The Smart Cover is not just a gimmick

They say you don’t know what you have until you lose it. Well, I haven’t exactly lost my iPad 2 Smart Cover, but spending time with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus does mean that I’m not using it. The Smart Cover is, as most know, the magnetic front-only cover that Apple released with the iPad 2, a cover that snaps onto the side of the iPad magnetically and can be folded and used as a stand. Apple had a truly innovative idea with that cover, one that Asus will soon be the first to copy.

Not having it on my Galaxy Tab means that I’ve been looking for alternatives. Without luck. 7.0 Plus-specific cases aren’t around yet, and even though people are reporting that cases for everything from the HTC Flyer to the Kindle Fire are working fine, those are all insanely bulky when you’re used to the Smart Cover. While the Smart Cover doesn’t protect the back (there are “Smart Cover accessories” that do, however) it protect what matters the most; the front – and it doesn’t double (or worse) the thickness of your device in the process. Being able to easily remove the Smart Cover is also a great feature that you lose with more complicated “slide X in here”-cases.

That stand functionality is another thing I’m missing. I used to have so many stands around that finding one was a matter of stretching out your hand and grabbing something. Now, I can’t find a single one. There are all these good looking, adjustable, universal stands out there that give you so much functionality, but even so, the dual-angle landscape-only stand functionality of the Smart Cover is pretty much exclusively what I use these days because it doesn’t require anything extra, just fold up the “case”. There have been several instances in the last few days where I’ve had a need to prop up the Tab and suddenly realizing how useful that functionality is on the Smart Cover.

The magnets in the Smart Cover are also very useful for other things. By default, you can use it to automatically sleep/wake up the iPad 2 when you open/close the cover. There’s even an app for studying which uses that feature as part of the app. The Maglus demonstrated how useful those magnets can be for sticking things like a stylus to the cover for storage. I even did a mod to my Wacom stylus to allow for the same thing, and even though it hasn’t made a cameo on the site yet, my new Digizoid ZO 2 portable amp has gotten the magnetic treatment to be able to stick to the Smart Cover. Anyone who’s been as deep into portable audio as to start adding headphones amps to their listening setups have a special relationship to rubber bands, so being able to just stick your amp to the case of a device and have it stick there is not to be underestimated. I briefly tried the ZO 2 with the Tab and gave up as a I couldn’t deal with the thing dangling and have long ago discarded any mounting solutions that would have worked.

So there you have it. I really miss the Smart Cover when I’m using the Tab and it’s gotten to be such a matter of course thing to have on the iPad that I had forgotten what life was like before cases that automatically snap onto the side of the device. I’m glad that Asus is copying the Smart Cover (though again, I don’t think anyone can blame Apple if they decide to sue them on that one) and I hope that in this day of less and less electronics being damaged by magnets we will start seeing this become a standard for everything.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.