Superb Macally Clear Case for iPad Air Won’t Weigh it Down

| In-Depth Review

The Macally Clear Case with Reversible Cover consists of a clear plastic back and a soft cover that's reversible and detachable. Each piece weighs just over 3.5 ounces, and even when using both, the iPad air is both fully protected and retains most of its featherweight feel. It earned a TMO 4.5/5 rating.

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Previously, I looked at three iPad Air cases with the usual review standards, but with an additional emphasis on the weight of the case. That's because the iPad Air is so astonishingly light for its size that one would like to have a case that doesn't add much additional weight.

In that first review, I defined an iPad Air standard for case weight. Cases 6 oz (170 g) or less would be very desirable. Mid weight cases in the 6-9 oz (170 - 255 g) range are acceptable. Anything more than 9 oz. would detract from the 16 oz. light feeling of the iPad Air and cast it into the weight regime of a caseless iPad 3/4 which weighs 1.46 pounds (23 ounces).

The Macally Clear Case with Reversible Cover was late in arriving, but the wait was worth it. It handles the weight and protection balance beautifully. It has two pieces with a combined weight of 7.46 oz. (211 g), and is the best case, by far, that I've seen so far for the iPad Air.

Overview

This Macally case comes in two pieces. There is a clear, polycarbonate back weighing 3.5 oz. (99 g) that's smooth without being too slippery and a soft, detachable, reversible cover, weighing 3.96 oz. (112 g) that covers the face.

The spine of the cover slips into the gutter of the back. IPad holds in place.

The clear back has and interesting feature. One might call the openings at the bottom acoustic scoops. Macally calls them sound reflectors. These are a slight extension of the case, almost invisible, opposite the speakers that redirect the sound forward to the user. The gap is larger and wider than the one on the Speck StyleFolio and is therefore much more effective. I could hear a definite improvement of the sound as a result of these reflectors.

However, I must add that a thin polycarbonate case will not provide the same kind of cushiony drop protection as, say, the Nuguard KX which is very thick (but lightweight). The polycarbonate case, while clear and beautiful, can only go so far when it somes to ultimate drop protection.

Closeup of one of the sound reflectors (right side)

Because the back is sturdy polycarbonate, about 2.5 mm thick, an opening must be left for the power button, and that means no difficulties with pressing the button as with push-through button covers. Finally, I noticed a QC sticker. I believe that's the first time I've seen that on an iPad or iPhone case. Finally, if you pry the edges of the back, opposite the spine, correctly, it's not hard to extract the iPad Air at all.

The reversible cover is sturdy, well made.

The soft cover, available in red or black, has a sturdy spine that fits into a gutter on the clear back. When all the pieces and iPad are snapped together, the cover is in there to stay. The advantage here is that you can use the iPad Air around the home or office with just the 3.5 oz back, but then attach the cover when on travel to protect the display. This is pure genius.

The cover has creases so that you can prop up the iPad Air for either typing in low profile or stand it up for watching videos.

Also, the cover embeds a magnetic sleep/wake function that works either way you attach it: the smooth side out is faux leather, the slightly fuzzy side out is microfiber. Unlike some cases where the magnetic sleep/wake is a somewhat dicey, this one works perfectly, every time without fail.

Of course, with any folding folio case, when you wrap it around the back, the camera is covered. But the fact that the cover is easily detachable mitigates that.

Packaging and Price

The package is a open affair with lots of cutouts that let you touch and feel the textures of this case. Diagrams on the case make it clear how to fold the cover to achieve the two ways to stand up the iPad. The features are listed: reversible cover, magnetic sleep/wake and the sound reflector.

In addition to the limits of protection to a thin shell case, I'll also have to back off from the highest possible rating because neither the website nor the packaging states the warranty. (I spoke with a Macally rep; that was an oversight. The warranty is one year.) Also, the website should state the weight of the two pieces and the whole product so that buyers who are seeking a low-weight case can make a purchase decision.

The package allows one to touch, size-up the case.
The product name on this review copy is slightly different. The Website is definitive.

I find interesting that this phenomenal case is priced at just US$19.99. This has to be the best performance to price ratio I've ever seen on an iPad case. It embarrasses the other case makers.

Case Closed

This is the iPad Air case you want. The cover can be easily detached if it's in the way, say, for photographic use. The polycarbonate back weighs just 3.5 oz. (99 g), and the sound reflectors work well. It also lets the colors of the iPad Air show through. The back isn't very hard to remove.

The magnetic sleep/wake function of the cover works perfectly every time. The reversible cover can be set at smooth side or fuzzy side out. The red and black case covers are great choices.

The overall weight is not bad. The price is terrific. Even the bulge for the gutter that holds the spine of the cover helps keep the polycarbonate off the surface of a table and keeps it from getting scratched.

In short, this is the most brilliantly conceived iPad case I have seen to date. And, in the worst case scenario, even if you damage or lose the cover, replacing the entire case at $19.99 is fairly painless. This is a more than great iPad Air case, and I applaud Macally for taking the extra time to get it right.

The cover wraps all the way around the polycarbonate back.

This comparison chart, based on previously reviewed products, also includes the Macally Clear Case with Reversible Cover.

  Speck
StyleFolio
iLuv
Simple Folio
Newertech
Nuguard KX
Macally
Clear Case w/ Rev. Cover
Style Folio Folio Shell Folio or Shell
Weight, oz. (grams) 8.6 (244) 9.3 (263)  6.4 (182) 7.46 (211) (both pieces)
Power Switch Exposed Exposed Push-thru Exposed
Colors Many, solid & patterned
See Product URL
Red, black Dark Gray Red, black
Magnetic sleep/wake No No N/A Yes
Materials Vegan Leather

Synthetic leather/

Oxford fabric

X-Orbiting gel Polycarbonate, faux leather and microfiber
Features Clasp, display
protector
Closure strap Leightweight
Thickly cushioned
Removable, reversible cover. Sound reflector
Price $39.95 $39.99 $89.95 $19.99
Rating 3/5 (solid) 3.5/5 (solid+) 4/5 (great) 4.5/5 (great+)

Product: Clear Case With Reversible Cover

Company: Macally

List Price: US$19.99

Pros:

Removable, reversable cover, sound reflectors, clear polycarbonate back lets iPad AIr colors show through, props up in two positions, magnetic sleep/wake, lightweight pieces, spine keeps back elevated from table, excellent price.

Cons:

Polycarbonate doesn't have the same drop protection as other thicker, cushiony materials.

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Comments

skipaq

Thanks! I gotta get a look at this one.

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