Belkin Cinema Stripe vs. Incipio Slim Kickstand vs. Cygnett Lavish Earth [Folio Comparison]

It’s not easy to choose a case for an iPad. You’ve just spent $500 plus on an Apple device, and you don’t want to take any chances when it comes to protecting it, but you also need something that fits in with your lifestyle. Folios can often be poor, because they attempt at being a case and a stand, and sometimes fail to be either. I’ve had a chance to compare Belkin, Cygnett and Incipio cases. All three are differentiated in design, features and price so there’s quite a bit to consider.

Design/Form Factor

In terms of looks and quality, and the general feeling, it’s hard to ignore Cygnett’s Lavish Earth. It may not be real leather, but the combination of a smooth and grippy interior felt lining and the faux leather works great. Little details like the three strips used to hold your iPad at an angle give a clean and simple look, without being flashy.

The Belkin Cinema Stripe is made of similar materials, but, doesn’t hold its shape as well. After a few weeks it’s looking bedraggled and used. The key difference between this and the Cygnett is that the iPad is held in place by four rubber feet and not an in-built sleeve. The plasticcy exterior doesn’t inspire much confidence when touched, but, it’s easily clean able.

Incipio’s effort is all about thinness. It’s easily the slimmest of the three. The back of the case is one piece of well crafted stiff rubber, lined with a vegan leather, which would look and feel superb if it wasn’t for less-than-accurate application of said “leather”. Around the corners particularly, it’s not exactly neat. And for Apple quality products, I expect an Apple-ethos to be applied in the tiniest of details.

Neither the Belkin or Incipio cases offers anything like the quality of the Cygnett folio when it comes to the look and feel of the case. The Lavish Earth lives up to its name, and delivers.

Viewing Angles

After quality of finish, we have to look at the viewing angles. After all, if a folio case/stand is going to be good it needs to be versatile. Starting with the Cygnett again, it offers three angles for viewing. The strips that hold the device up in video mode are spaced equally, and offer enough distance to vary the angles well. That being said, it doesn’t quite match up to Belkin’s Cinema Stripe folio.

Belkin’s case may look a little ugly and plastic, but it makes a great stand. The five sets of shallow grooves may look pathetic and useless, but the extra grippy interior means that your iPad will be held up sturdily throughout any Annoying Orange marathons you may wish to partake in. Don’t think you’re limited to just 5 angles either. Because the texture is so sticky (almost) it will hold your iPad at virtually any angle. The grooves are just a fall back. Plus, there’s an extra piece of genius on the back. Fold the cover around and tuck it in to the small tab behind the iPad, and you have the perfect typing angle.

The Incipio is nothing short of disappointing in the viewing angles competition. There are  only two grooves for resting the iPad up in, and they’re so close together, you may as well just have one of them. There’s no variety. There’s almost upright, or almost, almost upright. Poor.

As you may have gathered, Belkin’s Cinema Stripe wins the second round.

Protection

A case’s first job, in any situation, should really be protection. If it doesn’t stop my tablet getting scratched or damaged in any way I won’t consider it. Thankfully, all three fair pretty well here. Cygnett’s Lavish Earth may be all about looks, but, it’s thick enough and big enough to offer some great cushioning for your iPad in any instances of dropping, or knocking around. The sleeve holds it securely, but perhaps not as well as the other two cases. Likewise, the Belkin offers some cushioning. Its four rubber feet hold Apple’s magical slate firmly in place with no chance of slipping. It will stop your iPad getting scratched and should do well against day to day scuffs and bangs.

With protection, I like to apply the “will it survive a fall down the stairs” theory. Since I have young kids, various objects (including my iDevices) have been sent lovingly down a set of 13 steps to land on a tiled floor. Out of all three, the only one I’d by happy with sending downstairs is the Incipio. The Slim Kickstand has a tough rubber/plastic back that resists impact well. The cover – quite handily – is held in place by an elastic strap. Unlike the other two which rely on magnets (not good for tumbles). Incipio’s case wins the protection round.

Practicality

There are so many things that make one case more practical than the other. A lot of it is down to size. Cygnett’s Lavish Earth is incredibly pretty, but, it is bulky. The Belkin is pretty slim, but still thicker than Incipio’s Kickstand. The thin front cover and plastic shell on the back give a really sleek feel to a case that will easily slide in to any bag.

That’s not all though. Practicality is also about how easy it is to use. When you want to use the new iPad it needs to be quickly accessible. The Incipio’s elastic strap may be great to ensure the case holds shut, but it does mean that you better not be in a hurry to get to your device. Not only does it take longer than the other two to open, but it’s not equipped with an auto-wake magnet, so you have to physically press the home key and unlock it.

The Belkin Cinema Stripe has a magnetic flap – again an extra step – but not as tedious as the Kickstand. The tab on the back is also magnetic which means your closing tab will fold back and stick firmly to the rear of your case, completely out the way. Even better: the Cygnett. The magnets built in to the front cover not only auto-wake your iPad, but they also hold it shut. That means that opening it is as easy as opening a file. No extra steps or hurdles to get across. It’s a breeze.

Overall

None of the cases are perfect. Each has one or more areas that slightly mar the experience, but overall, the Lavish Earth has won me over. I can deal with the extra bulk, because it offers the best all round performance. It’s pretty, it’s got some great viewing angles and it doesn’t get in the way of you using your device. You may feel differently. If all you want is a slim case that protects your iPad, the Incipio is a great choice, and is the cheapest of the lot. If you just need something for the best video experience, it’s hard to look past the Belkin’s great range of viewing angles.

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