Apple's made a glamorous, Pixar-inspired movie to entice you into purchasing the Smart Cover, which aims to protect the front of your iPad 2. The Smart Cover isn't so sexy in person, but its simplicity means we won't be taking ours off. It's not suitable for true gadget abusers, though, and it can be annoyingly flappy at times.
The fabric version of the case costs £35, while the leather one will set you back £59.
The best thing about the Smart Cover is that it attaches to the iPad 2 via the magic of magnetism. The Smart Cover's hinged side connects to the side of the iPad 2 with a satisfying click, and the cover itself clings to the tablet's screen like a baby monkey clings to its mother.
We were always taught to keep magnets away from computers, but apparently those days are over, since there are magnets in both the case and the tablet. That's why you can't use the Smart Cover with the original iPad -- the older tablet doesn't have a sufficiently magnetic personality.
When prised from the screen, the cover flaps about freely. To stop it doing so, you have to hold it against the back of the tablet with your hand. In this state, the Smart Cover is at its least impressive. It doesn't fit neatly behind the iPad 2, and it even protrudes slightly, depending on how the hinge is sitting, potentially digging into your hand.
But one bonus is that the case will stick to metal surfaces, so you can stick your iPad 2 to your fridge. Just don't blame us if the magnets fail and you end up crying over a smashed screen.
The magnets also mean that the iPad 2 knows when the cover is closed, so it goes to sleep automatically. It also wakes up when you open the cover. If you don't like this feature, you can turn it off in the iPad 2's settings menu.
Stand and deliver
The Smart Cover is divided into four differently sized sections, so that you can fold the case into a triangular stand. Once you get the hang of it, it's very quick to do.
You can lean the iPad 2 against the stand so that it's at a steep angle, for watching videos, or a shallow angle, for typing and swiping. We were anxious, at first, that the stand was too wobbly. But we used it to watch video on a moving train without any problems and, after spending plenty of time with it, we've come to rely on it.
If you use the stand on a sloped surface, such as your lap, sometimes it won't sit still. If the angle of the surface is steep enough, the weight of the iPad 2 pulls it down, and the stand flips over to the front of the tablet.
The stand runs along the long edge of the iPad 2, so it can't be used to prop up the tablet in portrait mode.
Colour your world
The Smart Cover comes in a polyurethane fabric version or a leather one. We tested the polyurethane option in grey. It looks futuristic in a Blake's 7 kind of way, but we'd suggest going for a more colourful version if you're seeking some pizzazz. The polyurethane case also comes in blue, green, orange and pink, while the leather case is available in deeper black, blue, red, brown and grey tones.
On the inside surface, the case has a soft micro-fibre lining that lives up to its promise of cleaning the screen. The lining between the cover sections, however, leaves thin stripes of fingerprint grease on the screen, as it doesn't make contact with the display. You can't easily slide the cover around to clean the screen either -- you have to wait for it to happen in the course of opening and closing the cover.
The Smart Cover only protects the front of the iPad 2, which is most vulnerable. The aluminium rear of the tablet can take care of itself, as long as you don't mind some scratches.
The edges of the iPad 2 could do with more protection, though. Since they're thinner than the edges of the original iPad, they're far more vulnerable to dents. We've already managed to get a 4mm-long chip on the top of our iPad 2, after just four days in a backpack with the case on.
The iPad 2 Smart Cover isn't quite as magical as Apple might lead you to believe, mostly because it flaps about when open. Also, the stand only functions in landscape mode, and, although the case protects the screen, it isn't suitable for people who treat their gadgets harshly.
But the case's magnets are undoubtedly cool, and it hardly adds any bulk to the iPad 2. We hate bulky, ugly cases, so the Smart Cover appeals to our desire to travel light and protect the iPad at the same time. The cover can also be converted to a stand in the blink of an eye. All of its plus points mean we'll be sticking to the Smart Cover like a magnet.
If you want to check out the alternatives, have a gander at our roundup of cool iPad 2 cases.
Edited by Charles Kloet