I normally try to avoid devices or accessories which try to do TOO many things. I have usually found that even if does one of those things well, it usually fades on the others…or more likely, blows them all while trying to do too much. That is especially common when a product or category is new…no one really knows what the public will need or wish from the inevitable accessories…as a case in point, I mention the iPad Suit.
When I first read the marketing info for the Bi-Axis Multi-View case from Tuff-luv, I wondered if this would be one of those cases that just tried to do too much. The name alone made me worry a bit. A Bi-Axis Multi-View? That sounds like something Mr. LaForge would need to recalibrate to get the warp drives back online. Actually what it claims to be is not just a book style case, but also a viewing stand for either landscape or portrait mode. A case, a landscape mode stand AND a portrait mode stand? Well..maybe. Fortunately the kind people at Tuff-Luv sent me a prototype of their Bi-Axis Multi-View case to see for myself.
On first viewing, I really liked the look of the case. If the Executive Jacket from M-Edge I reviewed last week is a sleek leather business suit, then the Bi-Axis Multi-View is a motorcycle jacket, all snaps and attitude. Michael Douglas in Wall Street versus Marlon Brando in The Wild One.
The first thing you notice looking at the BAMV (sorry, I can’t keep typing Bi-Axis Multi-View, I am getting carpal tunnel just reading it) is that snap strip down the center of the cover. It looks quite sharp, but it isn’t there just for show, but we will get to that part soon enough. That racing stripe seam from the lower left corner is not just decoration either. The designers of the BAMV really managed to blend form and function very nicely on the outer cover of the case.
They were not quite so successful on the back. First and foremost the stand is folded in against the body of the case and snapped in place, looking a bit odd and out of place when not being used. I am not sure what else they could have done with it, but like this it is awfully glaring. Also, the stand is kept closed by two snaps, which are closed be pressing against the back of the iPad which I really didn’t like. Undue pressure against a device is never a good thing. The next problem I had with the back was the snap closure, which is bulk and oversized and only for decoration. The business side of the snap is small and unobtrusive, while the large silver disc is just for decoration, but doesn’t fit in with the rest of the case. I also makes the case look off balance and awkward when laid flat on a table. Lastly I wish it closed more tightly. It had a little too much give for me. I prefer a case like this to close very tightly with very little movement once it is secured.
On the inside, the iPad is held in place behind a thin leather frame which actually looks quite sharp. The leather is well stitched and firm without being bulky. The device is slid into the frame from the side, and held in place by a small closed snap. I would have preferred such a closure on the outside as well rather then the big silver snap, but that is a minor point. The frame has all the required cutouts done very cleanly and feels nice and secure when the iPad is snapped into place. The only slight problem I had with this frame is that it was a bit tough to get the iPad out of it, and certainly not something I would want to do in a hurry. However, the cutout for the connector port is large enough that you can sync it while still in the case.
The BAMV case certainly works pretty well as a book style case for the iPad, but how about those claims of being two kinds of stand as well? This is where those snappy decorations start coming into play. Remember that snap strip on the cover? Well it wasn;t just for show, it really unsnaps. You use those to secure the fold out stand into place. Just open up the snap strip, unsnap the stand to expose another folded snap under it (wow..LOTS of snaps on this baby. Not exactly TSA-Friendly). The folded bit snaps onto the point in the snap strip that puts the screen at the desired angle. I know, confusing…luckily there is a video at the end of this review that walks you through that part.
Here it is all assembled. Despite being a bit confusing the first time I did it, I worked it out and it gets easier the more you do it. You do need to turn the case at odd angle to get everything snapped, so I strongly advise you set up the stand WITHOUT the iPad in the case. Likely it wouldn’t fall out, but why take chances. To it’s credit, once the snaps were closed the stand was very secure and felt nice and solid once I slid the iPad back in. I really liked this set up even through I was dubious at first. It might make it a bit easier of the snaps were just a little larger, or the bit of leather that had been folded under the stand was a bit longer so it easier to handle. As my fingers are not those of a svelte fashion model of rather those of a manly man at the height of his manliness, all the little snaps were a little tough for me to manipulate at times. If figures the big snap goes on the outside as decoration, while the little snaps are in here where the work is being done.
The landscape mode stand really does work like a dream. You have a lot of control over the viewing angle and it is very secure and solid. I had no worries at all keeping it in this view, and even when the desk got kicked a few times it stayed nice and steady. For a far more acute angle you can flip it over so the open part of the triangle is on the bottom, but this view is FAR LESS stable and I would not advise it unless you have no choice.
Alright, so the landscape mode is the easy part, what about portrait mode? Well, in order to manage it, you need to look back at that racing stripe seam on the cover…fold the corner out at that seam, and set the case on it’s narrow edge.
Here is the BAMV case with the corner folded back, set up as a portrait mode stand. Folding the corner back puts the iPad at a decent viewing angle. While this mode is not as stable as the landscape mode, and you can’t really control the viewing angle much, it works surprisingly well and would be useful for those times you want to keep it in a portrait for reading but don’t want to hold it all the time, such as on an airplane or at your desk.
The Bi-Axis Multi-View case actually did live up to it’s slightly awkward name. It does have two axis’s (Axii?) and can be viewed in multiple modes quite effectively.
I really enjoyed using the BAMV. It looks sharp and stylish, it feels nice and light but still highly protective. Even more impressively, it managed to be a solid case for use as well as a great landscape stand and a decent portrait stand. Hats off to the Tuff-Luv team, the case is the best example of sheer design in an iPad case I have seen yet. There are some things I was not thrilled with (the closure strap, the folded stand) but overall, the case is an excellent choice for anyone who is going to need to set their iPad on a desk for use a good deal. If you are hoping to watch a lot of video with the iPad, then this is definitely a case for you. After all, with a name like Bi-Axis Multi-View, it has GOT to be good.
The Tuff-Luv Bi-Axis MUlti-View case is available from i-Nique for 43.99 British Pounds.