On the case: protecting the Nexus 7

A short while back, I lamented the lack of options for those looking to keep their brand new Nexus 7 Android tablet protected from accidental bumps, bangs and scrapes.

While there were a number of options available for other 7-inch tablets in the stores, many of them were designed to more specifically fit things like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, or the Blackberry Playbook, with molded plastic inserts that just wouldn’t fit the Nexus 7. Some others were more generic, but not necessarily suitable (for example, I found one that fit, but whose elastic retaining strap pinched the power button).

Since that earlier plea, I’ve discovered a few options that can do the trick. Some are designed specifically for the Nexus 7, while others are originally designed to work with other similarly-sized tablets, like the Kindle Fire.

In fact, there are quite a few options available at MobileFun.com, which opened up a Canadian version of its site (http://ca.mobilefun.com) just after my original lament. (They also have a number of options available for all of the other major tablets, as well as a selection of smartphone accessories too. So it may be worth a look even if you’re not specifically looking for a Nexus 7 case.)

I got my hands on two folio-style cases that work with the Nexus 7 – first up being the Pro-Tec Leather Effect Black Case ($19.50). Technically designed for the Kindle Fire, it works just fine with the Nexus 7; it has two elasticized straps at the top, but they’re loose enough not to cause an issue with the Nexus 7’s power button. On the inner front of the hardcover, there are a couple of pockets that can be used for business cards, credit cards, or other small paper items. It comes with a leather-like tab to secure the cover when the tablet’s not in use (just like many professional daybooks). The downside: it’s really just a folio case, with no obvious way to stand it upright to, say, watch a movie. But with the hard flap on the front, it’ll keep your screen safe, which is the point.

A bit more versatile is the SD Tabletwear Nexus 7 Smart Case ($23.49). In this one, the Nexus 7 slides into a leather-like pocket, and is secured in place by a wraparound flap that uses an internal velcro fastener to prevent everything from sliding around. You can tell that this case is designed very specifically for the Nexus 7, as it has special cutaways for the Nexus 7’s controls and ports (notable example: the aforementioned wraparound flap has a tiny hole in it that opens up just in front of the Nexus 7’s side microphone, as well as holes in the rear of the case to accomodate the Nexus 7’s speakers). And while the Smart Case also has a hardshell-style front, it’s foldable and magnetic, forming into a triangular stand that holds the tablet upright for movie viewing (and keeping the front cover closed when not in use, no less). It’s a brilliant little design, and so far it’s my Nexus 7 case of choice.

I had noted during the original piece that my stopgap solution had been to let the Nexus 7 rattle around loose in my Tom Bihn Brain Cell (which was technically designed for a full-sized notebook). Turns out Tom Bihn – who design and manufacture all of their high-quality products right in their Seattle location – had a number of tablet pouch options for the Nook Color and the Kindle Fire that work with the Nexus 7 too. (A Nexus 7 model is in the works but still forthcoming.)

If you’re looking for a basic sleeve without too much padding, there are cork-style top-loading pouches for both the Kindle Fire ($20) and the Nook Color ($20), as well as ultrasuede versions with a softer interior finish, for the same price. Each of these is zippered to keep the tablet in, and have a snaphook for securing them inside larger Tom Bihn bags/backpacks (which I recommend without any hesitation), or inside other bags with a similar loop.

However, I’d probably recommend the padded pouch, which has an extra layer of foam to provide a bit of cushioning for both the front and the back of the tablet, especially if you are keeping the pouch inside another bag or case. Again, they’re zippered to keep the tablet inside, and have a snaphook on the outside. Even better, at $15, they’re a bit more affordable, too. (If you want to save two more dollars, check out the more generic Padded Organizer Pouch, in medium size – it has the zipper on the side but is otherwise remarkably similar.)

All of these pouches have the side benefit of being able to house another similar-sized gadgets too, from other 7-inch tablets to your e-ink-based e-readers. So if you decide to move on to a different style of case later, you can always repurpose these pouches. (And if they’re anything like Tom Bihn’s other products, they’ll be durable enough to last quite a while.)

I double-checked with Google as well about the availability of Google’s own Nexus 7 cover, and for the moment, it’s still unavailable with no current target date for availability. If you have your heart set on the official case, you can sign up to be notified when it becomes available in the store again. But if you just can’t wait, it’s obvious that there’s a growing list of options, even if you can’t find them at your local electronics boutique.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Sean Carruthers
Sean Carruthershttp://www.globalhermit.com
Sean Carruthers is a freelance writer, video producer and host based in Toronto, Canada. Most recently, he was a Senior Producer at butterscotch.com, where he was responsible for the conception, writing, production and editing of a number of web video shows, including Lab Rats, How Do I?, Status Update, The Noob, and more.

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