One of the most heart warming reactions to the ultra high tech aluminum, stainless steel, and glass aesthetic of Apple's devices is the opposing trend in the case industry of traditional materials, forms, and binding techniques. Swathing something so precisely machined as an iPhone, iPad, and MacBook in something so handcrafted as a Pad&Quill Little Black Book, Contega, or Cartella just feels so right, so human.
When the best of old world craft meets the greatest in modern tech, however, how practical are the results? Follow on after the break to find out!
If you're an iPhone owner tired of iPad users getting all the moleskin hipster fun, you're in luck. Pad&Quill have brought both to iPhone with the Little Black Book. From the beautiful binding to the snap of the elastic close to the smell and texture of the materials, it's just perfectly realized.
You've got the high quality bookbinding cloth inside and Italian bonded leather outside, framed by durable Baltic Birch. There are some modern concessions -- the ports are all cut out for easy access, as is the camera so you don't have to extricate your iPhone to snap a picture. You can flip it around and set it up in a tiny, typing position, or crack it open slightly to sit it up portrait style. Both features work better for iPad than iPhone, but it's nice to have them none the less.
One thing that's important to remember, however, is that the Little Black Book is made in the moleskin model, not the wallet model. There's no place for ID or credit cards.
If you're not into the hipster look, however, these types of cases add a lot bulk and the Little Black Book is no exception. While proportionately the iPad version feels less voluminous, the Little Black Books adds sufficient size that it's impossible to notice. You have to want a case like this.
If old fashioned style is more important that the extra substance -- the Little Black Book is gorgeous.
Contega is Pad&Quill's second bite at the moleskin-style iPad case apple and it's an improvement in every way. You've got the same great materials -- lacquered Baltic Birch, finely bonded Italian leather, and high quality book binding holding it all together.
It's got an extra hinge that allows it to be set up at two different angles so you can get just the perfect movie watching experience, and the speaker cutout is caved to send the sound right where it needs to be.
Again, all the right cutouts for controls and for the camera are in place. There's even a hidden pocket for any must-have-handy documents you want to keep with you. And to top it all off -- it's got magnets just like Apple's SmartCover so your iPad turns on when you open it and off when you close it.
If the 11-inch MacBook Air is the "iPad Pro" then Pad&Quill's Cartella is the pro-level case. Yes, you needn't feel jealous of all those magnificently mole-skinned iPads you see on the streets and in the coffee shops. You can dress up your MacBook Air every bit as much.
Because a MacBook Air is fundamentally different from iPhone and iPad -- it's intermediated by a keyboard and trackpad, the Cartella didn't seem as usable as the Little Black Book or Contega, but it felt every bit as carry-able.
With iPhone or iPad, you can just flip them open like a book and start using the multitouch screen. With MacBook Air you need to put it down and open the machine up, not just the case.
If you want the look, that won't bother you one bit. Otherwise it's an extra step and shows the advantage of the multitouch screen post-PC format when it comes to getting your hipster on.
As usual, I tried all three for a week (with the exception of the Cartella -- Georgia tried that one since she has the 11-inch MacBook Air). All three, Little Black Book, Contega, and Cartella are wonderfully crafted, fantastically good looking, fabulously old world cases for Apple's latest, greatest, most modern devices.
They're a tradeoff -- the bulk is enough that you have to want the look to put up with it. But chances are you've already made your mind up about that. If you're all in on the moleskin, definitely give Pad&Quill a look.