Provides: iPad 2 protection and audio enhancement
Minimum Requirements: iPad 2
The iPad speaker never did make a whole lot of sense. I mean, I get the lack of stereo audio on a system that’s meant to be flipped between landscape and portrait viewing (stereo doesn’t do you much good if the device is turned so that both speakers are on the right or left), but placing the tiny speaker in the back shoots the sound away from you. Cygnett’s SmartSound case for iPad 2 corrects the problem by angling the audio back towards the user.
The “smart” in SmartSound, however, reflects Apple’s Smart Cover, with which this case is compatible. An opening along one side allows you to use the SmartSound and Smart Cover simultaneously, taking advantage of the benefits of both. Oddly, Cygnett doesn’t even try to match the Smart Cover colors; the SmartSound is available only in black and a frosted clear color.
The fit is quite good thanks to the flexible TPU material that allows for simple application and removal. The case is held in place by rigid edges that lip over the bezel on the iPad, with some extra material in the left corners for additional hold. The back and sides are completely protected from scratches, save for the side that’s open for your Smart Cover magnet. The openings were slightly misaligned on my test unit, but not in a way that made the dock port, camera, etc. unusable. Everything works just fine.
The selling point, though, is the curved opening behind the iPad 2 speaker. It works kind of like cupping your hands behind your ears, except that it funnels the audio out towards you instead of pulling it in. This is surprisingly effective at enhancing the iPad 2′s audio (Cygnett claims a volume increase of up to 10 dB, doubling the perceived volume), as it’s now not shooting away from you or into your lap. Depending upon how you’re holding your iPad 2, however, it’s possible that opening will simply be shooting directly into your palm.
The SmartSound is not a logical replacement for a decent pair of headphones, and the uninspired design will likely turn some users away. At $40, it’s overpriced, too. But it does offer a great fit and solid protection. And if you frequently use your iPad 2 in settings where and extra, hassle free audio kick would be welcome, the SmartSound does what it claims.