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View Full Version : Review - Twelve South BookBook Case for iPad



MTBlogBot2000
17th November 2010, 09:57 AM
<img class="alignleft size-full wp-image-11111" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_23271.jpg" alt="" width="300" height="254" />When it comes to iPad covers, the majority of covers to date have been fairly bland. They've still been functional but they're also either rubber or black leather and all they've really achieved is an executive Filofax look and feel. Today we look at a product from <a href="http://twelvesouth.com/" target="_blank">Twelve South</a>, which is the combination of a form and function, a brilliant idea that shows the kind of innovation that Apple accessory manufacturers put into their products. Whilst this is not likely to appeal to everyone, but there is no doubt, it's a brilliant idea and itís executed very well.

Twelve South are an Apple accessory manufacturer based in the USA. Their products are available at a variety of local retailers and theyíre distributed in Australia by <a href="http://www.tryandbyte.com.au/">Try &amp; Byte</a>. For those who donít know Twelve South, you probably do already know some of their products like the <a href="http://www.twelvesouth.com/products/bookarc/">BookArc</a> and <a href="http://www.twelvesouth.com/products/compass/">Compass stand</a>.

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Twelve South recently released an iPad cover called the BookBook. It follows the same design as a similar product they released for the Macbook and the BookBook is the type of product that leaves you thinking "Damn, why didn't I think of that?Ē. In all honestly, as much as the design would work for the Macbook, I think the concept with the iPad just makes a lot more sense given the type of use you'd expect from an iPad. I work in the technology consulting sector with a group of people who are fairly similarly minded with technology so when Try &amp; Byte sent me a BookBook to review, I had no doubt this would be a head turner and I wasn't wrong.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2300.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11037" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2300.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="320" /></a>

While most of the iPad covers are designed to be purely functional or look like an executive Filofax, this is design that disguises the iPad and makes it appear like you're carrying around an old book. Whilst I don't think the intention of this was to disguise your iPad from prying eyes or potential thieves, there is some merit to not advertising you're carrying around an iPad, particularly if you happen to be on public transport to Frankston at 1am on a Saturday morning. This is so well disguised youíre more likely to lose your wallet or your 3 year old Nikeís because most criminals Iíve met donít seem to be particularly well read (unless the prison library counts) so theft of books on public transport has never been a major issue.
<blockquote>During my time evaluating the BookBook, someone asked about it at almost every meeting I attended</blockquote>
When you walk into a meeting, be prepared to go unnoticed for the first little while. The design is subtle enough to ensure that you pass under the radar every time...until you open it. During my time evaluating the BookBook, someone asked about it at almost every meeting I attended. If you want a head turner or way to break the ice in a meeting, this is your thing. I would highly recommend it as a distraction tool if you think your employee appraisal isn't going to go as planned - the moment your boss starts getting negative, open your BookBook to distract him long enough until he forgets about it. Chatting to another BookBook owner, it seems his experiences were pretty similar and I've been warned to prepare for an interesting experience going through airport security. I may just avoid taking this through airport security in the US because its ingenious camoflage may result in me spending time in Guantanamo Bay on the pretext of disguising a "Weapon of Maths Instruction".
<p style="text-align: center;"><a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2281.jpg"><img class="size-full wp-image-11042 aligncenter" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2281.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="399" /></a></p>
Of course, all these looks would be less than impressive if we donít have something that is actually functional so lets look at the product in a little more detail.

<strong>Quality </strong>

The BookBook rates very high on the quality product scale in anyone's book (excuse the pun). From the moment you open it, you know this is going to be a pleasurable experience. Any time youíre looking at A$89 for a case, you wouldnít expect anything less, but this really makes you feel like you purchased something special. The quality of the leather and stitching in this product is first rate. It has that beautiful genuine leather smell and it doesn't take long to realise this product oozes quality.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2322.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11030" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2322.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="462" /></a>

Everything from the perfect bookstand cross-stitching to the imprints on the cover are picture perfect in fitting in with the theme. In a somewhat accidental perfection, my cover arrived ever so slightly bent when I received it. I'm still trying to work out whether this is intentional and I'm in two minds. The packaging is fairly good so it wouldn't have been damaged in transit, but I'm also wondering whether I'm guity of overanalysing a product by seeing an imperfection as perfect. Iím pretty sure this isnít normal, but it really added to the look and feel of the ďold bookĒ and with the worn looking book cover, made the iPad case seem like one of those old journals youíd been carrying around for years where the bends were actually due to years of holding.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2284.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11040" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2284.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="313" /></a>

Unfortunately, all is not absolutely perfect with the BookBook. The only area the BookBook really falters is the elastic strap, which really just looks out of place. They really should have opted for leather/elastic combination corners like the Griffin and itís sad that something really minor is effectively spoiling an otherwise perfect product. If theyíd done that correctly, it honestly would have got 5/5 because there was little else I could fault from a quality perspective.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2310.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11034" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2310.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="399" /></a>

That said, having examined a fair amount of covers on the market, I have yet to see anything as well put together as this and Iíd be happy to look past this little Faux Par because it simply is that good.

<strong>Design</strong>

From a design and aesthetics perspective, this definitely tops the list of covers currently available. Often people come up with a concept but fail miserably in execution but the BookBook is not one of those products. This case looks, feels and smells like and old book. The leather is aged to ensure the book looks old and the colouring of the zipper area helps it look like book pages. They've even extended the design down to the little touches like the zippers made to look like bookmarks sticking out of the book and the iPad stand made to look like a book tie. The cover really feels like an old book, the hard cover and texture of the leather follow the theme they've tried to portray without looking cheap or tacky.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2280.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11043" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2280.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="390" /></a>

<strong>Protection </strong>

Iím hesitant to put too much into a case as protection because there should never be a temptation to treat your electronics with disdain, but the protection offered by the BookBook should be more than adequate for any user and is substantially better than most products on the market. The cover is really thick and hard and if I compared it to my Griffin, I'd say it probably offered twice as much protection although it does come at a price as the BookBook is a little thicker than other cases I've tested. If my iPad dropped on the floor, I'd probably feel comfortable that it would survive the fall unscathed. Unfortunately, despite numerous request for crash dummy test iPads, Steve Jobs has failed to return my calls so I couldn't test exactly how robust this case is, but if Apple do come back to me one day I'll be sure to let you know. Where it also improves substantially on the conventional Filofax style cases is the wrap around zip does give a little extra protection from the elements like the wind and rain. In the past I was forced to shelter my iPad under my jacket in even the lightest drizzle, whereas with this I'd be inclined to just carry normally.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2282.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11041" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2282.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="344" /></a>

<strong>Usability </strong>

Usability is always a tough issue for something like an iPad cover because what you gain in one area, you lose in another. The reason I mention this is because the moment you introduce zips, youíre going to see advantages and disadvantages. The advantage with zips is they provide a little extra protection from the elements so if you walking in light rain, its likely to offer more protection than something with open sides. Obviously you canít just flip it open as you could with something like a magnetic latch or strap but I guess if thats important, you could opt to not zip it up all the time. In the case of the BookBook, I don't believe Twelve South could have gone any other way with this design and the zip concept suits it perfectly because of the whole page concept. The stand setup is clever but its impractical if you use your stand on a regular basis and its probably only suited to people who require occasion use of a stand. This is because it requires you to remove the top section of the iPad from the casing to get the leather strip into position. Its one of those designs that works well for the concept but is likely to annoy you if you have to do it too often. On the plus side, it is probably the most adjustable stand on the market because it can be used at any angle simply by lengthening or shortening the tie down.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2319.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11031" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2319.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="399" /></a>

As far as features go, there is only a limited amount you can do to an iPad case without making it too bulky or completely impractical. Given the theme, its a little difficult to expect them to include a business card holder so I can understand that omission, but with a range of styluses on the market, its still surprising that the cases manufacturers have opted not to include a stylus option. The stand leather strap has doubled as a stylus holder for me in the interim.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2303.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11036" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2303.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="399" /></a>

<strong>Cost</strong>

At A$89 this is not a cheap case and a number of prospective buyers are likely to be put out by this price that is pretty high by iPad standards. This is unfortunate because although it may seem expensive, its also one of the best cases Iíve seen from a quality and manufacturing perspective so I actually think its really good value for money. A leather wallet can easily cost you $90 so I don't see why a high quality leather iPad case can't cost that and if you put it side by side with a cheaper case like the Griffin and Apple OEM case, the quality difference is noticeable immediately. You get what you pay for and in this case, that's a whole lot more.
<blockquote>I still have this niggling feeling that I'll wake up one morning and find my iPad naked on the table</blockquote>
My wife was almost tempted to buy an iPad just so she could get the case but she's going to have to wait for her iPad Christmas present before she gets one. I still have this niggling feeling that I'll wake up one morning and find my iPad naked on the table. If you know women, possession is 9/10ths of the law, so the likelihood of me getting it back from her are somewhere between "when hell freezes over" and "over my dead body".

<strong>Conclusion</strong>
<blockquote>There is a reason we all bought a $900 iPad instead of a $300 netbook</blockquote>
I have no doubt in saying this is probably the best case I've laid my hands on to date. Sadly when it comes to a case like this, most people are going to find it hard to look past the price tag, but given the quality of leather and the effort put into this design, I like to think of it as a good reminder of why we pay a little more for Apple gear. There is a reason we all bought a $900 iPad instead of a $300 netbook. Sure we like the iOS and the App store, but it's also that thing that makes Apple unique, its about innovative designs, style and our appreciation of quality and that's exactly what this iPad cover brings to the table.

<a href="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2330.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-11028" src="http://www.mactalk.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/DSC_2330.jpg" alt="" width="600" height="514" /></a>

<strong>Pros:</strong>
<ul>
<li>Unique design</li>
<li>Looks good</li>
<li>High Quality</li>
<li>Outstanding protection</li>
<li>Security</li>
<li>People will bug you in every meeting to find out where you got it</li>
</ul>
<strong>Cons:</strong>
<ul>
<li>Cost</li>
<li>Elastic strap doesnít suit overall image</li>
<li>Stand isn't ideal for people who need to use a stand regularly</li>
<li>People will bug you in every meeting to find out where you got it (so this could be an issue if you donít like being noticed)</li>
</ul>
<strong>Where to get it</strong>

A big thanks to Try and Byte who kindly provided our review sample. Try and Byte are one of the MacTalk sponsors so you can support MacTalk by supporting them. You can order a BookBook online <a href="http://www.tryandbyte.com.au/cgi-bin/page.pl?page=3072&amp;title=Twelve%20South%20BookBook% 20for%20iPad&amp;current=2811">here</a> or contact Try and Byte on <a href="mailto:info@tryandbyte.com.au">info@tryandbyte.com.au</a> to find a local retailer in your area. You can also contact/follow them on twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/tryandbyte">@tryandbyte</a>

Paddy
17th November 2010, 11:07 PM
Try and byte site down?

MissionMan
17th November 2010, 11:11 PM
Yeah, looks like it is. Probably routine maintenance at a time they least expect people to use it.

Paddy
17th November 2010, 11:19 PM
Its peak hour here in the west :P

MissionMan
17th November 2010, 11:20 PM
Its back up again. They must have heard your complaint :p

ZacDavies
18th November 2010, 09:12 AM
12am downtime? That's bizarre.. sorry about that!

Let me know if you have any questions :)

Maxim Litvinov
18th November 2010, 09:29 AM
*faux pas

Admittedly, I already have an iPad case and it was even more expensive than this one which does *look* good, but I do question why the size of the case isn't a 'con'. One of the best features of the iPad is its smallness, especially how thin it is. Sticking it in a case like this would seem to make it about as bulky to take around as a MacBook.

http://www.twelvesouth.com/static/assets/products/productheaderimage/image/BookBook_iPad_Stack_product-2_.jpg

Paddy
18th November 2010, 09:48 AM
I've always use a waterfields pouch because I love the ipad without anything on it.

I have ordered the bookbook because I am ready to try another case and love the innovative idea. Will let you know what I think when it gets here :D

MissionMan
18th November 2010, 09:56 AM
*faux pas

Admittedly, I already have an iPad case and it was even more expensive than this one which does *look* good, but I do question why the size of the case isn't a 'con'. One of the best features of the iPad is its smallness, especially how thin it is. Sticking it in a case like this would seem to make it about as bulky to take around as a MacBook.

http://www.twelvesouth.com/static/assets/products/productheaderimage/image/BookBook_iPad_Stack_product-2_.jpg

I did mention the thickness of the case under the protection area because it does provide substantially more protection than other cases, but it probably should have been listed in cons as well.

On the issue of size, its never been an issue for me and everyone thats seen it hasn't commented on it being a negative when they've seen it in meetings. Normally people are pretty quick to point these things out. I think in this case, the size actually works well with the design so it doesn't just look like a really bulky case.


I've always use a waterfields pouch because I love the ipad without anything on it.

I have ordered the bookbook because I am ready to try another case and love the innovative idea. Will let you know what I think when it gets here :D

It has this effect on people. My mum came to visit us for a week to meet her granddaughter. It was a really expensive visit for her because she ended buying an iPad and a BookBook to go with it after she played with mine and realized her little windows netbook wasn't a great buy.

ZacDavies
18th November 2010, 11:05 AM
I use a bookbook myself, the thickness is a good thing for me as I tend to throw it into my rucksack.. and that rucksack gets thrown all over the place. It's akin to my Booq Vyper (which we don't sell) case for my MBP, I feel confident abusing it.