Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab easel case roundup

There are several accessories rolling out for the Samsung Galaxy Tab and in this article we take a look at three with kickstand functionality.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

I tried out a Galaxy Tab at the beginning of the month, see my initial hands-on, and then went out the next day to purchase my own. While the device can probably handle carrying and storage in my bag, I wanted some form of protection that also would allow me to prop up the Tab for watching video content. I ended up buying the Incipio Silicrylic, Samsung protective leather easel, and Scosche FoldIO cases and have now reached a conclusion about which works best for me.

As you can read below, each case has its strengths and all are good options. I posted several photos of each case in my image gallery, along with the video below so you can avoid having to buy all three to make your own decision. See if you agree with my conclusion and if not I would like to know which case you prefer.

Image Gallery: Three Samsung Galaxy tab cases, including the Samsung, Scosche, and Incipio models.
Image Gallery: Scosche case in hand
Image Gallery: Three Samsung Galaxy Tab cases

Case lineup and how I got here

The first case I purchased was the Incipio Silicrylic case because I have had some great experiences with Incipio's cases on my iPhone and iPod touch devices. I didn't like the kickstand design, lack of front display protection, and bulk of this case so I then moved on to buying the official Samsung Galaxy Tab Protective Leather Easel Case from the Sprint store after hearing MoTR podcast co-host James talk about it and finding it $10 cheaper than the T-Mobile one. I thought this case added too much bulk to my Galaxy Tab experience so I then went full circle and bought the Scosche FoldIO case from my local T-Mobile store.

Hands-on with the Incipio Silicrylic case

The Incipio case I had on my iPhone essentially added a thin protective hard shell layer on the back so the back would not get scratched and there was some edge protection. I was expecting the Galaxy Tab one to have this same kind of design and protection and guess I did not spend enough time checking out the use of silicone in the case. The Silicrylic case is a two piece system where there is a silicone inner protective cover that your Tab easily fits into with port/button covers and openings designed to fit the Tab perfectly. The outer level of protection is a hard shell plastic that takes a bit of work to get secured in place around the inner silicone piece.

Once you have it secure and in place, primarily takes some working around the corners, it fits perfectly and offers an excellent level of protection on the back, corners, and edges. There is no protection on the front of the Tab. The silicone material covers the power and volume buttons, but they are easily activated by pressing the silicone buttons so buttons and ports were not an issue. There is a bit of thickness added around the display, but the display was fully accessible and usable.

There is a kickstand piece that snaps out of the back, but it was a bit flimsy and the angle for viewing is not adjustable. You also need to use this case on a surface that is not glossy or the kickstand tends to slide around a bit. I found the kickstand part to be more of an afterthought than something that really matches the quality and fit of the case.

The Silicrylic case is available in black online for $39.99, but I decided I will be returning mine for the reasons mentioned above. If you want serious back and side protection and have no need to ever take your Galaxy Tab out of the case then you might want to consider this case.

Hands-on with the official Samsung Galaxy Tab Protective Leather Easel case

The next case that I wanted to try out since I heard so much about it from folks on Twitter was the one for sale at the Sprint store. James found brown case while my local Sprint store only had the black one. This case is constructed of high quality leather materials with a soft suede interior and the Galaxy Tab is very easy to get in and out of.

You simply slide your Tab into the pocket in the right side with material around the three other sides that includes opening for all ports and buttons. Under half of the right side you will find two business card/credit card holders, including one of clear plastic which you can use for a card to identify yourself in case you misplace the Tab and case.

On the left inside of the case you will find three ridges where you place your Tab left side (bottom in landscape orientation) to go through different viewing angles. This works very well and the case can be propped up on any surface at an angle you desire.

To keep the front flap secure there is an elastic strap that flips round the right side of the Tab to hold the front to the back. I like this design and have seen this used on Kindle cases.

This official Samsung case is available at Sprint stores for $39.99. I have decided to return this case though too because it adds too much bulk to the Galaxy Tab package for me personally and is tough to use for ebook reading since the front flap really does not wrap around behind the back easily. You can do it, but it does require a handful and is not great for ebook reading.

Hands-on with the Scosche FoldIO case

I initially avoided buying the Scosche FoldIO case at my T-Mobile store because it is priced at $49.99 and I thought that was a bit high for a case. It is priced at $44.99 on the Scosche site, but with shipping you end up paying more than the store price. I did get a $50 credit from T-Mobile for my Galaxy Tab purchase since they dropped the price of the Tab $50 one week after I purchased it so I guess it can be justified that my case was free ;)

The Scosche FoldIO case has a simple piece of cardboard sales material that fits over the front flap and I didn't even realize Scosche made it until after I opened it up and put my Tab on it when I saw this name on the front flap. The packaging just states that it is a T-Mobile case. The Galaxy Tab fits in with four corner tabs and two tabs on the right side of the middle holding it in place. At first I thought the two interim non-corner tabs were flawed since they do not wrap all the way around to the front, but then I realized if they did the front cover would not close flush and allow the securing tab to hold it closed.

The Tab slides out of the two corner pieces on the left when you flip it into landscape orientation and want to switch into one of the three available viewing angles. You will see the back of the case has a seam so it can bend to accommodate these three angles and a very stable platform is in place when you do this.

All ports and buttons are accessible since the Tab is truly only held in place with the corners and two intermediate tabs. The front flap is held securely by an inch long tab that wrap around the right edge and holds everything together.

This case offers the least additional thickness and bulk of all three that I looked at and it almost feels the same as a naked Tab with the addition of a solid protective front piece and the ability to easily get into a comfortable viewing mode. I also really like that you can flip the front flap around to the back and comfortably read ebooks on the Tab with the case in place.

I am really enjoying this case and think it is worth the $49.99 I paid for it. I find it funny that it took two other case purchases to convince me I should have purchased this case in the beginning and gotten the deal where you get a percentage off when you buy two accessories.

Quick thoughts on the HDMI dock

I also purchased the HDMI Multimedia Dock from the Sprint store, but after opening it up I realized you still need to buy or find an HDMI cable, another Galaxy Tab charging cable, 3.5mm cable, and USB cable to enable all the functions of the dock. I also then realized I don't have any HD content on the device that I really have a need to use for outputting to a television. I was thinking it would be a good charging dock and it likely is, but for the setup I have at home it really doesn't make sense and I cannot justify the $49.99 price. I later found Carrypad review that confirmed it really wasn't a smart purchase for me so I am returning it with the Samsung case I purchased last week.

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