Review: Karvt iPad Mini Wood Skin

Karvt iPad Mini Bamboo SkinI was looking for something nice to complement my dark grey Smart Cover so that the back of my iPad mini would stay protected. I wanted something super light and minimal but classy, and after some searching around, I landed on the Karvt iPad Mini Bamboo wooden skin.

Interestingly enough, even though I ordered just the back, they sent me both. I just can’t dig having the wooden frame on the front though; seems a bit silly to me. To each his own.

It comes well packaged in two layers of strong cardboard, as well it should considering how much they charge for shipping. They brag on their envelope that they pride themselves in being easy to apply. I suppose compared to the full skins that involve pushing out the bubbles and such, it is. That said, it still takes a good eye and steady hand. I think mine isn’t quite aligned perfectly unfortunately. I think they could improve on this by including some sort of frame to put around the iPad that makes it foolproof. Reminds me of the CD stampers that do this for CD labeling.

Anyways, the skin itself is just about what I was going for aesthetically. The bamboo goes nicely with the aluminum and white, and it goes well with the grey Smart Cover I have. If I had a black iPad, I’d probably have gone with walnut, as I think it is classier, but it was too dark for the white, IMO. It feels like real bamboo (surprise!), and the edges are burned, I presume that is how they are cut. It probably serves the dual purpose of cutting and sealing. It looks better than nothing, but I think a thin aluminum border would be better.

I’m pretty happy with it, and time will tell how well it holds up against finger oils and the like. At least the Smart Cover protects some when you have it flipped around as I normally do. It doesn’t quite adhere/stick (with the magnet) as I feared it might, adding extra material between the two magnets, but it never held very well anyway. It holds well enough.

I can recommend it if this is the look you are going for. It is high quality for what it is; you just have to decide if having wood on your fancy device works for you.

BookBook Initial Thoughts/Review

For some time, I’ve been thinking about having an iPhone case that looked like a book. This is, in part, because of the looks you get at church if you use an iPhone, like I do, for devotional material (prayers, in particular).  I’m also a history geek and love the “old book” aesthetic, so I thought I’d give the BookBook a try.

The, theoretically, nice addition with this one is that you can use it as a wallet as well.  So, I just got mine in the mail yesterday, and here it is.

BookBook Side

BookBook Top

As you can see, it doesn’t stay closed on its own very well.  Now, I generally try to keep the bare minimum in my wallet anyways, but I had to skimp even more.  We’re talking: driver’s license, health insurance card, AAA card, one credit card, and one debit card.  I also have maybe 5 bills of cash.

Even though it fits, you can see it doesn’t really fit well.  That said, with some pressure, it almost fits in terms of the binding, i.e., it is about as thick as the spine of the book.  It is and feels fairly bulky in my front pocket, where I always keep my phone.  But it’s not uncomfortable.  It is noticeable even when standing, and I don’t wear tight pants. 😉

Things I like:

  • The look – obviously, that’s my main reason for getting it. It looks great, just like an old book.
  • The feel – it feels (and I believe is) real leather. Also, for reading emails, etc., it’s kind of nifty to hold it like a book.
  • The smell – it smells like leather.
  • Eliminating separate wallet. Now I just need to get rid of my keys. 🙂

Things I don’t like/will have to be tolerated:

  • Bulkiness – as shown/discussed above. I don’t think I can get away with much less in the wallet side, and even without that, it is still fairly bulky itself.
  • Using as a phone – I don’t want to wear the spine/binding, so for me, the only option is to pop it out for this. It’s not hard to get out, but still, it is weird to have to take it out to make a call.
  • Difficulty of access – this is extension of the phone thing; it is not exactly easy to get cards out, or cash, or put it back. (It is leather, so it should break in a bit/get easier.) Also, if you want to switch to left hand or use both to type, it’s a bit awkward for sure.

At this point, I’m not really sure about it. It’s the first of this kind of phone case I’ve tried, and most of the issues have to do with the class of case, rather than this specific one, which is quite snazzy/feels well made.  Will try it for some days at least and see if I can adapt w/o too much bother.

UPDATE 2 January 2013:

I’ve been using it for three weeks now, and I’m more happy with it now than I originally was.  Here are pics from today.

BookBook Vintage Brown from Front

BookBook Vintage Brown from Back

BookBook Vintage Brown from Open Side

You can see there is some wear. Twelve South says, naturally, that this wear just adds to the character. I’ll say that at least it doesn’t take away from it. Looking like a vintage book, you might expect it to show some wear.

Now, about my main concerns:

  • Bulkiness – I did use a wallet app to get rid of one card. It still sits open (as you see). This isn’t really any better or worse, but I will say that I have come to really appreciate not having to carry a separate wallet. This is more convenient for a wallet, too, as it is usually more easily accessible (e.g., sitting in the car in a drive thru–it is easier to get to because I often either have it out or have it in my front pocket).
  • Phone – It is a bit awkward, yes. But maybe less so than I anticipated. I find myself using speakerphone when I can, but in situations where I need to answer normally, I’ve gotten adept at holding it open to my head.  Probably looks a tad silly, but for short calls, I do that.  If I intent to talk for a while, I pop it out, which once you get the technique, is fairly easy to do. I have a couple accessories that don’t want the case, and I regularly pop it out for those as well.  No biggie, but it is as expected a tad more cumbersome.
  • Access – as mentioned, it is actually easier and often faster to access my wallet than before. As expected, the leather did break in, so the cards come out easily enough now, and cash isn’t hard to get either. The big win in this aspect is how quick I can get to the wallet stuff.  And it is a bit easier to show my ID to people as well.

About the pluses, well, the main thing is that it is really quite nice to hold, to look at, and to smell (though of course it is less smelly now). I’ve had quite a few compliments on it, even some jealous comments. I have found it is actually easier to hold for taking pics/video in landscape–the case gives you more to grip on without worrying about blocking the lens. As one person pointed out, people endure far more annoying things than the drawbacks of this case in service to aesthetics/style, so I can’t really complain. I find myself quite satisfied with it overall, and mostly I don’t think about or mind the cumbersome aspects. I do enjoy it and am keeping it as my case for the foreseeable future.  As always, your mileage may vary.