Make no mistake, the Marware Eco-Vue case for the iPad [$42.95 - TiPb store link] is the executive option for iPad cases. It's the leather bound Cadillac. It's the finely appointed Benz. No, I'm not writing a luxury car review, but that's kind of how this case feels. The quality is excellent -- it smells excellent. Deep black leather with crisp white stitching on the outside sandwiches your iPad providing a think layer of plush protection, softer gray microfiber swaddles it inside while still granting access to hardware buttons and ports. There's also a clear screen protector included to keep the display safe.
A thin elastic band lets you secure the Marware Eco-Vue closed or flipped back and open. There's a leather strap that folds over the top and tucks in to keep your iPad from falling out. I'm paranoid so it didn't de-stress me to the level a snap or velcro or some other form of security would have, but it's long enough and the friction is high enough that the iPad stays put. It's leather-glove tight inside either, which will annoy perfectionists but does make getting the iPad in and out far easier. Since I haven't seen a dock yet that will work with this size case, that could be a plus for those who want to take their iPad out every once and a while.
Inside the Marware Eco-Vue's front cover are a couple of highly useful extras. An elastic leather strap lets you slip one hand inside so you can carry the iPad around and tap away with the other hand without worrying it will slip and fall. A stand folds out to let you prop it up on a table to create a better typing angle. A magnet keeps it from flopping around when not in use. Smart. So smart I kind of wish a magnet was also used to keep the case closed, though the elastic is certainly more traditional.
And if you're wondering about the Eco in the name, Marware says it's made out of substances healthier for the environment and meets RoHS standards.
On the negative side, luxury comes at a price and in this case the price is bulk. The Marware Eco-Vue isn't a skin, it isn't a film, it's a fairly hefty leather bound folio. If 1.5lbs of iPad is already dragging you down, this won't help (hitting the weights might). I found the protection worth it, and didn't even use a bad with the Marware. I just closed it, secured the elastic, and carried my iPad around like a book. That way, the net total was a lighter, more portable, if somewhat Yuppy-esque solution.
I've heard some complaints that there's nowhere inside the Marware Eco-Vue to carry a paper notebook and pen. Sure. Okay. That's valid. I got an iPad so I'd never have to use pen and paper on the go again, but for those of you who want to take the old and the new with you, Marware doesn't offer that option. Nor is there a place to stick some business cards. It's also black only at the moment, so if you prefer your leather in Indiana Jones brown, you're out of luck.
Other than those gripes I've been very impressed, and I'm decidedly not the type of person who usually likes the leather fold-over case form factor. (See Sikora, Jeremy). I've actually been using it more than what's required to review it and I have a sneaky suspicion that means it's won me over.
If you're looking for a smart, sexy iPad case that offers both protection and panache, look no further -- the Marware Eco-Vue has you covered.
[gallery link="file" columns="2"]