There are an awful lot of iPad cases that look a whole lot like an awful lot of others. Similar colors, similar designs. The Hokusai iPad 2 Cover by Oberon Design is definitely one of the most striking and unique looking iPad cases I’ve ever seen. The folks at Oberon Design were kind enough to supply me with a review unit which I’ve had for around 6 weeks now.
As soon as I received the case I knew it was lovely to look at and I could tell it was made with quality materials and fine craftsmanship. That’s a great starting point and what I wanted to know next was how good a case it is when put to use. I’ve spent enough time with it to have some thoughts on that and on the case as a whole.
Oberon Design pride themselves on their ‘old school leather artistry’, and on the materials they use as well. Here’s some of their description of the leather used:
The leather we use is custom tanned for us. To facilitate our tolling process, our leather is more natural and free of paint coatings. For this reason, scars, small imperfections, dye color variations and streaks are common and a part of the ‘Oberon Look’. Our leather is drum-dyed, meaning the dye penetrates completely and will never scuff white. Only plastic or vinyl covers present a flawless surface. The plus side of unpainted leather like ours is that it’s less processed and will absorb natural oils that guarantee that your cover will develop a deep, glossy patina over time.
And how it fades:
Our leather, like all high quality leather, is deep drum dyed, not painted. This allows our leather to polish to a beautiful, supple patina with age and enables us to work in our unique tooling medium. Painted leather is less susceptible to fading but will scuff to a white layer underneath the paint.
All drum dyed leather will fade over time, especially those in the least stable spectrums of blue and purple.
They offer a small range of covers for the original iPad and iPad 2 – each with a unique design.
The only option available on the Hokusai iPad 2 Cover is whether or not you want it to have a Camera Lens Hole. I figured I do not take many photos at all with the iPad 2 and would be even less likely to want to take any while using a case like this – so I opted not to have a lens hole cut into the back cover.
These are premium quality cases, and they also come with a premium price tag. The Hokusai iPad 2 Cover goes for $130, as do each of the iPad 2 covers in their range.
It’s a beautiful and eye-catching case, no doubt about it. The design, which I think is a version of The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Hokusai, is striking and very nicely rendered in the leather of the case’s front and back covers.
The leather looks and feels great, and smells pretty good too, as good leather often does.
The inside front cover offers a pocket for keeping some papers and also a couple nice cutouts at the bottom for business cards or similar size items (perhaps a handy iPad cleaning cloth).
This is what I could call a ‘Getting Around’ type case. As in, it’s nice to transport your iPad 2 from A to B in a stylish case like this one, and it will likely get some compliments and create a good impression – but it’s not a case that’s well-suited for when you are using the iPad 2. Not at all.
For starters, it’s not terribly quick or easy to get the iPad 2 in and out of the case (especially in). And the front cover is not at all easy to fold back over so that you can work with the iPad 2’s screen – and does not feel as if it is meant to be.
The case comes with a number of bungee cords. One is used to secure the top right of the iPad 2 into the case. Others are used for a few purposes that I don’t find at all useful. In fact, I found these cords a pain in the neck to have around, and found myself looking for places to tuck them in and get them out of the way.
There is supposed to be a way to use the case in a sort of stand mode (or ‘horizontal mode’) but it involves using the bungee cords and is described in something like an eight-step process. Honestly, I skipped trying that out – as it’s just not the sort of thing I would ever want to bother with.
Another use for the bungee cords is to tuck one of them over the metal clasp on the front cover of the case. I’m not a big fan of the clasp and even less of a fan of having to use a cord with it.
If you’re after a very attractive, stylish and unique looking iPad 2 ‘getting around’ type case, the Hokusai iPad 2 Cover absolutely fits the bill. It’s gorgeous and obviously finely made.
It’s not, however, a case that’s going to serve you that well if you want to use the iPad 2 heavily while it’s in it. If you’re happy taking the iPad 2 out of it whenever you want to use it, then this may not be a big issue. For me, this would never be a frequently used case, because I want to be able to work with the iPad 2 while it’s in a case in most situations.
For more details or to place an order, see the Hokusai iPad 2 Cover product page.
Disclosure: As mentioned above, Oberon Design provided me with a review unit for this case. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the "About" page.