Case reviews for Motorola Xoom: Otterbox Defender and Monaco leather folio

Summary:Reviews of the Otterbox Defender and Monaco book-style folio cases for the Motorola Xoom.

This article will actually be my last review of gear for the Motorola Xoom, as I have recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and will be sending the Xoom on to Jason Perlow.

I acquired the Otterbox Defender for review several days ago. I've owned several Otterbox cases for my smartphones in the past and have always been impressed by the quality.

If you're not familiar with the Otterbox Defender series of cases, you should be aware that they are bulky, and fairly heavy. They will increase the size and weight of any device substantially. They also will increase the ability to withstand a great deal of damage to your device. The Defender is typically comprised of a silicone skin and a polycarbonate framework that mesh together.

The Defender case for the Xoom goes a step further. Included is an extra polycarbonate shield which has multiple purposes. One is as a screen shield for travel, which protects against impact damage. The shield can also be snapped onto the back of the case, which greatly adds to the bulk of the device, and has access to the power button. Also, the shelf serves as a stand for the Xoom, for both typing and media viewing. However, it does not serve as a stand in portrait mode.

The case itself has an interesting feature. On the bottom edge, a small panel opens in the silicone skin to reveal access to all of the ports. Also, a larger panel on the back opens to provide access to these ports for clearance when plugging your Xoom into a docking cradle without having to remove the entire case.

I did find some details about the Otterbox Defender case that were not up to their usual high standards. For one, the polycarbonate shell did not fit flush against the surface of the front of the Xoom. While the case felt fairly solid, there was a bit of flex in it that resulted in some creaking while holding it. Also, the cutout of the polycarbonate frame along the top edge to provide clearance for the camera results in a lot of flex and a loose fit along that edge. It would have been better served with a rounded loop around the camera for clearance instead of removing a stabilizing piece.

Overall the Otterbox Defender case is still a solid, protective case, if a bit pricey at a cost of $89.95. The minor issues I described are outweighed by the overall protective capabilities of the case. Keep in mind that with the extra polycarbonate shield, the Xoom is about as bulky and weighs as much as a netbook computer. There's always a tradeoff with a high level of protection.

I also acquired a leather folio case from Monaco. Unlike the official leather folio from Motorola, which clamps around the edges of the screen, the Monaco case provides a complete wraparound sleeve with a velcro tab to hold the tablet in place as demonstrated in the video below. Monaco leather cases are distributed by WirelessGround.

One of my major complaints about leather cases for Android tablets is that there is usually a lack of high quality ones, even from the manufacturers themselves. Obviously the market determines availability; there are many more quality leather cases for iPad devices simply because there are many more iPad devices on the market.

That being said, I shopped around and finally settled on the Monaco book-style case. The outer shell is made of smooth grain quality leather, while the inside has a rougher texture leather. This is actually a good design choice, since it allows the user to keep a firm grip on their tablet while the case is folded open.

The cover of the Monaco case is held closed with small magnets, which removes the need for a closure tab that gets in the way while you hold your tablet. The cover folds back and fits snugly under a flap on the back of the case, providing a built-in stand for low-angle two-handed typing, or upright display for media.

There is no cutout for the power adapter along the book spine edge of the case. This is a minor quibble; having an unmarked cover is more aesthetically pleasing. Of interesting note is that the case actually conforms to the curved shape of the back of the Motorola Xoom. Attention to this kind of detail is appreciated.

I think the only thing I don't like about the Monaco case is the smell. Don't get me wrong; it doesn't smell bad at all. In fact, it's quite pleasant. For me, however, the mark of a truly high quality piece of leather workmanship is the smell of freshly tanned leather. A new baseball glove or expensive leather jacket has this smell. I only wish the Monaco case smelled like that when I first received it. It's a terribly minor quibble, and just personal preference.

Topics: Tablets, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.