Review: Dodocase's Hardcover for Nexus 7 looks sleek and keeps your tablet safe
Looking for an iPad case? They’re so common that we publish a weekly roundup of new models. Looking for a good case for the Nexus 7 tablet? You’re not so lucky. Despite being the best mid-sized tablet on the market right now, it hasn’t (yet) sold well enough to warrant such a plethora of case offerings. Which is a shame, because Google’s official case for the Nexus 7 is disappointing.
Dodocase’s $35 Hardcover for Nexus 7, on the other hand, is worth a look. Like Dodocase’s other protective products, the Hardcover is handmade in San Francisco using traditional bookbinding techniques. The black, bookcover-like material is complemented by a fabric interior in red, light blue, purple, or black. (You can personalize your cover with up to three hot-foil-stamped letters; the cost of this option starts at $10.)
Unlike the company’s eponymous Dodocase cases, which hold your phone or tablet in an internal wood frame, the Hardcover is, as its name implies, just the cover. Your Nexus 7 stays in the Hardcover using strong, reusable-adhesive strips. To attach the Hardcover to your tablet, you just make sure the back of the tablet is clean, peel off the three adhesive-strip covers inside the back of the case, and then gently line up the tablet with the case. (If you didn’t get the alignment right, you can gently lift the tablet off the adhesive and try again.) Assuming you got the positioning correct, you then close the cover and press firmly to secure the Nexus 7.
I was a bit skeptical of this approach, but I got the tablet straight on my second try, and after squeezing the case together, my Nexus 7 wasn’t going anywhere—it was securely attached to the case. With some firm wrangling, I was able to remove the tablet, but it definitely wouldn’t have detached on its own. I even dropped my Hardcover-encased Nexus 7 onto hard ground with no ill effect.
You can wash the adhesive strips and reuse them, although my impression is that you wouldn’t want to perform this remove/wash/reuse cycle too many times—this is really a put-it-in-and-leave-it case. (The company does say, however, that if your adhesive strips wear out, Dodocase will send you replacements.)
At just 4 ounces, the Hardcover doesn’t add much weight to your tablet, though it does add a bit of bulk: With a Nexus 7 inside, the Hardcover is 7.8 inches tall, 4.9 inches wide, and 0.6 inches thick, compared to 7.7 inches wide, 4.7 inches wide, and 0.4 inches thick for a bare Nexus 7. During my testing, I mainly noticed the added thickness, but I felt the Hardcover’s protection and book-like feel were worth it.
When using the tablet, you can hold the Hardcover open wide, book-like, but I suspect most people will fold the front cover around the back. In this position, the left-hand side is a bit thick, thanks to the cover’s spine, though the right-hand side is comfortable to hold.
The back cover hosts a Moleskine-notebook-like elastic strap that secures the front cover when the case is closed. This strap also serves another useful purpose: If you fold the front cover behind the tablet, you can position the Hardcover like an A-frame to prop up the tablet for viewing video or photos. On slicker surfaces, you can pull the strap under the edge of the front cover to keep the front cover from sliding away and the “stand” from falling down. (A tiny plastic clip is included that makes this configuration more secure.)
Unlike Google’s official case for the Nexus 7, the Hardcover supports the tablet’s iPad-like magnetic sleep/wake feature: Close the Hardcover, and your Nexus 7 goes to sleep; open the cover, and the tablet wakes.
I have only two complaints about the Hardcover. The first is that when holding your tablet in landscape orientation with both hands (for example, when gaming or watching video), if the case’s spine is on the bottom, the sharp corners of the folded-back spine press into your palms. When the spine is on top, this isn’t an issue. (Unfortunately, some landscape-orientation Android apps don’t support rotation and always use the spine edge as the bottom.) The second is that because the sides of the Nexus 7 are beveled, it’s a bit difficult to press the tablet’s power and volume buttons, which are located along the right-hand edge. The buttons are usable, but if you have thick fingers, it takes some finesse.
If you’re the type of person who uses a case only for safe transport and who prefers to use the tablet bare, the Hardcover isn’t for you. But if you’re OK with an always-on case, and you like the idea of a book-like experience, the Hardcover is well made, attractive, and protective without adding a lot of bulk. It’s the nicest case I’ve yet seen for Google’s tablet.