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Griffin IntelliCase: A great Smart Cover alternative for iPad 2

TUAW reviews a lot of iPad cases. That's made me somewhat jaded about new cases, and when Griffin Technology pitched me on the new IntelliCase for iPad 2 I was a bit on the skeptical side. After using this case for a few days, however, I've changed my mind -- the IntelliCase (US$59.99) is an excellent alternative to Apple's Smart Cover ($39 - $69).

Like the Smart Cover, the IntelliCase has magnets embedded in the cover that automatically turn on the iPad 2 when flipped up and turn the iPad off when closed. The IntelliCase cover is made of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), a material that seems somewhat harder than the polyurethane and leather used on the Apple Smart Covers. The inside of the lid is the same TPU material, which will keep it from picking up dirt and hair that are attracted to the microfiber lining of the Smart Covers.

Unlike the Smart Cover, the IntelliCase also protects the back of the iPad. I normally use a combination of a Smart Cover and an AViiQ Smart Case ($49.99) to provide complete and lightweight protection to my iPad 2. The back of the IntelliCase is a slender piece of polycarbonate that snaps onto the iPad 2, and the overall weight of the case seems lighter than the combo I use.

The Apple Smart Cover folds origami-like into a small triangular tube that supports the iPad in both a vertical movie stand and more horizontal keyboard stand mode. Since I'm sure that Griffin's designers were aware of Apple's legal stance towards unlicensed copies of their designs, they chose a different mechanism for propping up the iPad 2. Like the original Apple iPad cover, the plastic back has a "flap" that the cover folds into to hold it in the movie and keyboard stand positions.

All in all, the IntelliCase performed very well. It protects the iPad 2 better than the Smart Cover, provides a magnetic on/off switch like the Smart Cover, and folds into a solid stand for movie viewing or keyboarding. One complaint I have is that the IntelliCase is a bit smoother than the Smart Cover, which makes it more likely to slip out of your hand. If the IntelliCase cover had an embossed pattern to make a rougher surface, I think it would be just about the perfect iPad 2 case. The other negative? It's only available in black, whereas many other cases can be had in a spectrum of colors.

If you're about to buy an iPad 2 or already have one that is in need of protection, definitely consider the Griffin IntelliCase.