03
Sep
t

The new Nexus 7 is not an expensive device, but it feels distinctly premium. The build quality has been markedly improved from the 2012 incarnation and the screen is incredible. It might not be a big investment (thanks to Google's aggressive pricing), but it's still an investment to protect. DODOcase makes some of the most attractive cases and sleeves you can get for a tablet, but they come with a big price tag.

Does it make sense to pair an inexpensive Nexus 7 with one of the more pricey cases out there? We've got a Durables Sleeve, DODOcase Solid, and DODOcase Folio to take a look.

DODOcase Solid

This is the most iconic version of the DODOcase – the style that started it all. The DODOcase Solid is made by hand in San Francisco by experienced bookbinders. This thing really does look like a book, and not just at first glance. I've had people look at the case several times before realizing there was something amiss.

The exterior is essentially a hardcover book made from a cardboard base covered with heavy cardinal-red bookcloth. If you want to know what it feels like, grab a real book, take off the dust jacket, and get to feeling. Inside is a gray gunnysack material that, again, feels very authentic.

wm_S1

When open, the right side of the "book" is home to the bamboo tray that holds the Nexus 7. From the outside, the bamboo is oriented in such a way that the grain looks like the pages of a real book – it helps complete the illusion. I was initially worried that my tablet would not be held tightly enough by this frame. However, the little leather nubs in the corners really pin it down. If anything, the DODOcase Solid might hold the tablet too tightly.

The first time I removed the N7 from the DODOcase, the back cover of the tablet began to separate. Yikes. You have to bend the case just a little to get two corners of the tablet free, then slide it out. It's fine once you figure it out, but the device is definitely not going anywhere.

The cover has a magnet placed to work with the Nexus 7's sleep/wake sensor, and it's a good thing. The 2013 Nexus 7 has a much more dramatic taper on the sides than the 2012 model. That means the power button and volume rocker are tucked in more. The DODOcase Solid has a cutout to access these buttons, but they're just in there a little too deep. You can hit them, but not conveniently. The magnetic cover saves you from messing with the power button too much, but the volume rocker is almost as tough to get at. Taking screenshots with the N7 in a DODOcase is annoying.

wm_S2 wm_S4

The entire package feels extremely premium and durable, with one exception – the elastic band. Like many cases, there is a strap that you can wrap around the case to keep it closed. This elastic closure feels a bit cheap and rough. I don't think it's going anywhere, but it doesn't feel awesome like the rest of the DODOcase Solid.

One issue here is that the case doesn't have any mechanism to stand up. It's essentially a book, so bending it backward in a stand configuration isn't happening. This makes it a bit awkward for using the tablet in landscape, too. That's probably a deal killer for some people, but I can live with it.

wm_S3

Overall, this is a beautiful case that seems to offer good protection for the Nexus 7. This one is $79.95, plus $4.95 if you want a camera hole in the back.

DODOcase Folio

Whereas the DODOcase Solid is about being svelte and bookish, the DODOcase Folio is about features. This case is physically a bit larger than the Solid because in addition to the tablet, it houses a notepad, business card pockets, and a pen holder. It also has the same premium construction and handmade appeal as the Solid.

wm_F1

The outside of the Folio is made from dark gray bookcloth, but the spine is a leather strip sewn right into the front and back covers. This is decidedly the least bookish aspect of the case, but it kind of works and looks cool. When you open the case, the gray fabric is carried through, but you can't see most of it because of all the stuff in there.

The Folio is flipped from the orientation of the Solid. The tablet is on the left, and the right is where you'll find the 24-page refillable notebook with Mohawk Superfine paper. Seriously, this paper is awesome, and I've never called paper awesome before. The whole thing screams quality from the grain and weight of the page, to the stitching holding each sheet in. It also screams "I'm expensive," because it really is. Only 24 sheets and a refill is $9.95. You can use a regular notepad, but that rather defeats the purpose of buying the DODOcase Folio.

wm_F2 wm_F3

Under the notepad are a pair of business card holders, and on the inner surface of the spine is the pen slot. Behind the flap holding the notepad in place is an extra slot you can tuck random (thin) items into. The only thing this case is missing is stand capability. Like the Solid, this is for transportation and in-hand use, not watching video at a table. Although, the Folio feels too heavy to hold for extended periods of time.

Just like the Solid, the Folio has a bamboo frame to hold the tablet in place. It is similarly serious about grabbing onto your device. However, because of the way the case is laid out, there is nowhere for a magnet to interact with the N7's sensor. Thus, you're stuck using the power button all the time, and it's not any more convenient here. It also has the same somewhat-cheap-feeling elastic strap to hold it closed.

wm_F4

When you get everything bundled up in the Folio, it's a neat, dense little package. I can see someone using this case if they need more than just the tablet, but not a whole bag. It's not super practical for day-to-day use, but it does have kind of a wow-factor. This case is quite a lot more expensive at $124.95.

Durables Sleeve

Okay, all this book-shaped stuff is fine, but what if you just need a nice slipcase to keep the N7 safe? That's the Durables Sleeve. It's a much simpler affair than the standard DODOcases are, but it will probably have wider appeal.

wm_D1

The sleeve's exterior is made from a light brown waxed canvas material. It's just a little rough, but feels satisfyingly durable (as the name would imply). There is a lovely leather grip sewn on to one edge of the sleeve that wraps around both sides. This gives you just a little more grip when picking the case up. The interior lining is a funky bright orange twill that will keep your tablet safe and sound. Sandwiched in between the two visible layers is a third layer of recycled felt for additional padding.

wm_D2 wm_D4

The Nexus 7 seems very well protected by the Durables sleeve. I was initially concerned about a slipcase with an open top. I usually opt for a case I can close so I don't inadvertently pick it up upside down and dump the tablet out on the floor. To my surprise, that's not a problem here. The Durables Sleeve is a very snug fit, so any pressure from holding it is sufficient to keep the table in place. I pick this thing up the wrong way all the time, and the N7 has never made a break for it. Grabbing the sleeve by the sides or the end lets the tablet slide right out, as well.

wm_D3

The craftsmanship on display here is truly amazing. There's not a stitch out of place, and it feels luxurious in a rugged sort of way. I feel like this isn't the kind of sleeve that will wear out — it gets broken in. The Durables Sleeve is a very practical way to keep your tablet protected, but it's pricey too. This one will run you $49.95.

Should You Buy One?

These are expensive cases, yes. If price is a major factor, no one would blame you if you grabbed one of those $5 sale cases on Amazon. However, if you don't mind spending a little more for something well-made, there's an argument to be made for the DODOcases.

The DODOcase Solid is elegant and understated. You can haul your tablet around in this case just about anywhere and no one's going to bat an eye. There is an undeniable cool factor in having a case that looks so much like a book. The magnetic wake feature is great on this case, and the tablet is held in place very well. There's no stand, but it's kind of understandable considering the book construction. I really like the way the Nexus 7 looks in this case. If that's shallow, then call me shallow. For $79.95, I can see this being a justifiable purchase if you aren't looking for a stand and like pretty things.

wm_Final

The Durables Sleeve is simple, efficient, and very portable. I like that it doesn't weight the tablet down while you're using it, and it looks so good. The fabrics are high-quality and the stitching is impeccable. If you have $49.95 to spend on a case, get this. I like it quite a lot.

As for the Folio, I can't really say most people should consider this one. It's heavier than the other cases, has a notebook with expensive refills, and no magnetic cover. It's just a pain to get at the power switch and volume rocker in this case. I think it looks neat, and there are certainly people that would be willing to just stuff the essentials in the Folio and head out, but the price is up there. At $124.95, I can't recommend this to most N7 owners.

I'm disappointed the DODOcases don't have stands, but the company makes a different product for that – the Hardcover line. These are cheaper cases with a reusable adhesive to hold the tablet in place. If you do decide you want a DODOcase, you had better plan ahead. Each one is made to order, so you'll have to wait 3-4 weeks for yours to arrive.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • TY

    I think these cases are too pricy and not practical enough. Guess I'm not the intended audience.

  • ddh819

    the expensive cases might be worth it if you could use them for the next gen model also, but that seems unlikely except for the sleeve type cases

  • Kenny O

    Almost $85 for a case?? For my budget that is crazy expensive. I am perfectly fine with my inexpensive Poetic case for $5. I'll use the $80 I saved to put down on the next gen a year from now.

    • Pyrotek85

      The only way I'd pay that is if I knew I could continue using it for new models for at least a few years, which I wouldn't bet on.

      • Perv Bear

        Even if that was the case no.... For the price I made for my case (moko stand case) I'd need this case to last me a good 12 future devices lol.

  • Stylus_XL

    Beautiful cases, terrible pricing.

  • Magneira

    Wow people cant get arround the price... Its no cheaply made, google subsides the price, its made with lets say the same material as as 500 dollar tablet....

  • Stefan Constantinescu

    That sleeve looks great, thanks for reviewing it. May end up $50 poorer now.

  • AMGala

    That's a LOT of money for a case made for a tablet which will just get replaced in a year. If you've got that much money to spend on a case, you are probably the type that would buy the newest version of the tablet every time it comes out.

  • Alex James Simon

    I have the Dodocase Solid and I love it, yes it's expensive, but it feels very good in your hands, I can get it stand up, pretty easily, and it actually saved my brand new Nexus 7 a few weeks ago from a deadly fall onto a concrete garage floor, my tablet still works perfectly no cracks to the screen, didn't come out of the bamboo frame, when it fell, it fell screen first by the way, but I had the strap around it when it fell. I love it and I would recommend it to anyone who's looking for a durable but yet good looking case. I also love that it hides the fact that its a tablet, don't have to worry about someone stealing it.

  • tbonefsg

    beautiful case, horrible logo. If I spent that much on the case, I sure wouldn't want a huge ugly logo that I had to look at all the time

  • will

    I have a Dodo classic (solid) for my original N7. While it looks fantastic and people regularly look at it thinking it's just a book, I have one complaint that completely ruins the value. The corner tabs are notorious for quickly wearing down to the point where it won't securely hold your tablet. And this is without taking the tablet in and out. Not even a couple months after I got mine, my N7 fell out on its own, smacking me in the face as I laid in bed. I popped it back in and continued using it for a few more months as it became looser and fell out more often. Now I just use it as a traveling case to throw people off. If you plan on using this long term without removing it, do yourself a favor and get some 3m double sided tape to really secure it.

  • kstagg

    I picked up the Portenzo BookCase for my new Nexus 7 which had a built-in-stand and was handmade of MAPLE (not cheap bamboo) in Missouri for $69. Choose from a selection of 7 case cover colors you want and 10 colors for inside cover. Choose from 1 of 9 different elastic optional band color styles. The craftsmanship is outstanding and worth every penny.

    • Simon C.

      Lol dude, did you drink the Koolaid over there?

      Theirs is plywood, not real wood, just a step up from particle board. Bamboo and real maple are not cheap, and cost about 10-20x more than plywood.

      • kstagg

        Hey - don't take my word for it:
        http://shop.portenzo.com/bookcase-for-the-new-nexus-7/
        "These handmade cases include our smooth natural Maple frame along with our own Grip-Right securing system."

        http://nexus7blog.wordpress.com/2012/11/16/review-portenzo-bookcase/
        "The wood frame your Nexus 7 will rest in is hand-sanded American Maple."

        So. Now - who's the dumbass?

        • Simon C.

          You know these are tech blogs, right? They just get the information from the ones who GAVE them the review unit.

          Check your own case. The very top layer is a different color and doesn't have the dark glue line - that's the maple. It's called a veneer.

          • kstagg

            Multiple layers of walnut. Just give it up, man. If you want bamboo (grass), that's cool. I'll use wood. I kid, I kid.

            Dodo cases are nice, they are, I just like my Portenzo All I ever said.

          • Simon C.

            So is it maple or walnut now? You know they're completely different species of wood.

            All I'm saying is get your facts straight. It's plywood.

          • kstagg

            Maple. I misspoke. Just read the freaking reviews you troll.

          • Simon C.

            Reviews just regurgitate the same misinformation.

            So far you've called me a "dumbass" and a "troll." I'm just trying to
            tell you that you have the wrong information. Educate yourself.

            It's fine if you like your case, to each his own. I'm just telling you it's plywood with one small layer of maple.

            I'm honestly not a fan of bamboo either, I just corrected you when you called bamboo cheap compared to Portenzo's use of plywood.

      • kstagg

        There are layers of maple as mentioned in the article:
        "While the maple frame does have a unique characteristic to it, I believe it has more to do with the layered design of the wood than anything else. The layered/pressed (similar to plywood) design of the maple frame creates a stronger and more stable product while somewhat resembling the pages of an actual book."

        ...

        • Simon C.

          There's no such thing as "similar to plywood." The definition of layered/pressed wood IS plywood. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plywood

          It looks like you were fed a story and believed it. You can go to any home improvement store and get a stack of this stuff for the same price of that case.

  • Manny

    I recognize that good pen have you been to moneytree

  • Nicabod

    Steampunk? The craftsmanship is heartening, but that elastomer strap, although heavy-duty, is simply makeshift. It shouts that the designers lacked imagination and awareness of better ways.

    Other than a snug but thin and rugged slipcase, there must be ways to keep a book closed.
    For instance, a very rugged but flexible strap attached to the front cover could be held against the outside of the frame by a pair of tiny NdBFe magnets, one in the strap. A pull tab would disengage them.

  • Nicabod

    Further thoughts: To answer the question in the title: Yes, indeed! Nexus 7/12 was quite fine, but inside, seems to have been designed against a deadline. N 7/13, inside, is how the designers would have done it, given time; it also takes advantage of recent better technology. N 7s are /not/ made for profit. Their retail prices are, very likely, just mfg. cost plus enough markup to attract non-greedy retail sellers. Value for money is rare and wonderful, imho.

    +=+=+

    [tbonefsg]: Agreed, a dodo is not a beauty. Better than a warthog, probably. For bird logos, give me Viewsonic; those are real birds, too.
    BUT: /Why/ a dodo? People lucky enough to have a decent education know that dodos went extinct not all that long ago. "Dead as a dodo" signifies worse than dead, after all. I don't get it -- really don't.

    Passenger pigeons were nicer looking, I'd say.

    +=+=+

    I'm likely to order a Poetic case, Amazon, green.