the top and bottom of the Tab are left uncovered so that you can access the headphone jack, and sync / charge port without any issues.
Perhaps the only potential negative to this case (other than its price tag) is that due to the way the shell is designed to tightly snap onto the Tab, its sides do not come up higher than the tab; this simply means there is no face-down screen protection. I am okay with that, because I have a screen protector in place. If you are someone who has an issue with using screen protectors, this may be a problem.
I should mention that if you are the type who likes to toss your device into a bag and forget about it, screen protection coupled with the Infinity Carbon will be ideal. You should however be advised that loose items with sharp edges — like keys or coins — will leave fine scratches in the case’s clear-coat. This is to be expected, and while it’s not something I consider a defect, over time it may make you consider trying things like auto wax or scratch cream.
While I won’t say that the Infinity Carbon is so light that I forget its installed, I will say that it is smooth enough that the Tab still glides into bag pockets and cargo pockets without grabbing (as a silicone or leather case would). It is perhaps the safest way to experience a “naked Tab” experience without going naked.
This is one of the few times that I have spent serious coin on an accessory and not regretted it in the least. The Infinity Carbon 2×2 Carbon Fiber Twill Case is gorgeous without seeking attention, strong without being too bulky; protective without being too industrial, and best of all — it does not hamper my access or enjoyment of the Tab.
The Infinity Carbon 2×2 Carbon Fiber Twill Case is available directly from the manufacturer.
MSRP: $124.95 includes a 90 day warranty against defective materials or workmanship.
What I Like: Adds very little bulk or weight to the Tab; makes the Tab feel more substantial and solid; the camera lens and screen are always accessible; looks beautiful without being too “look at me!”
What Needs Improvement: It’s pricey; due to its snap-on design, the sides of the shell do not rise above the screen and there’s no face-down screen protection; fine scratches will show in the clear-coat if keys or other sharp objects rub against the shell