There's only one company that stands out like a sore thumb from all the rest when looking for that next iPad case. Twelve South not only thinks different, it has completely dedicated itself to making really unique products for Mac and iOS devices only. We've had the chance to review the BookBook for the iPhone and MacBook Air, and we fell deeply in love with the concept ever since. Twelve South has re-written the original BookBook for the iPad and recently released the second iteration entitled BookBook Vol 2, and it's better than it ever was before. Flip the page to read our full review!
First things first, the lowdown on the important details you should know. The BookBook Vol 2 is going to cost you $80 and that's not too bad for what you end up with, it fits both the iPad 2 and the new iPad 3rd Gen, and it comes in Vintage Brown - Vintage Red and Classic Black; which is the particular version we're reviewing here. The BookBook Vol 2 is noticeably slimmer than its predecessor and for the most part, it remains a hardback leather folio style case at its core. The BookBook Vol 2 is handmade using real leather, the same kind of leather Twelve South uses across all BookBooks and it's absolutely gorgeous to look at, it smells like amazing leather smells and it feels smooth to the touch while having the ability to build up patina and character that will add even more uniqueness the more you use it. The backside as a little Twelve South logo embossed on it while the rest of the case is completely clean of any extra logos.
At the first glance, the BookBook's cunningly well designed exterior will fool anyone into thinking it's a real vintage book. The details and finishing touches really give this iPad folio case a realistic magical book-like style that's just so undeniably special. It might even protect your valuable iPad in a stealthy disguise against thievery. The gold and red accented spine adds a level of rigid support as you would expect to the already hard and stiffened front and back covers of the BookBook Vol 2. The amount of protection you get is really fantastic. Your iPad will remain safely guarded inside from knocks, drops and the simplest yet pesky off all - scratches. The corners are also reinforced to safe guard your iPad against corner impacts.
Carrying your iPad around with you whilst its inside the BookBook Vol 2 couldn't get any better thanks to its slim form factor and sturdy feeling. The entire folio has an assuring fit and finish that doesn't compress down on itself giving you the feeling of a full, hardback book when held.
It might seem that with the BookBook being all stiff that it would be uncomfortable to actually use the iPad as it was intended. Well, holding the iPad when the cover is flipped around the back is actually not as bad as it might seem. The surrounding bezel frame doesn't get in your way, and the slimmed down Vol 2 makes it comfortable to hold the iPad in both portrait and landscape with only the spine side being a little thicker than the opposite side, respectively. In the month or so that I've had the BookBook Vol 2, I couldn't see any reason why I wouldn't continue using it until the next big thing comes along.
Gaining access to your iPad requires unzipping one or both (depending on your preference) of the BookBook's leather pull tabs that zip and unzip smoothly. Using both zippers will let you make way for plugging in cables while the BookBook is closed shut. Unfortunately the cover has no magnetic wake/sleep feature to work with. Taking a look at the interior we see the the soft, velvety interior suede lining that keeps the king of all tablets, a comfortable one. And of course the new interior support frame which basically acts as a sleeve to cradle the iPad snuggly in place.
This frame however, isn't made out of real leather but instead, feels cheaply cut out of faux leather. We weren't expecting a downgrade in the quality department from Twelve South to say the least. The support frame is designed to snap securely to the back of the case using two simple button snaps at the side. The BookBook Vol 2's support frame is the only real letdown I've found. The fit is okay, but using an iPad 3rd Gen will bloat the top and bottom portions of the frame that overlaps on top of the iPad's bezel which creates somewhat of a visually annoying gap. Whether this happens using the slightly thinner iPad 2 is questionable. The overall internal frame isn't as well designed as it could have been compared to other folio type cases on the market. With that said, the functionality isn't impede upon.
The port cutouts aren't precisely cut and the dock connector port is actually partially covered up with some excess material that hangs off the frame and will get in the way when you plug your iPad in to charge and sync. While the rest of the button and port cutouts aren't as well polished as you'd expect them to be, I've had no trouble reaching the buttons and plugging in a pair of headphones. One more thing to note is that although the iPad's back facing speaker look as if it is completely covered up by the BookBook's hardback cover, the sound is actually much better directed towards you rather than firing backward which amplifies the sound.
The BookBook Vol 2's internal iPad sleeve does have a cutout for the back facing camera, but using that requires you to detach the frame sleeve while the rest of the folio case sort of hangs below and you just end up looking like a dork trying to take a photo with a big tablet inside a book. Twelve South didn't want to put a hole in the hardback cover like it didn't with the iPhone BookBook for realism purposes. So camera usability takes a bit of a hit but we couldn't really care less with the iPad.
One of the BookBook's key features is that it can prop your iPad in two different viewing angles by folding out the support frame, unsnapping the two button snaps and folding out the little typing kickstand.
Using the BookBook Vol 2's stand functionality can be a little finicky at first, but you'll quickly become accustomed to using it after you've figured out the proper method of using that typing kickstand. Twelve South kept things as simple as they come by using the two metal button snaps as a way of supporting the fold-out kickstand from moving further than it should. To use your iPad at a typing position, flip the front cover backwards underneath the case and flip the kickstand so it rests on the suede material. The typing angle is surprisingly solid and pretty great providing a nice amount of elevation for your hands to type on the screen.
Propping the iPad into the second angle is done in the same way and provides you with a better viewing angle at a 30-degree tilt in the landscape orientation for watching movies. Using the touchscreen in this position is a non-issue even though the back half cover of the BookBook rests on those two button snaps as a means of anchoring down. Again, we would have liked to see something a little more assuring coming from Twelve South, but the BookBook Vol 2 seems to handle these two stand angles very well despite seeming like it's MacGyvering it.
This isn't a folio case that would suit everyone. We've got plenty of other folio type iPad cases to name that go about the stand features better, however, the BookBook Vol 2 is a wonderful leather folio case that is just breathtaking. If you're looking to extend your BookBook collection, you've got nothing to lose and a whole lot of awesomeness to gain with this one. Twelve South's classy BookBook Vol 2 is near perfect, and being that it's handmade using quality leather, designed to be a one-of-a-kind case while offering a substantial amount of protection, we're happy to recommend it for its brilliance. There's nothing quite like it. We only hope Twelve South makes the tweaks and improves the interior quality just a little more.