The Griffin GuitarConnect Cable that we reviewed was a unique, well-made iPad 2 peripheral. We're back with more from Griffin, with an ultra-light case, minimalist stand, and a double-duty charger. Do the three follow in GuitarConnect's footsteps? Here come the reviews …
Griffin Elan Folio Slim
The Elan Folio Slim looks respectable from a distance, but as soon as it’s in hand it’s easy to tell that it might have been rushed out a bit to try and compete with Apple's Smart Cover.
The material is supposed to be thin and light, hence the “slim” portion of this folio’s title. However, the Elan Folio Slim is not able to walk that fine line of being both svelte and sturdy. It’s wafer-thin and wavers in hand, and to an extent just doesn’t feel like it’s enough case for the iPad 2.
I also found it to be slightly difficult to get the iPad 2 in and out of the Elan Folio Slim. It features a tab to hold the tablet in place, which is a nice protective feature, but also makes the case feel like its clutching the iPad 2 with plans to never, ever release it. Other cases that I’ve used that also have this tab method allowed for an easier time taking the iPad 2 in and out, and felt equally secure. Blame can most likely be attributed to the Elan Folio Slim’s extreme thinness, which provides a bare minimum of room to maneuver the iPad 2 into place.
The biggest downfall of the Elan Folio Slim is that it left our iPad 2 falling down. Like the Smart Cover, the Elan Folio Slim promises to support an iPad 2 in two convenient viewing angles -- one on a slight incline for optimal typing, and the other in an upright landscape stand mode.
The typing angle worked perfectly well, and was significantly more comfortable than typing with the iPad 2 flat on a table. Things came crashing down, however, when trying to use the upright landscape position. Our iPad 2 took a tumble backwards the first time we tried the position. Luckily it was fine, but anytime a case puts a device in more danger rather than less a red flag shoots up immediately.
After wearing the case in a bit, I found that there were times I could use the upright landscape mode completely worry-free. However there are still instances where it felt unstable, and achieving an adequate and acceptable level of stability required a lot of pulling and adjustment.
The Elan Folio Slim leaves a whole lot to be desired. It also has some redeeming qualities that keep it from being a lemon; however they’re unfortunately buried beneath the blaring complaints above.
The Elan Folio Slim is ultimately professional looking, the typing stand mode is useful and comfortable, and despite its thinness the case offers significantly more protection than the Apple Smart Cover while maintaining a lower price point. At $40 though, it’s still not a bargain, and the negative and positive features are neck-and-neck.
While I won't say the Elan Folio slim is a must-avoid, it’s also a world away from being a must-buy.
Griffin Loop Stand
It seems unfair to pass too negative a judgment on the Loop. It suffers from the same chronic iPad 2 dropping problem as the Elan Folio Slim, but while it was advertised as an iPad 2 product initially, it has since been pulled from that listing.
The Loop is well built with a minimalist approach. Its grey-black color scheme and high structural quality are both reminiscent of the GuitarConnect Cable, and this solid stand feels next to unbreakable. The bottom of the stand features three rubberized feet to prevent sliding, and these provide more than sufficient traction. Overall, the Loop’s quality is very solid all around.
The build of the loop is not the issue, however.
When we first received our Loop, it was still being advertised as either an iPad or iPad 2 stand. A more recent look at the Griffin website has shown that it is no longer being advertised for the iPad 2, and for good reason.
Moments after we put our iPad 2 into the Loop, it fell back out. In portrait mode, this happened very quickly. In landscape mode, the tablet slipped slowly, and would eventually topple out if it wasn’t attended to and repositioned.
The slightly elevated typing mode presented no problems, and similarly to the Elan Folio Slim was by far the safest and most useful way to prop the iPad 2.
I can imagine that the different dimensions of the original iPad would make the Loop an acceptable stand for the last-gen device (or at least it wouldn’t be an active safety hazard). Griffin must have jumped the gun on its advertising for the Loop, and figured it would be able to bridge the gap and function for the iPad 2 how it had functioned for the original.
Again, Griffin has since stopped advertising the Loop as an iPad 2 accessory, hopefully before any iPad 2’s sustained serious damage. Considering that the listing has been pulled, and our iPad 2 did not suffer any ill effects from its tumble(s), this reviewer finds it to be a case of no harm no foul.
The Loop has nothing to offer iPad 2 users. I cannot speak as to whether the same can be said for anyone considering it for the original iPad.
Griffin PowerDock Dual Charger
The Griffin PowerDock Dual sets itself apart by pulling double-duty, charging an iPad and smaller iDevice simultaneously. It’s unquestionably better than its counterparts above, and proves to be a useful solution for people living with multiple Apple products.
The Griffin PowerDock Dual has a couple of components, the most important of which is the primary base. It is made of solid black plastic and, like the Loop, has very good traction and structural integrity. It is slightly indented on the front, with the idea being that users can place their keys, change, or other small objects directly in the vicinity of their tablet and iPhone or iPod.
The two 30-pin plugs are set in a groove, and are catty-cornered to one another. Two clear plastic pieces can be inserted in front of and behind the charging docks to provide extra support for an iPad 2.
The PowerDock Dual comes with an adapter and four interchangeable plugs, allowing it to plug into outlets from all over the world.
The PowerDock Dual provided fast charging speeds, could charge an iPad 2 and iPhone or iPod simultaneously, and provided a quality viewing angle for any of these devices while they rested in the dock.
I never had any problems getting the PowerDock dual to recognize and charge any Apple device I’ve put in it, and I’ve tried it out with multiple types of iPods. Griffin says it supports both versions of the iPad, the original iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 4, all versions of the iPod Touch, the iPod Classic, and fourth generation or later versions of the iPod Nano.
The PowerDock Dual retails for $60, which is a decent-sized investment, especially for a charger. It’s worth it though for anyone with an iPad or iPad 2 and one or more other Apple devices. Especially if you plan on continuing to purchase Apple products for the foreseeable future, the PowerDock Dual will probably be with you for a long time, and is twice as useful as the large majority of charging docks.
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