At a glance, Portenzo’s $60 Notebook Style iPad Case is a dead ringer for the Dodocase, my previous favorite folio-style iPad case. It’s got the same delightfully analog, Moleskine-style exterior, complete with an elastic band to hold it closed. Flip open the faux-leather cover, and be prepared for gasps from people when they see that there’s an iPad inside, neatly tucked into a bamboo frame. The case’s sturdy materials make it feel like a well-made hardback book.
There are differences between the Dodocase and Portenzo cases, though. The corners are more subtly curved on the Portenzo case, though I’m not sure I’d call either approach superior. The material used on the case’s interior seems a bit rougher to me on the Portenzo case—I prefer the feel of the Dodocase.
Where Portenzo’s case takes the advantage over the Dodocase is its bamboo frame, which holds the iPad much more securely than the Dodocase’s frame does. Dodocase relies on foam stickers in the corners of the case, and those foam bits become matted-down over time; the Portenzo case uses rubber-toothed corner pieces that grip much more securely. The Portenzo’s bamboo frame is also smooth, while the Dodocase’s frame is noticeably rough.
The two cases each cost $60, but Dodocase charges an extra $5 if you want a custom interior color—Portenzo offers those same color options for free, as well as a choice of leather textures. Portenzo also offers a $60 Retro Edition that features an orange exterior; a $70 Composition version that looks like a classic composition notebook on the outside; and a $70 Wingtip style that features colored-leather accents. For an additional $10, you can add an internal stylus/pen holder to the standard or Retro versions, and $15 gets you custom embossing of your name or other text on the front cover of those same two models.
While earlier versions of the Portenzo Notebook Style Case had a “lay-flat” design that prevented using the case’s spine to place the iPad at an angle suitable for typing, the company has changed its default case design to match the Dodocase’s stiffer spine. (Portenzo says that lay-flat spines are still available by request, but I find the new, stiffer default spine to be superior.) Neither case offers a dedicated stand, although on a non-slippery surface, you can use the front cover of each to prop up your iPad for, say, movie viewing.
In the end, which case is better, the Portenzo or Dodocase? I give the edge to the Portenzo Notebook for now, entirely due to its superior frame that holds the iPad securely in place.