Vaja makes some of the most gorgeous leather goods you can find, and their cases for electronics are simply unparalleled.  Today, I’m reviewing the Vaja Ivolution Top SP case for the iPad ($170 + shipping), but later in the review, I’ll mention several other iPad cases Vaja offers.

Vaja cases are handcrafted in Argentina from full-grain cowhide.  Depending on which case you order, the handicraft process can take as long as 35 days. I ordered my case on April 8 and received it on May 12, which is exactly 35 days including shipping.

When you open the plain, black box the case comes in, you will find a little Vaja brochure and your case wrapped in tissue paper.  I’ve received Vaja cases before, and the packaging used to be much more impressive. I realize that it’s just packaging, but I was a little disappointed that the case didn’t come in something with a little more panache.

That said, the case itself is no disappointment.  It exudes quality from top to bottom. Made of fine Argentinian full-grain leather, the Ivolution Top SP case provides a sturdy protective shell around the iPad. The case is actually comprised of two separate pieces: A back and front cover.

The back cover protects the entire rear surface of the iPad, but leaves all the buttons and dock connector accessible.

The front cover, which is nicely padded, snaps on to protect your screen when you’re carrying your iPad around or when you have it in a briefcase or backpack.  

When you want to use the iPad, you simply remove the front cover and pop it onto the back cover–it snaps on quite easily.

When you have both the front and back covers on the iPad, the power, volume, and screen lock buttons are accessible as is the earphone jack.   However, the front cover does block the dock connector and one of the three speaker windows.

This means that, with the front cover on, you cannot charge the iPad.  Perhaps one advantage is that the cover protects the dock connector from dirt and debris, but I would prefer having access to the dock with the front cover on.

The Vaja case is obviously well made.  The leather is soft and gorgeous, adorned by two fine details:  the Vaja logo on the front cover:And a silver strip on the back cover situated just underneath the volume button.  The name “Vaja” is engraved on it. These are elegant touches to a case with such smooth and lovely lines.

Most Vaja cases are customizable, and the Ivolution Top SP is no exception. You choose the primary color for the case and the color for the stripe and the inside cover.  I chose dark blue with provincial blue accents for my case.

There are numerous color combinations, but Vaja warns you that lighter leathers will show wear more quickly. You can also personalize your case with words or graphics that appear on the back cover, but text is $10.00 extra and graphics are $30.00 extra. Shipping is via FedEx and is in addition to the price of the case.

What’s Macgasmic: If you’re willing to pay for a top notch iPad case, then Vaja should definitely be on your list. This is a case that will probably outlast your iPad—it really is that well made. The leather is simply beautiful, and the case provides sophisticated protection. I wanted a case primarily because the iPad is so slippery and I am a klutz. My fear of dropping My Precious motivated me to research cases, and I settled on the Vaja Ivolution Top SP. With the case on, my iPad is much easier to hold, and the cover offers padded protection for my screen. Is it worth the almost $200 I paid for it? Well… it’s hard to saycan one put a price on beauty? (Yes, I’m trying to assuage my guilt a bit here). The Vaja is made of the best leather and is well-constructed. It sports beautiful silver accoutrements, and definitely sets off the iPad spectacularly. This is no utilitarian case; it’s more like a designer outfit.

What’s Not: Obviously Vaja cases are really, really expensive. Few people will want to pay this much for a case — especially after shelling out all that money to buy an iPad. There are less expensive alternatives (see Macgasm’s roundup of iPad cases here), if you want to find something more economical. Nevertheless, while Vaja cases are expensive, they are top quality. You get what you pay for.

One thing you must keep in mind if you order a Vaja case: there’s no turning back. Once you click the final order button, you are pretty much locked in. They charge your credit card immediately, and if you want to cancel or change an order you have exactly 24 hours to do so. After that, nothing–I mean nothing–can be done to change an order. They make this clear on their website, but you need to know they truly mean it. You cannot return or exchange any case you order from Vaja, and since you’re going to pay a lot of money, you’d better be certain about your selection.

Other Vaja Cases

Vaja offers an extensive line of cases for the iPad in addition to the Ivolution Top SP–some are less expensive and some more expensive. Here’s a rundown of what they offer right now.

Two cases come only in black: the Limited Edition ($150), which is designed just like the Ivolution (but without a stripe); and the Vaja Messenger Bag ($280), which sports lime green trim and has pockets.

If money really is no object, then you might like the Ivolution Top Crystal which comes in a variety of colors and is adorned with Swarovski Crystals ($350).

The Ivolution Top comes in other flavors, including “Stripes” ($220), “Top GT” ($190), and the plain “Top” ($150).  All of these are customizable.

If you want a back cover for your iPad but prefer to “go topless” as it were, you can get the Ivolution Grip Case ($100).

The Matelasse is a variation on the Ivolution case that features a quilted pattern cover in various colors ($220).

The Leather Agenda ($200) is the newest model, and, boy, do I wish I had waited for this one (buyer’s remorse).  This case opens like a book (so the cover remains attached), and it has two integrated stands so that you can set your iPad up in landscape mode for watching videos or for typing.

The Retro Slim Jacket is a slip cover case.  You can get it with a snap closure ($120) or without ($110).  It is customizable or you can purchase it in black with lime green accents.

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