The Dodocase Solid is a folio case for iPad 2 and iPad with Retina Display (iPad 3 and iPad 4), and it's favoured by none other than United States President, Barack Obama. Hand crafted in San Francisco, it's among the most charming iPad cases we've ever reviewed, though it's not without it's issues.
Dodocase makes a range of cases all based on the same basic design, the appeal of which comes almost entirely down to its hand-built styling. Fashioned like a hardback book, they use a bamboo inner section to hold the iPad with thick cardboard used to cover the front, back and one side. This cardboard is then covered with cloth available in a number of different styles and finishes.
The Dodocase Scholar range has a leather covering, Dodocase Color Block uses bright bold cloth colours and Dodocase Artist Edition has a range of patterned designs. You can even create a custom design with choices of inner and outer cloth types (patterned, solid or leather) and colours, elastic colour, and embossed message. We're looking at the simple Dodocase Solid design, which uses plain cloth covers in a range of colours and costs $69.95 ($90.94 including shipping and taxes to the UK).
The appeal of the Dodocase design should be immediate to anyone that has always liked the stylistic and tactile qualities of a proper hardback book but the design isn't just an aesthetic one, it's actually quite practical too. Yes, the chunky natural materials add a fair bit of bulk and, at around 225g, a fair bit of weight too but not so much that your iPad becomes suddenly too heavy or bulky to cart around.
What's more the simple design actually provides a good deal of protection. That thick cardboard and bamboo should protect your iPad from any serious damage if dropped onto a hard surface, no matter what side it lands on, which is more than can be said for many cases. Plus, what damage the case does take, it should wear fairly well as the naturally rough materials won't look ruined by a few dents or scratches – just think of how an old book still has charm despite it's battered look.
Looking a little more closely at what the Dodocase Solid offers in terms of features, the front cover which is held in place with a simple elastic strap, can be opened up and flipped all the way round to lie almost flat against the back. The slight angle it creates provides a slightly more comfortable viewing and typing angle for when using the iPad flat on a desk or lap. It can also be used to prop up the tablet at a more upright angle by resting on the cover's edge. It's not the most secure method we've ever encountered for doing this but on any not-too-slippery surface it does the job, offering a steady footing and a degree of angle-adjustability (the leather version also offers even better grip than the fabric version we're looking at here). Many alternatives like the Pong iPad case and Apple's own Smart Cover and Smart Case do offer a few more options when it comes to propping up your iPad, though.
The iPad itself is held securely in place by four tough rubber grips in each corner, and it's nice to note the whole range of Dodocases is compatible with iPad 2, 3 and 4, so if you've an older model you can still upgrade and keep the same case, at least until the iPad 5 comes out.
Round the sides of the bamboo are cutaways for the dock connector, headphone jack and volume and mute buttons, while a bamboo button on the top edge enables you to press the iPad's power button. You can also choose whether to have a hole cut in the back for the camera to see through, though rather gallingly this costs extra, and it does ruin the effect somewhat.
Much more of a problem, though, are the holes you don't have to pay for. Those for the headphone jack and volume controls are too small so certain headphone jacks either won't fit or only fit at an awkward angle, while it's a real pig to reach the volume and mute controls. Certain accessories that use the dock connector may also not fit properly – you will have to remove the iPad from the case to fit it in most docks too.
Something else that's missing, which some alternative folio cases do offer, is somewhere to store a stylus or proper pen and paper for real note-taking. These would add bulk and are hardly essential but for none of the range to have the option is surprising, especially given the popularity of the little in-sleeve pocket on the similarly styled Leatherman range of notepads.
The Dodocase Solid is sure to appeal to those that like the stylistic and tactile appeal of a hardback book, and that like the eco message of the case's natural manufacturing materials. From a practical standpoint it also offers a good deal of protection of bumps and scrapes. But a couple of practicality issues and a fairly high price mean it's not quite an instant classic.