Covers for the back of the iPad 2 to complement the Smart Cover seem to be a dime a dozen these days with each manufacturer making their own versions. One of the newest ones out there is by iSkin, a company known for making great cases like the Revo and Vu. The Solo Smart is a TPU case with some features that help it to stand out in the oversaturated market. The question is, will those features help it stand out or will it get lost in the sea of back covers?
To find out more, jump past the break and check out the full review!
The Solo Smart will run you $49.99 off iSkin's website and along with the case you'll get a small goody pouch which includes an iSkin LCD wipe, microfiber cloth, iSkin stickers, and instructions for the case. You also get a TPU strip which we'll cover later in the review.
The case itself is made of a TPU material with a bit of plastic on the slide that the smart cover locks in. It feels similar to other iSkin products I've tried where the inside has a matte finish and the outside is a glossy surface which attracts fingerprints. The best way to install the case is to put the bottom portion in first since the lip extends out a bit further and snap the rest of the case around the perimeter of the iPad. Its a very snug fit and the edges on the inside are a bit sharp which caused my screen protector to bubble a bit. On the side the Smart Cover snaps in, there is actually a plastic bit that wraps around the hinge to prevent the cover from coming off while attached. Its a nice touch and works without any issues.
Once both your Smart Cover and Solo Smart are installed, you'll find the case leaves very little exposed. The headphone jack and 30-pin connector have port covers for extra protection, and the Smart Cover will cover up all the aluminum on the side as well. The buttons are covered up as well, the sleep/wake button functions just fine. However the case seems to be tight on the volume up button because when I put the case on it was pushing the up button and took a bit of stretching to stop it from doing so. The only parts left exposed are the speaker, microphone, camera, and mute/rotation switch. Part of the speaker is actually covered up from the design of the case, however I did not notice any muffling of sound while using the case.
As far as using the Solo Smart in conjunction with the Smart Cover is concerned, it works just fine without any issue at all. The sleep/wake function still works and both the typing and viewing stand are unhindered as well. The one thing to note is that the smart cover will no longer sit on the screen of your iPad, but rather on the lip around the bezel of the iPad. Fortunately this doesn't decrease the holding power of the magnets at all.
Moving on to the small TPU strip I mentioned earlier, its basically a piece that sits in the hinge protector on the left side of the iPad if you decide not to use it with the smart cover. It'll cover up that portion to keep it protected and you can continue using it as a regular form fitting case without a problem. It won't come out until you pull it out yourself.
While holding the case, it really doesn't add much in the way of thickness or weight. The TPU surface also helps to get a better grip on the iPad itself and personally I did prefer it to holding the iPad bare. It also means that unlike most of its rivals which are made of plastic, it won't get heavily scratched and look bad over time as you use it. The Smart Cover holder on the side is a great idea and I think more manufacturers should incorporate it as it adds an extra level of protection just in case anything goes wrong.
Overall while the case offers a good level of protection as well as unique features, I'm not entirely convinced whether the price tag is worth it. In order to take full advantage of this product you already need to have a Smart Cover, which retails for either $40 or $70 depending on which material you get and then another $50 on top of that. Essentially its really a $90-$120 case you're paying for and I really don't understand why. At $50 it should be flawless but it isn't and to some people, the negatives probably outweigh the positives as well. If iSkin fixes these issues and lowers the price down to $35-$40, I can see this doing well. However as it stands right now, there are far better options out there.