Dapp FlightPad Versailles iPad case review

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"We started a company that focuses on making modern goods using traditional methods and materials," Dapp co-founder Tobias Wacker told me. The company's FlightPad case for iPad is made using traditional book-binding techniques, Wacker said, and each is handmade from scratch in Ann Arbor, Michigan. "We believe deeply in meaningful products — goods that have personality and a connection to the guy who them." Wacker said.

So the story is nice and the quotes are straight out of Sir Jony Ive's mouth, but is the FlightPad your next iPad case?

DESIGN

At first glance, the FlightPad looks a lot like the famed DODOcase for iPad, and its designers realize that. "We actually started making the FlightPad for ourselves because we were disappointed with the quality of the DODOcase. To us, it still had a very plasticky and factory-like feel, and didn't seem very sturdy," Wacker said. "Don't even get me started on cracked bamboo trays!" he added.

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The FlightPad comes in a variety of materials and flavors, but the Versailles I tested is made out of soft polyurethane Portofino leather. Like any matte leather coats or things you might have, the FlightPad does collect a bit of dust and needs wiping down every so often. Dapp does say that the material is water and oil resistant, however. The material wraps around and culminates in little folded edges on the case's inside, almost like how you'd wrap a birthday present. On the inside, the FlightPad is lined with a regal pattern silkscreened on recycled cotton paper, which is glued to the case's innards: solid chipboard panels. The iPad is held inside the FlightPad using four very meticulously placed elastic straps. They hug the iPad very tight I'm glad that inserting the iPad into all four straps simultaneously is kind of like putting a fitted sheet onto a mattress — a tiny bit difficult, but you're glad it fits so snugly. There's also one giant strap that wraps the entire FlightPad, just like on a Moleskine notebook.

Once the iPad is securely in place, the straps are much less distracting than solutions other cases use to envelop your iPad so it stays put. There's no way the iPad is going to slip loose from the FlightPad. While the FlightPad offers on solution to prop your iPad at a slight angle (like you can with a Smart Cover), it does work well in upright triangle mode. The edges of the FlightPad are textured and sticky enough that your iPad won't collapse onto the table like a person doing the splits. But any leather wears over time, so I do worry that these grippy edges will eventually lose some of their grippy-ness. In the end, this case is not really built for consistently propping up your iPad.

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The FlightPad leaves half an inch of space between your iPad and its surroundings on its top edge, side edge, and bottom edge, which means that if you toss the FlightPad in your bag, you won't hear a metallic clank when your iPad hits the ground. This gap also means that it's somewhat difficult to wedge in your iPad's power cord since the bottom of the iPad is already angled and doesn't provide much margin of error.

Because the FlightPad is handmade, it does have its share of imperfections. While these imperfections certainly give the product some character, a couple things are pretty noticeable. For example, when you fold the top of the FlightPad onto its back (for using the iPad in landscape orientation on top of a table), you might notice that the top doesn't line up perfectly. It peeks out just slightly, like when you fold a magazine onto itself. While my unit could certainly be slightly defective in this regard, I'm willing to bet that most of Dapp's products share little nuances that make them unique. It's just a matter of whether these kinds of things bother you — the kinds of things that don't happen with factory-made products.

One other nice feature about the FlightPad is that it has magnets inside of it, like Apple's Smart Cover, which means that when you open and close the FlightPad, your iPad unlocks and locks.

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WEIGHT

Considering you'll be carrying around your iPad inside this thing all the time, you don't want it to be too heavy. And the FlightPad is kind of heavy. While it's already difficult to hold the iPad in the air to read for any length of time, the FlightPad makes it even harder. It's much bigger and heavier than a Smart Cover, but it also protects your iPad to a much greater extent. We asked about why the FlightPad was so hefty, and Wacker responded: "we actually had quite a discussion about this. We tested some lighter versions using wood instead of chipboard on the inside. Interestingly, a lot of people thought that it seemed too light — a heavier product is perceived as being sturdy and 'solid," so we decided to go with the heavier version, which also follows more traditional bookmaking techniques." So the question is, do you want a heftier iPad case? Fortunately, the FlightPad is still really easy to carry around because its spine is just about a perfect width for your fingers to wrap around as you're walking around.

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WRAP UP

The FlightPad is an extremely well-built product with a great attention to detail and knowledge of who might want to buy it. This case turns heads when you're at the coffee shop or cafe, and will also look fancy under your arm as you walk across the street. It also protects your iPad from falls and any other inclement weather conditions — as long as you keep the big black band firmly wrapped around its side while you walk with it. It's a hefty product, but if you're using the iPad on your lap or on a table like most people, then you really won't mind. You might even come to like its heft, which implies quality and a good sense of craftsmanship. In the end, the FlightPad is a great case for your iPad that combines durability with handsome and modern yet understated looks.

GOOD STUFF
Premium materials
Hefty and protective
Silkscreened cotton paper
Elastic straps that hold iPad in

BAD STUFF
Not everything lines up perfectly
Not great at propping up iPad for typing
Silkscreened cotton paper is fragile

PRICING/OPTIONS

The FlightPad is also priced competitively, coming in at just two dollars cheaper than a DODOcase (for the FlightPad Versailles, at least, which is $57.00).There are a few models of the FlightPad you can pick up including the Versailles (pictured), the SoHo, Ando, Lapa, and Bercy. "Each has a distinct theme organized around worldwide destinations," Wacker told me, "with diverse patterns for both inside lining and outside binding." If you don't like any of the options, you can even request a custom FlightPad.

Other options: DODOcase, BookBook Case, various things on Etsy