I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

Smart Covers

The most compelling feature of the iPad 2 is its case.

One huge design win in the Kindle hardware, starting with the Kindle 2, was the case-clip mechanism, which uses mechanical clips to attach book-style cases at the inner “binding” edge. It allowed the Kindle’s cases to be far less bulky and fiddly than the Nook’s cases, as I illustrated last year. Like the iPad 2, the Kindle 2 and 3 were designed to accommodate cases from the start, since Amazon knew that most people would use cases with them.

With the iPad 2, Apple came to the same realization, and designed something that seems even better: the Smart Cover. If it’s even half as nice as it looks, this is going to be a big deal.

Screens on slate-style devices are extremely vulnerable to damage in transit. For pocket-sized devices like phones, you can just dedicate a pocket to them and keep them naked. But larger slate-type devices, including the Kindle and iPad, require cases in almost all practical uses.

So, in practice, the first iPad wasn’t a 1.5-pound device that cost $499. For most buyers, it was an iPad wrapped in Apple’s (kinda crappy) case, effectively making it a 2-pound device that cost $538 plus tax, didn’t look very good, and was very difficult to remove from its case so it usually stayed in it even when it was inconvenient.

The iPad 2 with a Smart Cover will be approximately1 a 1.5-pound device that will cost $538 in pastel rubber or $568 in nice leather, looks a lot nicer, and can be removed from its case instantly and easily whenever convenient.

That’s about a 25% weight savings2, a huge reduction in thickness, and a significantly better-looking and more versatile product in actual use.

Of all of the iPad 2’s improvements, none of them are going to impact my daily use — or almost anyone else’s — as much as this.

  1. I can’t find any mention of the Smart Cover’s weight, so I’m guessing. If you know it, please let me know. ↩︎

  2. The weight reduction is even greater if you used a non-Apple case with the first iPad, since third-party cases tended to be much heavier. My preferred case, a nice Piel Frama folio, was 61% heavier than Apple’s. ↩︎