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Aug 27 2012

Portenzo Nexus 7 Case Review

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I have one of those brutal trips that involves a flight to Europe, for a two city jaunt over a weekend, coming up. Leave on a Thursday, arrive in Amsterdam on a Friday, spend the day at a trade show. Leave on Saturday for London, spend Sunday at a trade show, fly home on Monday. Sort of travel suicide with a really nice cultural background.

Yeah, I am not the smartest guy in the world. I am choosing to take it as a challenge to see just how lightly I can travel. One bag, no computer and as little weight as possible while still looking fairly businesslike. Well, as much as I am capable of appearing businesslike anyway!

This trip was the rather flimsy excuse I used to pick up a Google Nexus 7. I would like to carry it in lieu of even an iPad because every ounce is precious. Well, I didn’t need much justification and a full review is upcoming on that little piece.

It did leave me with the conundrum of how to protect the Nexus 7 during my 72 hours of pain. While the market for accessories for other Android tablets has been sparse, it looks like Google’s direct attention to this tablet may generate more manufacturing interest…but that is still a bit in the future.

Luckily the crew at Portenzo had a great option for me: their Book Case for the Nexus 7. I reviewed one of their iPad cases earlier this year so I was excited to see what they had worked up for the Nexus 7.

The irony of it being dolled up like a composition book was very appealing to me, so I jumped at the classic black and white mottled wrapping when I realized it was an option. I was SORELY tempted to write my name on the front!

Classic binding arts are applied to wrapping a tablet up to look like a book and the effect is quite stunning. As you can see in this detail shot of the corner, layers of wood are stacked up to give the cradle that the Nexus sits in the look of pages stacked together. The wood is sanded down to a soft and supple finish that is a pleasure to see and touch.

The careful folds and tucks are impeccably crafted to wrap your tablet in a truly classy looking book case. This is the kind of craftsmanship that makes me smile about something being Made in America!

The tablet is held in its cradle with silicon inserts at each carefully rounded corner of the case. If you are worried about the Nexus slipping out of the case, two things should greatly comfort you. First, the case actually comes with directions on how to get the tablet OUT of the book case, giving you a pretty good hint that it locks in very solidly. Secondly, I shook the thing like a complete idiot trying to get it to dislodge and was completely unsuccessful. It is very secure in there!

The case has cutouts for the power switch and volume rocker as well as a cutout along the bottom to allow access to the micro USB and headphone ports.

The book case slightly degrades the quality of the microphone making it a little bit more nasal sounding, but it actually helps the quality of the speaker with a little bit of additional output. Unless you are doing a lot of voice recording this seems to be a pretty reasonable trade off to me.

The Nexus 7 actually does feature magnetic on and off switching, so I was very glad I chose the magnetic closure on the Book Case. It works perfectly, switching the tablet on and off and I cannot remember the last time I actually reached for the power switch on it.

I also opted for the Intellistand option on the case. This clever little add-on puts a sort of joint on the back cover so that you can open the book in landscape orientation and use it as a stand. It falls naturally into one of two positions for media viewing or using the tablet with a keyboard. Magnets in the book binding lock the back piece closed and hold the case solidly in those open positions.

Angle 1

Angle 2

I was looking for a really small and light computing option for this trip. I think I have found my solution! Take a look at the combination of the Verbatim bluetooth keyboard and the Nexus Book case in the picture below.

Or if you prefer, pair it with a stylus and go semi-old school!

Conclusions:

Portenzo makes a beautifully elegant case that adds very little bulk to the Nexus 7 but adds a ton of class. I found myself running my hands over it, admiring the quality of the stitching and the smoothness of the wood in a way that was just a little bit embarrassing!

It adds just the right amount of flexibility and protection to pair perfectly with the tablet and protect it from the rigors of day-to-day wear.

Do yourself a favor if you made the leap on the Nexus 7, don’t even look at one of the cheap cases that will be hitting the market over the next couple of months. A Portenzo Book case will make you smile everytime you use your Nexus!

Portenzo Nexus 7 Book Case $39.95 to $74.95 depending on options ($59.95 as reviewed)

Contact form is on their FAQ page

4 comments

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  1. Frank II

    This is the setup I was thinking of using or my travels: the Nexus 7 and the Verbatim keyboard. I don’t own the Nexus yet and was wondering how well it synched with the keyboard. Since you wrote about it, I’m guessing it works fine.

    I can’t decide if I should get the Nexus 7 or wait for the Ipad mini.

    Have you found a good word processing program for the Nexus that’s compatible with MS Word?

  2. Jeff Mac

    Frank,

    I have used Documents to Go for a long time and it is pretty capable for word, excel and power point applications. The full version with editing is $15 but you can actually pay for it with the $25 credit you get when you buy the Nexus 7.
    I would be happy to send you a doc created in it there are certain things you want to check.

    You can do a ton with Google docs but you are then dependent on having an internet connection…

    THe Verbatim keyboard works with the Nexus, but I had a couple of little quibbles with the way it worked with the HTC that bothered me…and I have not rechecked those yet. I will check that tonight and let you know for sure.

  3. Frank II

    Thanks. I remember using Docs to Go with my old Palm Pilot.

    I usually use Evernote to store my docs so I guess I could use any “free” word processor, copy and paste to Evernote, and then retrieve it in Word.

    I just got back from the store checking out the Nexus 7. Except for the lack of flash, HDMI output and SD card slot, I can’t see much else wrong with it. I didn’t even mind the on screen keyboard in landscape mode. I found it more responsive than the Ipad.

    I had heard the Verbatim was finicky with some Android devices so I’m hoping you still have luck with the Nexus 7.

  4. Jeff Mac

    Frank, the main weird issue I had with the HTC View was that the arrow keys did not rotate when the screen shifted from landscape to portrait. It worked fine in portrait but was 90 degrees offset in landscape.

    THe keyboard arrows work fine on the nexus 7 but the menu button does nothing and the keyboard button (which hides and exposes the onscreen keyboard on an iOS device) does nothing. Other than that the Verbatim works nicely with the Nexus.

  1. Portenzo HardBack for Nexus 7 - Restless Tech » Restless Tech

    […] protection for your precious new tablet I still HIGHLY recommend their traditional Book Case which I reviewed here!PortenzoContact form is on their FAQ pageLike it? Share […]

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