Review: Griffin Elan Passport Folio Case For iPad


By now you've probably had your iPad for a few weeks and are settling into using it and integrating it into your lifestyle. Well... that is, of course, only if you live in these great United States.  Those of you outside of the U.S. still drooling and waiting for your iPad will have to read this review with an eye to the future.   Anyway, you have probably come to realize that "naked" use of the iPad isn't the greatest experience.  I, of course, mean that the iPad is naked not the user.  I can't speak to that other type of experience.  The iPad looks great, but holding it naked isn't comfortable.  If you take your iPad out of the house a lot then carrying it naked can be scary from a protection standpoint.  The good news is that many manufacturers are now coming out with a wide array of cases.

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The Passport is a leather folio case.  I was waiting for one of these.  I have felt that this would be an important item and was what I envisioned carrying my iPad around in.  I like the leather folio image.  Think about it.  Even if you are wearing shorts and a t-shirt, if you are walking around with a leather folio, you get some instant credibility.  "Wow that guy must be some sort of important executive.  I mean he's gotta be, he's carrying around a leather thing.  Maybe he is one of those eccentric millionaire types who doesn't go for the buttoned down suit and tie look the 'man' expects." Certain items have this effect.  For example, one of those aluminium-looking briefcases.  Wow, if you see a guy with one of those, you've got to be instantly interested.  Is he a drug dealer, a spy, or some guy paying off a ransom?  These are the sorts of comments from strangers that I strive for and my fragile ego needs.

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Form Factor

As discussed above, the case is leather.  The leather is nice and soft and feels like it is pretty good quality.  It is only available in black.  The interior of the case is grey microfiber.

The leather has a puffy feel to it, so it does add some bulk to your iPad.  The case is rather pliable/bendable.  It feels like there is a piece of cardboard inside the leather that serves as the foundation of the case.  

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It is a folio, so that means it acts like a bookcover that opens and closes. The cover side of the case where your iPad does not sit has a sleeve.  The sleeve has slots for cards and a larger sleeve for putting something really small and paper thin in.  When you close the case, there is a flap that closes the two sides together.  

It is super easy to insert and remove your iPad.  There are four slots at each corner for your iPad to be slid into.  The two on the right side are fixed leather.  The two on the left side are elastic.  It slides in and out so easily that you may not think it is all that secure.  However, it really is quite secure.  I flipped it and held it in all sorts of weird positions, and the iPad did not budge.

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Functionality

Holding the case is nice.  Whether you are carrying it while closed or using it while open, the leather feels good and it is light.  You can easily bend the flap backwards for use that way.

It does not act as a stand.  However, I bent it backwards and stood it up like a triangle so the iPad was in landscape mode.  It felt relatively sturdy.  However, neither Griffin nor I are endorsing this as intended use. So if you do this and it falls or collapses, it is your fault crybaby.  If you want to feel like a bit of a risk-taking tough guy who throws caution to the wind then go for it.    

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There are some functionality failures.  Your charging and headphone ports are completely exposed and usable.  Same goes for your volume rocker. However, some items are hindered: One of the speakers is completly blocked.  This did not cause too noticeable a deficit to sound quality.  But still... The tiny mic on top of the iPad is blocked.

The power button is completely covered.  However, I did not notice any reduced functionality here.  I was still able to fully use the button, and taking screenshots was still easy.

Your accelerometer lock is completely covered and rendered useless unless you take that corner of the iPad out of its holder.  This was a  pretty big problem for me.  I am constantly using that switch depending on what I am doing.

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From a protection standpoint, it is just okay.  It is better than naked.  You can hold it very securely.  If you drop the iPad, it will have some protection, but it is not designed or held out as a hard case.  All in all, it provides the level of protection you would expect from leather.  Think about all those RPG games you might play where you get to upgrade your armor.  Leather is usually one of the first sets you get.  It is better than nothing, but certainly isn't as good as harder stuff you get down the line.

Other than the limitations in functionality, using the iPad is nice while it is in the case.  As I was testing it, some people who saw it said it looked bulky.  I never felt this was accurate.

It certainly doesn't feel bulky while using it.

Coolness Factor


As discussed above, the leather folio look is pretty cool.  In fact, I would go so far as to say it is elegant. Also, people won't be able to tell that you have an iPad with you.  This will actually bother some of you out there.  I know that there are a few of you who think flashing the iPad will help you find that special someone by making you seem super cool.  (You guys should really find a better way to do that sort of thing.  Your Apple products will really only impress fellow geeks.)  You might not like the case for that.
   


Pros

  • Nice leather look
  • Quality feel and nice to hold
  • Offers some protection
  • Easy to put the iPad in and take out

Cons

  • Hinders some functionality
  • Not a true stand as part of its feature set
  • A little bulky

Should You Buy?

The Passport will run you $49.99.  This seems high.  However, when you consider the Apple branded case is $39.99, $10.00 more for a leather case seems about right.  That being said, the lack of a true stand feature and the limitations the case puts on functionality makes it expensive in my opinion. If you really want a leather case and can live without easy access to your accelerometer lock then the case is quite nice.  

Rating: 3.0 (out of 5)

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