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Cool Yule Tools 2012

PROTECT: Cases for your smartphone or tablet

Whether style or protection, a case is just as important as the tablet/phone/e-reader you're buying

By , Network World
November 19, 2012 08:09 AM ET

Network World - These days, cases for your new smartphone, tablet or e-reader are just as important as the device itself. Whether it's to fit a specific style, taste or customization, there are hundreds of different options for dressing your tablet up.

We've scoured through a lot of those cases to present our picks of the year's best offerings, courtesy of the 2012 Cool Yule Tools holiday gift guide.

Holiday gift guide 2012

A quick guide to Network World's favorite gifts

Note: Products listed in no particular order or preference. Prices are also rounded-up estimates from either the product's website or Amazon.com. Better deals may be offered online during the holiday season.

X-doria Campfire

X-doria Campfire

$59.99

X-doria's website says "CampFire is like a custom sleeping bag for the new iPad & iPad 2." While true, it is like a warm puffy pillow that easily slides onto your iPad, that warm cozy feeling goes away quickly if you suddenly jump up and the iPad falls and the glass breaks (but I suppose that can be the case with any sleeve that goes around the iPad).

I already have a case that tilts the iPad up, so having the sleeping bag feel didn't seem like much of an improvement. When not in use, you can reverse the cushion to protect the iPad. However, the reversal took more time than I was willing to invest. At almost $60, the cost seems a bit, well, stuffed.

- Ryan Francis

Eyn phone case (iPhone 4/4S) with storage space & mirror

$29.99

For many iPhone 4/4S owners, keeping their phone thin and light is a high priority. But for others, protecting the case from drops and scratches is more important. For the latter group, we present the Eyn phone case, which not only has a harder case to protect the phone from drops and scratches, but also comes with a "secret compartment". OK, it's not-so-secret - it's a compartment in the back that you can open up, revealing a handy mirror and a clip that can hold cash, credit cards or your driver's license.

Eyn iPhone 4 case

Installing the phone into the case is quite easy - I mention this because some harder/protection cases can be a chore. The bottom of the Eyn case pops off, the iPhone easily slips in, and then you snap the bottom back on.

Opening and closing the compartment can be slightly tricky, but it's better if you have a thumbnail to do this with. In addition to storing things in the compartment, you can open the case like an upside-down V and use the backing as a kickstand for viewing movies or doing a FaceTime video chat. The unit also comes with a wristband that you can attach, giving you some extra protection in case your hand drops the phone (it reminded me of the wristband for the Nintendo Wii that stays attached to your wrist in case the remote flies off your hand). You can get the case in three colors - black, turquoise or pink, to fit a personal style or matching coordinated outfit.

The only downside is the extra bulk - this will add extra weight to the phone, so if you're like me and you carry your phone in your pocket, you're going to notice - but you'll also know that you have your phone on you as well. The extra bulk also means it won't fit into a power charging docking station correctly - but if you already charge via the cable only anyway, that's not a big deal.

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