Case will appeal to iPad-toting lawyers who prefer the feel and look of a book

By Spencer E. Farris, Esq

Portenzo iPad 2 Notebook style case

Portenzo, the maker of handmade iPad cases that have the look and feel of a book or a journal like Moleskine, sent Lawyer Tech Review a complimentary iPad case for a product review. I asked Spencer E. Farris — St. Louis personal injury lawyer, legal humorist with The Levison Group and LTR guest columnist —to try it out and write a review.

Geri L. Dreiling, Esq, Lawyer Tech Review editor

I was pleased as punch to receive a huge packet from Portenzo, maker of iPad cases. After opening the box, though, I was a little concerned to see that the cases themselves received more protection in shipping than they offered my iPad.

Portenzo iPad case simulates book pages.

iPad 2 book-style case

The case looks exactly like a book. Around Christmas I tried to make an iPad case from a book but quickly regretted the experience. Portenzo’s use of wood grain on the edges simulates book pages very well. Fit and finish are outstanding, and custom models are available. If the company made satirical book covers, used law book styling or licensed classics, the “fun quotient” of their product would go up quite a bit. I think this case is a good choice for the iPad user who feels guilty about reading his books in electronic format. Unfortunately, I am not that user.

A magnetic trigger on the case turns off the device.

iPad2 case by Portenzo

The cases are delightfully technologically deceiving. The iPad 2 has a magnetic trigger to blank the screen when a magnet is placed nearby. Magnets in the cover of Portenzo case seemed to work perfectly, although, as with the light in my refrigerator, I can’t be absolutely sure that it goes off when the door is closed. The cover also turns off your iPad if you squeeze the upper right corner. I like to see old-school design with newfangled technology.

Empty Portenzo case open

The Portenzo case avoids muffled audio.

The sound chamber design alleviates one problem common to iPad cases: protection at the price of muffled sound. iPad speakers will never appeal to audiophiles, but I did not notice any significant loss of sound volume or quality when the iPad 2 was encased. Lawyers listening to work items will use headsets to preserve confidentiality, and those listening to nonwork items will want a headset anyway.

The iPad case is not designed for extreme-duty users.

All these features come at a price. Cases start around $55. For a few dollars more one can buy a case with an integrated keyboard, or a case for extreme duty use. While the case will protect the iPad screen when the cover is closed and the body from cosmetic damage, it doesn’t seem to have any absorbing or force damping technology.

At a Glance: Portenzo iPad Cases

  • The handmade cases mimic the feel of books.
  • The case does not muffle the iPad’s audio.
  • A magnetic trigger turns off the iPad.
  • The impact protection offered is not as substantial as that provided by other iPad cases.

(Editor’s note: Scott Mertz of Portenzo says, “Many of the cases with wooden frames do not offer any shock absorbing protection, however we use rubber corners in all of our cases. Between the rubber corners and the material makeup of the case, you will have protection from falls. We have had customers inform us that their case took a very hard fall and the Portenzo case did what it was supposed to and protected the iPad.”)

Finally, the strap which holds the book cover closed is elastic, but not big enough to accommodate a pad of paper or file folder. You cannot carry anything but your iPad in this case, a drawback for those who like to have everything in one place when we leave the office.

Overall, I thought the case was a clever idea carried out well. If you want to use an iPad in court without looking like a techie, this case is one good solution. For the rest of us, more effective and less expensive solutions abound.

The principal of the St. Louis-based S.E. Farris Law Firm, Spencer Farris represents personal injury victims and their families in a wide variety of product liability, auto accident, medical malpractice and premises liability cases.