Pinlo's latest case offering for the iPad 3rd Gen as well as the unforgettable iPad 2, is of the folio type and called the Noir Italian Leather Case, or Noir for short. The Noir will suit the most undemanding iPad users who seek protection with a tad bit of British elegance. The British accessory maker has made some very unique cases out of plastic, so how will its first ever premium leather iPad case fare? Our full review, after the jump!
The Noir folio case is best suited for those who don't need any fancy stand features or an overly protective design with bulging patterns. The Noir has none of that. In fact, it's as simple as they come. What isn't so simple is the price. Expect to part with $120 of your hard earned monies. That's a big price to pay when all you're getting is a simple, one-piece leather folio cover. The Noir's black leather and deep purple interior has this rock homage scheme to it which works really well. Unfortunately this is the only color variant available a this time.
You'd expect to get the most amazing cut of leather, but that's not exactly the case as we found out. The Noir does look extraordinary and extremely sophisticated in a simplistic way, the businessy type, but the leather isn't all that impressive to be honest. Having reviewed many leathery accessories, the Noir isn't anything special when it comes to overall leather quality.
The leather finish is nice and smooth to the touch with a sort of a shiny, mirror-like varnish that unfortunately smells really bad when you start using it for the first time. That strong chemical smell isn't what you'd expect premium leather to smell like, and it only dissipates after a few weeks sadly. It's a shame Pinlo hasn't gone with a more natural finish rather than some type of abrasion resistant finish to coat the Noir's leather. At least the leather holds up its fine grain look better than most.
Where the the Noir falls behind, it most definitely excels at being one of the thinnest iPad folios we've seen adding no obtrusive bulk and maintaining a form factor that's easily manageable when the time comes to actually using your iPad. Ports and buttons remains fairly easy to access at all times.
Around the back is where you'll find a round camera hole cutout for the iPad's back facing camera, albeit you'll still look like a fool taking pictures with a huge tablet inside a folio cover to top it off.
The slimmed down form factor of the Noir comes from its very unique way of affixing the iPad. Instead of using a traditional means of fames and embedded snap cases, the Noir's "Nilicon" silicone adhesive pad with the help of a Smart Cover-like magnetic hinge secure the iPad in place making sure it will not prematurely detach or fall out from within the folio. The entire back is also much stiffer than the folio cover the flips over which provides a great protective base for the iPad to mount on.
And I must say, as much as I thought this was a stupid way of complicating a simple installation, it works flawlessly and is extremely sturdy and secure. The silicone adhesive pad is strong enough to grab hold of the iPad without needing the extra help from the magnetic hinge, which is otherwise utterly useless. But nonetheless, it's great to have two layers of security.
You can remove the iPad from the adhesive pad without any sticky residue being left behind, but it can become cumbersome to do if you tend to use your iPad with different accessories. So I wouldn't recommend going with these type of cases which use these adhesive pads as they're only good for people who rarely take their iPad out of the case. Thanks to this method of installation, the folio can be much slimmer than others using more bulky methods of affixing the iPad. Although we think it isn't the ideal way, we're beginning to see these types of mountings roll out in many of these folio cases for the iPad. It's easier for case manufacturers to stick these pads in their cases, but at the same time it seems cheap and rushed without much effort being taken into a proper form of a better attachment.
The good that comes out of this however, is that the entire surface of the iPad's front display is completely free of any obstacles meaning it's much easier to use the touchscreen and grab hold of the iPad in use. Just flip back the front cover and the slim thickness of the folio lets you comfortably use your iPad.
That's enough talk about the exterior, on the inside the Noir presents a contrasting deep purple lining across the entire interior that feels soft to the touch and will protect the iPad well from scratches. The Noir logo embossed on the cover looks fantastic on the inside, but not so much on the outside.
The iPad is suspending in the middle of the Noir folio case with decent top and bottom overlays that'll do fine keeping the iPad away from coming in contact with a table, however, the side part of the iPad is completely unprotected by the case itself. But the most noticeable drawback of the Noir is that it lacks the magnetic on/off closure feature and fails to seamlessly cover up the ends of the iPad's bezel resulting in an uneven cover overlay which exposes some of the iPad's glass. In the past few weeks of testing the Noir, the leather cover still ended up looking as if it were slightly shorter than it should have been. It isn't such a big issue, but when you're paying this much, we expect nothing less than perfection.
As much as I'd like to recommend the Noir leather folio case, considering its hefty price tag and lackluster features, we simply think it isn't good enough to justify the price. Even as a minimalist leather folio case, the Noir isn't up to par with more affordable folio cases for the iPad. The Noir is nice to use if all you wanted is some decent front and back protection, but sadly something so simple shouldn't cost $120. With that in mind, Pinlo has mentioned that they will be updating the Noir slightly. We hope to see the price come down too while their at it.