Ever since I got my grubby little hands on the Asus Nexus 7, I have been looking for a case to go with it. For a while I waited for the official "Travel Cover" thinking that would be the way to go. But official cases are a bit like generic cases, usually drab, sometimes with an assortment of garish colours, mostly utilitarian and well, bland. Then one day on my travels I stumbled across Waterfield Design who kindly agreed to provide DigitalReviews a Nexus
7 Smart Casefor review.
To jump into reviewing the Smart Case would be to start a story part way through. When I first browse the
Waterfield Designs website, it reminded me of an Australian bag company that had its roots in Ballarat Victoria. It has a similar self deprecating style, casually professional and a brutal dose of honesty. In their own words, "No mass production or overseas workforce. WaterField bags are designed and made in San Francisco, where rent is high, labor is expensive and competition is intense. We wouldn't go anywhere else!" Liaising with Waterfield Design, you get the sense that this casually professional approach is not skin deep but is driven by the people behind the products. My impression is that there is some awesome company culture going on in the background.
Hook, Line and Sinker
Generally I stay away from case reviews unless they are ...
noteworthy. The market have plenty of same old, same old - the full cover with the back plate, the leather case engulfing the entire unit, the "Smart Cover" kind of gear. When I saw Waterfield Design's Nexus
7 range of cases, it actually pushed me into considering my usage scenario. When I purchased my Nexus 7 it was primarily a business tool. I envisaged myself using it in certain types of work meetings, the occasional game, eBook reading, media playback. I want something that would not look out of place at a business meeting, but does not look too formal at other times. Most of all it needs to afford a decent degree of protection when I inevitably drop it juggling a dozen things in my hands whilst chasing down my two year old.
When Waterfield Design offered to provide a review sample, I was like a kid in a candy store. The company offers five cases tailored for the Nexus 7 - slip case, zippered case, buckled case, slim, padded and everything in between in seems.
I opted for the Nexus 7 Smart Case. The description on the website says: "Get Smart. The design looks simple, but the intent is hard-core protection without the bulk. Multi-layered padding includes a high-impact, rigid insert and an Ultrasuede® scratch-free liner. At under-an-inch thin, this Nexus 7 Case sports luxurious padding to keep your Nexus 7 snug and secure, yet quickly accessible. No visible stitching keeps the case looking sleek and smooth. All Smart Cases come with a low-profile pocket that can hold your sync/charging cable and power adapter. Get yourself a smart Nexus 7 Case."
The case certainly looks simple but attractive. My review sample came in green, with contrasting brown suede sides. The back has a black semi-transparent mesh pocket which offsets the green nicely. Lastly there is a pull tab on the bottom in matching brown suede. Simple yet very elegant. A clever stitching pattern at the bottom of the case turns banal into art.
A case is a case is a case right? This is true to an extent but what impressed me most with the Smart Case is how snug the fit is. The case fits the Nexus 7 like a glove and this is not limited to just the sides. With the snug fit, the Ultrasuede® scratch-free liner cleans the screen on both the way in and out. It is rather refreshing to pull the tablet out and have it ready to go without having to clean the smudges first.
The case certainly protects the Nexus 7 in normal use. A few jostle and drops failed to dislodge the tablet from inside the case. On the extreme end though, holding the sides of the case and shaking it upside down will result in the tablet sliding out of its home.
Adding the charger and cable naturally adds to the bulk of the Smart Case and it does look clunky. The battery life is good enough that I don't bother with the charger and I generally have an USB cable around somewhere in case of emergency.
There is very little to complain about with a simple case like this, and this is not so much a gripe but a suggestion to smash one out of the park.
The Nexus 7 has a quite well known but not officially mentioned magnetic trigger feature that turns the screen off. I am sure between the stiffener and the scratch-free liner, a small magnet can be snuck in to keep the screen turned off when it is in the case.
Waterfield offers a lifetime warranty to the original purchaser of the product for defects in materials and workmanship. There are caveats on the warranty such as natural breakdown of material after extended use. The full text is provided here. There is also a pretty generous return policy in the same link.
The Waterfield Design Smart Case is fantastic for my usage pattern.
While it is not the slimmest profiled case they offer, it is the right choice for me. It is available here.
for USD$59 in six colour choices. There is no customisation choice for the Smart Case, but some of the other styles offer options such as D-Rings and shoulder straps.
As Waterfield themselves admit, the price is not cheap but this quality and workmanship certainly makes it worthwhile. I know next time I am in the market for a laptop case where I will be looking first! DigitalReviews would like to thank Waterfield for providing the review sample.