Despite my addiction to all things digital, I'll always love the feel of a good hardcover book. They may be harder to read in bed than, say, an iPad mini, but the heft and weight of a hardcover add something special to the experience of reading--something I miss when I'm just flipping through digital pages on my iPad or iPhone.
The Dodocase mini ($60 to $85, depending on cover configuration, personalization, and camera hole), for Apple's smaller iPad, isn't quite a hardcover book, but it brings forth all the qualities I love about books.
The basics of the case are very similar to those of the original Dodocase for iPad (and every subsequent version): a bound, hardcover shell with a bamboo tray for your digital device. Its cover can be folded back to create a nice typing plane, and the case has embedded magnets in the cover to sleep and wake your device (if told to do so in the Settings app).
But I'm very happy to say that the Dodocase mini's bamboo frame is vastly superior to that of the original 2010 model, which was prone to cracking and corner clips. The mini version does this, however, without replicating the plasticky feel favored by competing manufacturers--to Dodocase's advantage, I think, as I prefer my bamboo to feel slightly worn, rather than perfectly smooth; it adds a homespun quality to the case.
In fact, that's how I'd describe Dodocase's build quality as a whole: It has a lived-in, comfortable feel. It's not perfect--after a few months, your case's cover will start to wear at the edges, like a much-loved hardcover--but it's also not flimsy. The quality-control struggles the San Francisco-based manufacturer had early on seem to have been ironed out; the Dodocase mini's bamboo tray is strong, the cover is sturdy even after a number of drops and bangs, and the iPad mini fits perfectly. You can even use the iPad's rear camera through an optional camera hole without any shadows or other impediments.
After a few months of use, the only niggle I have with the Dodocase mini is the same as that of a hardcover book: It does add a certain heft to your load. The iPad mini is lovely and light in your hand when caseless; in the Dodocase, it weighs almost as much as two iPad minis glued together. (The case adds 182 grams to the 308g device.) Use this case, and know that your one-handed tablet will become very much a two-handed book.
That's not a bad thing, though. I vastly prefer using the iPad mini encased, taking it out only to play games requiring quick movement--a round of Spaceteam, for example. And in most circumstances, I've found the Dodocase mini to be much more comfortable to use than the iPad's smart cover.
The Dodocase mini won't be the perfect cover for everyone, especially if you prefer your iPad mini lightweight rather than comfortably protected. But it's just right for me.
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