A-Solar Xtorm Power Tablet Sleeve Case for iPad 2/3/4 Review

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This is the A-Solar Xtorm Power Tablet Sleeve, designed to fit the iPad 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations. To break it down, it is a folio iPad case that incorporates a cylindrical removable battery. We've been testing it out over the past few months and have discovered that it's a rather reliable and flexible charging solution.

Design

Let's start by looking at the design of the case, it's a tad longer in width than a regular folio styled case, this is all because of the cylindrical battery compartment sewn into the spine. Its exterior mildly textured leather finish has a stylish and professional look. It's comfortable to hold and use, but is also a little heavier than other folio styled cases due to the battery. The case is available in two colours, 'Star' (AB420) which is a rustic brown and 'Pollux' (AB421) which is black.

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Functionality

Most of the exterior features of the iPad have been cutout of the case to be easily accessed. The 30 pin dock connector/Lightning Cable, volume rocker, mute/orientation switch, auxiliary input and rear camera are all cutout of the case. However, the speaker and microphone are both covered by the Power Tablet Sleeve, muffling both very mildly. The iPad's screen within the shell segment of the case is protected and covered along all sides, the entire back and the bezel is also heavily covered, but does have enough wiggle room not to become restive of the screen.

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The iPad is removed and entered into the case via a flap that's positioned portrait, which we like. This is something that really grinds us when it's implemented in landscape, because the iPad falls out when you're using it if the flap is positioned at the ground, whereas this flap is positioned at the top of the case and we expect not many people use their iPads upside down, although you can.

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Protection

The lid of the case has thick padding which helps to protect the screen from any impact. The iPad is pretty much entirely covered when in the A-Solar Xtorm Power Tablet Sleeve, so any light bumps and scrapes are going to be confidently diverted away from the iPad itself. Heavy drops from around two to three metres and smaller impacts should be withstood by this case, it has a rugged and dense build.

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Battery & Charging

The removable battery is stored within the hinge of the case, it's only removable when the case is open, when it's closed the tension of the hinge securely locks the battery into place, making sure it doesn't accidentally slip out. It has one USB 2.0 port and one micro-USB port along the side. These can be used to charge the battery and to charge a device. The intended device this is supposed to charge is the iPad, but we've found ourselves frequently using it to charge other devices because its connectivity options are so broad. One mild flaw we noticed was that the case doesn't encourage you to carry a cable to charge the said iPad, and the non-existent space for this discourages people to carry the necessary USB cable. The interior of the case does include three pockets but these are only suitable for business cards and similar shaped items.

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The battery holds 6600mAh. To put this into context it will charge the iPad batteries within each supported generation to the following percentages: It will charge the iPad 2 to around 85% and the iPad 3 & 4 to around 50-58% from drained. A-Solar claim six hours of extra operating time is achieved and from what we've seen in our tests this is entirely accurate, and with the iPad 2 it goes well beyond six hours. The speed of charging is about the same as it is from a wall outlet. This is definitely an interesting and organised design because the removable battery can be conveniently charged and used away from the case. We greatly prefer this to cases with exceptionally bulky battery designs. The one downside that the battery has is that it doesn't have any charge indicator on it, so you're left in the dark knowing how much juice it has left.

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Usability

The case is flexible in the manner that it can be used. The folio piece of the case is attached to the shell segment via a buckle, so the iPad can be used solely within the leather shell which it sits in. This enhances and frees up the manner in which you can use the case; we like to remove the folio piece sometimes as it can become cumbersome to have it always attached. But the folio piece doesn't just protect the screen of the iPad, it doubles as a stand too. Four grooves within the interior of the case's lid are available for the iPad to be angled and sat within. The lowest angle provides a comfortable and secure typing position. The other three are more upright, ideal for watching video or interacting with Apps. The iPad can also be swivelled in either landscape or portrait view thanks to the buckle.

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When we open and close the lid of the case it doesn't awake or go to sleep. The magnetic control of this is something we and most other consumers have grown accustomed to and the lack of this is simply inconvenient. The Power Tablet Sleeve doesn't use magnets or a latch to secure the case closed either, instead using an elasticated band which is only really necessary to use when moving around with the iPad. Generally the lid says firmly closed without it.

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Overall

We liked the smart and stylish design and rugged build quality of the A-Solar Xtorm Power Tablet Sleeve Case for the iPad 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations. The inclusion of a low profile removable battery is beneficial and practical. The only three inclusions we'd like to see that jumped out at us from testing were the ability to know how much charge is in the battery, somewhere to pack a short USB cable and the magnetic sleep and wake ability for the iPad.

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