While I am more of a leather fan when it comes to cases, there are others who prefer the feel of a good book. Pad and Quill is a master of such materials, as I had occasion to discover this past Summer when I reviewed their Journal Notebooks. The linen-covered books were well-made and felt just like a fine hardback in the hand. When I hold the Contega case for the new 11′ iPad Pro, I get that same impression. While the cover has a rougher, more durable texture, it still feels like your iPad Pro is contained within a fine book.
Throw the book at them
Well, the Contega doesn’t just feel like a good book. It basically is one. Pad and Quill uses traditional bookbinding techniques and Buckrum Linen to hand make these cases in their St Paul, MN factory. This iPad case is made with the same materials and techniques that you would find covering notable literature stashed away in the US Library of Congress.
The result is a rigid and durable, yet thin and lightweight case for the iPad Pro. This works really well with the 11″ Pro model, as it feels similar to a digital notebook in size and weight.
I have to say that the elastic closure strap works very well in this regard, as well.
It just fits the design aesthetic of a hardbound digital journal very well, in my opinion. Unfortunately, there isn’t anywhere to neatly stash it when holding the case in book form, but I still think it works better with this case design than a magnetic closure would.
Stuck on you
Like Pad and Quill’s Oxford Leather Case that I also reviewed recently, the Contega also uses the same 3M adhesive to hold the iPad Pro in place.
As with the former, this results in a simple and elegant case design. It also means that the Contega is thinner and lighter than many other similar iPad cases. Since there is no frame or inner shell for the Pro to snap or slide into, the outer shell is all there is. This means the outer shell can be made solid and rigid enough to provide protection, but the case will still be thin, light, and simple.
A stand-up case
While the exterior of the case is hard and has a rougher texture, the interior facing the iPad is covered with a soft rubberized material.
This insures that your screen has a softer surface against it when the case is closed. It also makes an excellent surface to hold your iPad Pro when the case is open in landscape in orientation.
The rubber material is also textured and does a nice job of holding the Pro steady and in place. There is one notch in the material that holds the iPad firmly in place, as you can see above. The angle is a bit on the steep side for me, so I do wish there was another such location notch included.
That said, you can also position the iPad at alternate angles, as seen above. This isn’t quite as secure as when held by the notch, but it does work, though. You just have to be a little more careful. It actually works quite well paired with a Bluetooth keyboard, as it holds the iPad in place as you type.
In fact, it’s how I typed the entirety of this review.
Like the Oxford Leather Case that I reviewed previously, the Contega can hold the iPad in portrait orientation, as well. I would only suggest doing this on a hard surface, but it does work well on one.
Getting a grip
Carrying your iPad Pro in Pad and Quill’s Contega case is light and easy. The Buckrum Linen’s texture means that this case is easy to grip and hold securely. It is also easy to hold this case in book form, or with the front cover folded back behind the iPad.
As with the Oxford Leather Case, the elastic strap can also pull double duty and hold the front cover securely behind the iPad Pro.
One bit of difference between the Contega and other cases the is the additional thickness that the bookbinding creates at the base.
This means that the spine is a bit thicker than the iPad, creating a little bit of additional room in the case for the iPad to move back and forth just a bit. This isn’t an issue, as the iPad is still held securely in place. The hinge in the back of the case moves and insures that the iPad is always held against the surface of the case, even as the angle may vary a bit. It is just a bit different than the usual case design.
Like any good 2018 iPad Pro case, the Contega also works great with the new Apple Pencil 2.
As you can see, it stays in place and isn’t impeded by the case from magnetically attaching or charging.
Going the extra mile
Also like the Oxford Leather Case, the Contega is compatible with the 2018 iPad Pro Smart Keyboard Folios.
However, unlike the Oxford, there is a bit more room in the Contega to accommodate the Keyboard Folio. This makes it a little better suited for dual use, in my opinion. In fact, where the Oxford’s product page qualifies its compatibility and says that the Magic Keyboard is more recommended, the Contega’s page is more straightforward about that fact. If you are looking for a cover for your Smart Keyboard Folio, then this is the better choice for you.
While the Contega didn’t win me over from my obsession with leather cases, it is still a very worthy contender in my book (get it…book. Couldn’t resist). It has every bit of the smart design and handmade quality that recently made me fall in love with Pad and Quill’s Oxford case. In fact, after reviewing the Contega, I am seriously considering picking one up for my 12.9″ iPad Pro. While I prefer the Oxford’s materials, the Contega is more practical for me to use with my Smart Keyboard Folio, and that’s the iPad that I use the Folio with. There are times when I just don’t care to lug around an extra Bluetooth keyboard, and the Contaga is a perfect way to beef up and class up the Folio.
The Contega is available in two different colors, Linen Gray and a darker Charcoal. I reviewed the Linen Gray version and found it to be pleasing to the eye. I had absolutely no issues with it as a stand-alone case. However, if you are looking to pair it with a Smart Keyboard Folio, unless you like color contrasts, you might want to look harder at the Charcoal version of the Contega. It looks like a pretty close match for Apple’s keyboard case, which should make for a more unified looking match.
One other advantage that the Contega offers over the Oxford and other high-end leather case is price. You get the same great design and quality with a little less sticker shock. The 11″ Contega comes in at $99.95, but is currently on sale for $84.96. And unlike many other cases, the 12.9″ version actually comes in at the same price.
When it’s all said and done, Pad and Quill’s Contega is a great alternative for those who don’t care for leather, but want a high-quality and professional looking case for their iPad Pro. Also, if you are looking to beef up the protection that Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio provides, this is currently one of the very few alternatives. Either way, you won’t be sorry for making your iPad Pro feel like a hardbound copy of great book.