I think it’s safe to say that every single person on the face of the Earth likes to customize their own things. It doesn’t matter if it’s by coloring your hair or spending $20000 on customizing your car, we all like having stuff that are unique and special to us. For years the gadget customization business has been rather limited, with the ability to engrave your iDevice or buy custom vinyl skins to put on your devices as the only real options. As with all aspects of technology however it has evolved, and nowadays you can get custom, well, anything- including plastic hard cases for your iPad.
SubCostume is rather special in a few different ways. First off, they allow you to print whatever image you want on a plastic case, which is pretty neat. However their ordering system also deserves a mention and some praise. Instead of going through an online Flash-based design system like most such companies make you do, you instead download an app (there is still an option to do it online, but that’s not the primary way to go). There’s both an iPad version and an iPhone version, covering most of their range (they only have one non-Apple device, the Galaxy S). The apps are free and essentially function as design and ordering systems for the cases. You can insert existing “stickers” from their archive as well as choose the background color, but for some reason the text input and pattern selector from the online designer isn’t in the iPad app. You can however insert pictures from your own photo library, so in theory there’s no limit to what you can insert. You generally don’t order a custom case with existing designs anyways so this is the feature that really matters. The neat thing is that you can rotate inserted images using multitouch (as well as scaling them) so you have full control over everything.
Once you’re satisfied with your design you move onto checkout. Shipping is actually free worldwide right now, probably because the cases are made in China where shipping is so cheap they can include it in their cost. Once the checkout process is done and your $30 (iPad version) case is in line to be made, you can just sit back and wait.
The case that then arrives at your door is a plastic snap-on case that protects the back of your iPad as well as the corners. It doesn’t really absorb as much shock damage as something like the Speck Candyshell, but it’s easier to get on/off, has better access for ports, it’s not as heavy, and it has your own design on it! It also comes with an adjustable, removable stand that you can use with the case to prop it up in various modes. The case I received (from SubCostume directly) had a small dent in the side where the volume buttons are, something their representative said was a mistake (and that they’re looking to completely redesign that part of the case, even though it works great IMO). You don’t actually see this error when the case is on though, and I doubt this is on all cases. Parts of the design of my case also had a greenish tint where it should be green, which I don’t know the reason for. The case still looks great and there’s no danger of the design peeling off or anything, and the actual case itself is well designed too. I wouldn’t mind using this case even if it didn’t have my design on it, which says a lot.
As for a close look and description of the case, check out the embedded video I made which goes into a lot more detail with both the ordering process and the resulting product.In the video I show you the before-mentioned dent, in case that scared anyone off (without reason).
For the price, this case is a real bargain. Even without the ability to print your own design I like this case a lot, despite it not providing as much protection as those tank-like cases from Speck and others. The ability to easily snap it on and off means it’s very compatible with various docks and you could even buy several cases and switch out as you go. This sort of case reminds me a bit about the face plate craze that went on with cellphones some years ago (back before color screens). I think SubCostume has made 3 breakthroughs with this project; customization, ordering system and price. $30 doesn’t get you much in the ipad case world (at least not if you pay MSRPs) these days so $30 with free wordwide shipping for a nice case with your own design and an included stand is phenomenal. All they need now is an iPad 2 version, and it wouldn’t hurt to expand to Android as well! Those new EEE Pad Transformer owners that’ll pop up in a week need cases too.
To order one, you go either to their website, download the iPad app or the iPhone/iPod touch app. This case is perfect not only for people who wants custom designed cases for themselves, but also companies who want to showcase their logo on their products. With iPads now being used in everything from hospitals to schools and museums, this type of case should be the first any of these companies go out to buy.
If anyone wants to show their loyalty to NBT in form of an NBT case, here are some graphics:
The far left design is the one used for this case. The middle and right designs are two different variations (gray or white background) of a new, higher resolution design that will pop up in a couple of weeks when certain other customized accessories arrive. Click the thumbnails for the full versions (PS: make sure you pay attention to which way you’re holding the iPad in landscape mode- home button right or left- and rotate the images accordingly).