Hard Candy Cases is shipping a full line of iPad cases designed in California for unique looks and rugged protection. We decided to put the Hard Candy Bubble Sleeve ($49.95) through its paces and see how well the case complements and protects the iPad. The "Gold Green" color came with minimal packaging, note the tissue paper and tape protecting each oversized rubber zipper grip.
The two zippers are easily gripped and slide around three sides of the case perimeter to open and close the Bubble Sleeve like a book. The case exterior has a canvas-like texture with a subtle sheen and circular bubbles. Underneath the cloth there's a hard EVA-molded shell that provides a flexible, sturdy core.
Opening up the Bubble Sleeve, we find four bright rubber bumpers and a soft, black lining throughout. The side with the bumpers is flat and is designed to hold the iPad, while the other side has a noticeable grid pattern of padding that rests on the screen when closed.
The rubber bumpers serve to hold the iPad in place and make sure the device is protected in the event the case is dropped while in a closed position. Although the Bubble Sleeve isn't designed to protect the iPad from submersion, between the padding, bumpers and inner shell I'm convinced it would take a pretty bad impact for the iPad to sustain damage in a drop. The strongest use of this case is for protection while in transport.
These bumpers are removable with stitched on velcro and read, "Designed in California by Hard Candy Cases - Made in China." They stick to the black inner lining of the Bubble Case tightly. At first it was difficult to fit the position of the bumpers to the iPad precisely, but there's a method that works. Place two bumpers on the top corners of the iPad first, then lean it down into the Bubble Sleeve until it's in the right position. Then add the bottom two bumpers one-at-a-time until the iPad rests firmly in place.
They are designed to hold the iPad in position while the case is open as long as the case is flat or leaning up at an angle. They are not designed to grip the iPad and hold it inside the case if the angle is too steep or the Bubble Sleeve is turned upside down! In fact, holding up the case sometimes I noticed the iPad would slip out of position slightly and needed to be pushed back into the bumpers.
The Bubble Sleeve can be folded inside out to rest the iPad on a lap or place it flat on a table with no problem. However, the shape and size of the case make it cumbersome with heavy iPad usage. For example, holding the Bubble Sleeve and iPad with one hand while it's open can be difficult. Taking the iPad out of the case when you arrive at your destination will probably be a more comfortable experience.
One place where the Bubble Sleeve can really help is to prop up the iPad at a slight angle on a table for typing. With the case folded inside out, any small object can be placed between the covers to get a good typing angle. The bubbles on the exterior help keep the object in place while the iPad is propped up, and the rubber bumpers keep the iPad from sliding down. Standing the iPad vertically for slideshows or movie viewing isn't an option.
Although the bumpers overlap part of the speaker, this had no noticeable effect on sound quality. Even the sleep button can be pressed through the top right rubber bumper without lifting the iPad. When it comes time to remove the iPad or access the rotation lock button or headphone jack, the device easily lifts out of the case. Unlike some other designs, the iPad can be charged or synced while resting in the Bubble Sleeve with both zippers fully open or by just leaving a small gap for the USB cable at the bottom edge.
Overall the Hard Candy Cases Bubble Sleeve has an attractive design and should be all the impact and scratch protection you need while transporting your iPad. When closed, the case is easy to hold and can be stowed inside another bag with no problem. The dual zippers look sharp and are easy to grip, open and close.
When using the iPad you'll probably find yourself taking it out of the Bubble Sleeve most of the time. Folding the case over for lap use and propping it up for tabletop typing are the only exceptions. The price may sound steep ($49.95) but we found the build quality and design details of the Bubble Sleeve to be exceptional. Hard Candy has delivered as advertised a unique and functional product for the iPad.