A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Poetic Slimline Portfolio case for the Nexus 7, after buying it for my personal use and finding it to be a good choice with a great value proposition. After seeing the review, the folks at Poetic decided to send us some more, in the hopes that I'd give some of their other options for the Nexus 7 a good rundown. The whopping four cases they sent me are all based on the same design (a pouch and cover combo, with magnetic closures and wake/sleep functions), each with slight variations.
On the whole they're certainly solid, and with the inclusion of magnetic functions and various bells and whistles, they'd get at least passing recommendations for those looking for some no-nonsense protection for their Nexus 7. None is particularly slim (despite the name) and all of them share at least one obvious design flaw, but they're perfectly serviceable. And at the time of this writing, three out of four can be found on Amazon for less than $10, a deal that even the most frugal of Android users can appreciate.
Poetic TriBook Leather Case
The TriBook can be thought of as the "basic" model in Poetic's contemporary case lineup. It consists of a PU leather exterior and pouch with a felt interior. The tablet itself is secured with a Velcro strap the slides underneath, and there are cutouts for every tablet function, including the rear speaker and microphone. Slide your tablet into the pouch, tuck the restraining tab underneath, and you're ready to go. The stand function of the TriBook is basically the same as the Slimline Portfolio: a triple-segmented cover that folds up and allows for landscape viewing. It works well enough, though the added space for the "spine" means it's really four folds, and needs a little maneuvering to get just right. A pen or stylus loop hangs off the bottom of the cover on the right side.
Poetic SlimBook Leather Case
The SlimBook is still leather-ish, but it swaps the textured feel of the TriBook (and all the other cases in this review) for a smoother finish, and instead of a relatively bare cover, it comes with both a hand strap and wallet-style card slots. Because this only allows for a single fold in the cover, it also has a propping tab sewn into the back, allowing the user to wedge the cover to hold it in place. It's not the most elegant solution, and in fact it's the least desirable of the bunch for those wishing to use the case as a stand. That said, the SlimBook is indeed the thinnest of the book-style cases, if only by a slim margin, and it still adds considerable bulk to the svelte Nexus. I prefer the smooth leather and white accent stitching of this model to the others, but that's subjective.
Poetic SlimBook Leather Case (Variant)
Poetic also sent us another case which, for lack of a label, I'll call the SlimBook variant. It uses the a combination of designs from the preceding cases, with the more pebbly leather texture, and a bi-fold cover and rear locking tab. For some reason this one has only a hand strap with no card slots, and the loop for a stylus has been moved to the back of the case, where actually inserting one would cause the case to be considerably more bulky than it already is. For these reasons (and because I can't currently find this case on Amazon, discounted or otherwise), I'd recommend going with either of the previous options.
Poetic Dura Book Leather Case
The Dura Book offers more utility than the other case designs, thanks to a detachable pouch that actually functions as its own, smaller case. When you remove this pouch via the Velcro straps, you can use the remaining stiff cover as a stand in either portrait or landscape mode, with three spiffy-looking stoppers in red leather for adjustable angles. This means that in total, the Dura Book offers six different configurations for those who want a stand. While it is easily the thickest of the four cases at just under an inch on the spine, it's also the most adaptable, offering an extra layer of protection when you want it, and a comparatively thin and light pouch case when you don't. The Dura Book has been my favorite during the testing period by a large margin. On the downside, the speaker cutout are only on the removable pouch, so when completely closed, the sound is a bit muffled.
Protection is solid on all four cases, thanks to borders that extend a few millimeters beyond the dimensions of the Nexus 7 itself. I see no way that any normal user could significantly damage their tablet with any of these cases applied, short of some kind of intentional misuse. The pouch design also covers every bit of the screen that you're not using, offering an extra level of comfort for those susceptible to breaking glass. This design choice isn't for everyone; it adds a little bulk and can make actually using the screen somewhat cumbersome, since your fingers can hit the edge of the leather when at the extreme borders of the device. That said, there's enough give in the material to adjust the position of the tablet pretty much to your liking.
The stand features are handy, particularly on the TriBook and Dura Book models. The former gets points for being quick and easy to set up, the latter for having such a variety of options in regard to viewing angle and orientation. I'm not a fan of the rear tabs on the SlimBook models, though - getting the bi-fold cover to sit comfortably in place is often more trouble than it's worth. The SlimBook's hand straps will be useful for those who need to keep a firm grip on their tablet while in active use, though other users may find it extraneous. I can's say that the stylus loops (on all four models) or the card slots (just the SlimBook) will be useful to many.
On the other hand, every Nexus 7 user will appreciate the magnetic sleep/wake function, which many case makers (including Asus itself) omit. Extra magnets provide a comfortingly secure closure mechanism, doing away with the need for straps or hooks.
Aside from the pouch design, which is more of a personal foible than an actual complaint, the only serious drawback I could find with Poetic's book cases were the cutouts for the power and volume buttons on the right side of the tablet. The top of the pouch section and the rear cover are relatively parallel, but with the beveled design on the rear of the Nexus 7, all three buttons are extremely difficult to hit while the cases are in use. This isn't really a problem for the power button, thanks to the magnetic features outlined above, but the volume rocker is a pain to use on all four cases. The cases are also not quite as thin as they could be - even the SlimBook is almost twice the thickness of the the Portfolio case, and the Dura Book is almost three times as thick.
These cases retail for between $25 and $40, according to Amazon's list price and Poetic's own website. But at the time of writing the SlimBook, Dura Book and TriBook are all currently on sale at Amazon. The SlimBook and Dura Book are both an appealing $6.95 to US residents (with free shipping for Prime members) and the TriBook is a jaw-dropping $3.95. All three are being sold directly from Poetic's parent company, Exact-Deal, so they're not coming from some overstocked warehouse in who knows where. At that price, I'd recommend at least the TriBook for anyone who wants a little extra protection, and the Dura Book for those who want more stand options. I haven't seen any of these cases on the big "A" for more than $20.
Poetic's book-style cases are far from perfect, and in fact I still prefer the Portfolio model reviewed previously for everyday use. The pouch design covering portions of the Nexus 7's glass might not be for everyone. But for those seeking more solid protection and a few extra features, they're a good option, with the exception of the SlimBook variant (which isn't currently available from Poetic or Amazon anyway). Unless you need a razor-thin case, the Dura Book and TriBook are worth considering, with the caveat that the volume buttons are frustrating to use in all four designs.