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Wooden iPad 2 cover outsmarts Apple's Smart Cover (tuaw.com)
385 points by shawndumas on Mar 24, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 79 comments

Really? A wooden cover for the iPad 2... with magnets. That's what makes the top of HN?

I can see this belonging on Engadget but what's the value here?

Don't get me wrong: I have an iPad 2. I love my iPad (1 & 2). I just don't see how a wooden cover for it is HN-worthy.

A few reasons (as far as I'm concerned)

1. Startups could learn a lot about presentation from this guy. I don't know about anyone else but I was struck by the video's simple, matter of fact style. No flash or funny animations. Just a smart guy showing what his company had done (and then thanking me for my time)

2. People deify Apple too much. Apple's great but you can compete with them if you put some effort into it. Sure most people won't want a wooden iPad cover but some will and it very well may be enough to make a profit off of.

3. Some people might want a wooden iPad cover and this lets them know about it (isn't that the same thing all those "Tell HN" threads do)

For a community centered around startups I think those insights are valuable which is why I up-voted it.

> No flash or funny animations. Just a smart guy showing what his company had done

Well... the product does come from Holland. Try watching some Finish videos if you want more of that. People in both of those countries are pretty straightforward in life (based both on personal experience and anecdotes, YMMV).

Actually, being from Denmark, this is one thing that annoys me about a lot of Americen advertising. It's awfully obnoxious and in-your-face.

Not a fan of Billy Mays, I take it.

Yeah, being from Holland I never understand why the presentation of stuff from other countries is so over the top, even for simple things. But it seems to sell though, so probably a lot of people like it. I personally like a paragraph (or less) saying what it does + 1 or 2 good pics. No videos please.

Startups can learn something from almost any webpage on the internet. HN at this point of time has more mac fans than cultofmac.

Agreed. It's not about it being an Apple-related gadget as much as it's a classic case of entrepreneurship. Rapid/agile. Heck I wouldn't be surprised if they've only built a few units so far for prototype testing, and they won't even bother to ramp up production until they start getting real orders in. Lean manufacturing, I guess.

It's good design, and good design is a recurring theme on Hacker News.

I think people are still recoiling from the shock of the brilliance that out-shines the sun that is the Smart Cover™ (© Apple) and what super-awesome things it means for future generations (better than flying cars, clearly, now that we have Smart Covers™. Maybe bread that toasts itself! Smart Bread™!). The world is forever changed; I see the light; All bow before Steve Jobs!

</ partial sarcasm>

Partial, because I do think it's likely people are still recovering from "why didn't I think of that"-itis (or maybe "why didn't someone make this sooner"-itis). Apple just one-upped the entire world of things-that-cover-things, possibly by a greater degree than Tupperware that burps so you know it's keeping things fresh. It takes a while to re-define your place in the world when something like this first comes into existence - until then, everything is awesome: flowers smell more flowery, covers cover more completely, and computers compute like never before.

I'm still unconvinced about the smart cover. The magnets are a neat hack, but I've found that with my various (metal backed) i-Products that if they are out of a full body jacket their metal cases scratch, scuff and loose their shininess very quickly.

Additionally a 'full metal jacket' cough provides some protection from getting wet and that seems to be #1 priority in Apple's product doco that you should never ever do.

I'm just referring to the cover's shinyness - it turns the ipad on and off, it has magnets, and it attaches without any attachment points cluttering its body. Simple, but very much something that nobody has done with tablets before.

It's just awesome. That's why.

That's a useful, precise criterion if I ever saw one!

I should put this moment in a diary or something. The moment my 'cool. awesome!' response was entirely dampened by my 'wow. fetishization much?' response.

I don't even own a lawn yet :[

Really? A wooden cover for the iPad 2..

yes. it's much more ingenious than iPad 2 if you think about it.

In fact this thing made me consider for a second that maybe I should get an iPad.

If that's a solid sheet of microfiber on the inside, then I'm sold. The thing that irritates me most about the Smart Cover is that it leaves streaks on the glass where the indentations are.

can't be solid. if it was tight when rolled up it would be loose when flat.

Maybe making it elastic-y would be enough extra length to work in both states?

A lot of really negative and unnecessary comments on this blog. did the TechCrunch trolls ousted by their new FB commenting plugin find a new home?

No kidding. I haven't seen this many useless comments since people were spamming HN with blog posts about Ruby.

Whats amazing about Apple is that even a cover for one of its products makes it to the top of HN.

Update: If it wasn't obvious, I was being sarcastic and sad.

This isn't about Apple. It's about an innovative 'hack' using organic materials to beautify and humanize a technology device. At least, that's how I see this case.

Of course its about Apple. Think about it, would it have made it to the top of HN if it were a cover for Galaxy tab, or something else for that matter.

Are you suggesting that there are awesome innovations inspired by the Galaxy tab out there being ignored by HN? Post some!

The key in the title is that it says it "outsmarts Apple's Smart Cover". The Smart Cover was incredibly well-designed yet incredibly simple.

Anything capable of giving it a run for its money should be equally as interesting (at least from a design stand-point).

How exactly does this cover outsmart Apple's? I can't fold it in half. I can't fold the whole thing over save one quarter, so that the rear camera lens is exposed.

It's nifty, it's another option, but is it better? Better for what? I'd ask, and I'm sure it's more exclusive but from an everyday use perspective, I just don't see it.

If it had been a cover for a Galaxy Tab, it would be hailed as an innovative idea from a startup that has found a great niche.

Instead, it's just an iteration on Apple's design, from a boutique that specializes in helping you further flaunt your gadgets as status symbols.


Based on the downvote, somebody seems to have taken one of the above sentences seriously. I guess I fail at subtle mockery.

Credit should be given where credit is due. Apple's Smart Cover was an innovation. Miniot's cover is less of an innovation, but no less smart from a business sense, and it would have been impossible for them to make this product for any other tablet, because it's too soon for Samsung et al to have added magnets to their tablets. I think it's also safe to say that if Apple hadn't already done it, Samsung would never bother to make an expensive change to their tablet just to facilitate a clever case.

Because Apple invented Magnets. And Phones. And MP3 Players.

Did you see this: https://www.goincase.com/products/detail/convertible-magazin...

What are you getting at with that link? That Apple didn't come up with the idea of a 4-segment folding cover? I certainly wasn't implying that - I was speaking out against hyperbolic praise or bashing of products based on pro-/anti-Apple biases.

If you took the case you linked to and added magnets so it could function like Apple's Smart cover, it would be quite a bit bulkier. I think it's fair to say that Apple's integrating the magnets in to the tablet is a more significant improvement than Miniot's is over Apple's.

By trying to lump me in with the people/strawmen who say that Apple invented smartphones or MP3 players, you do no credit to yourself and you make it look like you're trying to distract from my assertion that it does matter somewhat who the tablet manufacturer is because no other tablet maker would put the magnets inside their tablet.

I would also like some evidence that HN would ignore an equally well-designed 3rd-party accessory for a Galaxy Tab.

How many HN users have Galaxy Tabs, and how many have iPads?

I bet a lot more have iPads, which means that this article is relevant to them.


Still trying to work out how this wooden iPad cover outsmarts Apple's own cover (as promised in the title). Can anyone help me out?

It's similar, but the customer pays more for this one instead.

I'm not quite sure that's entirely true, as is pointed out in the article.

In the NL Apple Store, polyurethane Smart Covers costs €39 each while a leather one costs €69 (in Apple's eyes €1 = $1).

This wooden cover costs €50.

I don't think it's fair to compare wood to polyurethane, but feel free to do so in order to make your argument stand.

No you are right, in the US store, the leather case is ~$70 and this wooden one is ~$70 (not counting shipping or anything).

Ugh, when did cases get so ridiculously expensive? These are really rather exorbitant prices IMHO. For what these things are, I'd maybe part with...$12-15 for the polyurethane one and $20-25 for a leather?

At $40 or $70 (respectively), I'd need a case to protect my case.

Only thing they didn't show was whether the hinge snaps on/off as easily as the Smart Cover.

the part around the 41 second mark where he flips open the cover concerns me a little, notice him placing his left hand on the hinge area for support. i wonder if maybe it comes off too easily.

Or it is a completely natural gesture when rolling up the cover in a certain position to help create the stand ...

From the looks of things it didn't use one? (Or at least I managed to completely miss it.)

There's no hinge. He turns the iPad completely around at about the 0:25 mark. That's a pretty big aesthetic difference.

One thing's for certain: leave that thing on the kitchen while food's being prepared and your iPad will soon smell of chopped onions and garlic.

Wow. I never really wanted an iPad until I saw this sexy little cover. Hmmm... I may have to go stand in line.

Did Apple patent their cover design?

Do watch the video. Great design!

This is getting ridiculous. Why do we up vote something that is a given? HN, stop it! You only up vote things that make you learn something. Why on earth did pohl just get 16 points for nothing.

We need to stop with the promoting of things like "thank you" or "good job"

Im sorry, I just went on a little rant. The cover is awesome, but did I just learn anything from pohl? I don't care to see this comment over more informative comments below.

Thank you for mentioning this.

(Couldn't resist a little joke at your expense, sorry about that. I actually appreciated the parent comment -- most of the time I never play videos, because they take me out of my normal flow. But due to his comment, I actually watched this one, and am now impressed.)

No, it's useful. It means that with N upvotes, N people agree with the comment.

That gives a great indicator as to whether or not the video is worth my time. The comment could have easily said that the video is a waste of time, which would also be helpful. People won't upvote it if they disagree.

An upvote doesn't necessarily mean that you agree with the comment. They are supposed to mean that the comment is worthwhile or adds something to the discussion. IMO, the ggp comment doesn't.

They mean whatever the upvoter wants them to mean: agreement, approval, or a meant-to-click-downvote instead. In practical use, people often do upvote because they agree.

So I'm a newbie here, my account is less than a year old, god knows I've trolled and flamed my share, etc. But when I first joined, I saw the guideline/notion that upvotes should indicate contribution to discussion rather than agreement and was impressed. I'd be sad if this position was abandoned. Upvoting for contribution to discussion promotes good discussion. Upvoting for agreement promotes hivemind, of whichever variety.

In 2009, I wrote a little parody of the Zen of Python that includes a bit about what I felt upvotes were/should be used for: http://marcuscavanaugh.com/zen-of-hn/ -- I think that regardless of what guidelines were created initially, people do upvote as agreement, whether we like it or not.

I like upvotes as an expression of agreement because it gives an indication of the truthiness of the comment (wisdom of the crowd). If someone says something in a field I'm not familiar with, and I don't know if they're right or not, I know that the following will occur:

- If they're right, people will upvote.

- If they're wrong, people will either downvote or reply stating why they're wrong.

And since I don't think any of us want comments like "I Agree", upvotes are our only option for providing a vote of confidence in a comment.

But you're only going to up vote things that you agree with that also add to the conversation. Of course people up vote things they agree with, but in the case of something like the comment that started this all off, did it really add much to the conversation? I didn't think so, but it wasn't frivolous enough for me to down vote it. You're free to disagree and up vote all you want.

As a side note: truthiness, as defined by Colbert [1] isn't something that a crowd can tell you. It's something that only your gut can tell you. And my gut says that your comment wants a burrito.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truthiness

The only situation where I'll upvote or downvote based on "agreement" or "disagreement" is statements of fact--and even then, inane statements of fact that don't contribute to the discussion, I don't upvote.

At least in this case, people can upvote his comment rather than posting the same comment themselves. It's a way of contributing, "I feel the same way," without cluttering up the threads with a million "me too" posts.

> They are supposed to mean...


This is a fairly longstanding consensus here. It comes up every now and again though, and my position isn't the only one. Some believe up votes can mean agreement, but that obviously this has a limit. Since a down vote definitely doesn't mean disagreement, it only follows that the opposite shouldn't mean agreement. That would only serve to dilute the conversation. Like I said though, this is just a rough consensus.

Here is a previous HN discussion on comments [1].

And I'll save you the trouble of reading through to an even earlier discussion[2] where PG weighed in to say "I think it's ok to use the up and down arrows to express agreement." But this was on a different topic regarding troll-like behavior, so it's not entirely clear what his thoughts are.

But a person is going to use their up votes to mean whatever they want them to mean. If you want to up vote in agreement, go ahead, no one is going to stop you. I only up vote things I agree with if I think it adds to the conversation. So while I thought the linked video was impressive and a great way to see the product, I'm not going to up vote a comment that doesn't add much. You are free to disagree.

[1] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=214398

[2] http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=117171

But shouldn't the votes on the link itself already be enough to decide that?

I don’t think many people on HN like watching videos. Linking only to videos is often criticized. My assumption would always be that most people on HN do not watch videos if it doesn’t seem obvious what additional information the video could provide (like in this case).

Pohl’s comment makes perfect sense in that context. My assumption would be – and this might also be pohl’s assumption – that the video would simply not be watched if nobody says that the video is truly worth watching.

Yes, that was my motivation.

What's with this hostility on HN lately? Everyone has a choice to upvote or not and some people use upvotes as a way to identify with a response. I got the same vibes in the Instagram resume post yesterday. You are not protecting the quality of a community by barking at every behavior you don't approve of. This arrogance has been a turnoff lately. Maybe it's just me or I only come across the pessimistic comments.

Why on earth did pohl just get 16 points for nothing

Whoa there, cowboy.

I posted that so that those who clicked-through to the article but impatiently left would stay for the demonstration.

Only lever-pushing, pellet-munching hamsters care about the points.

P.S. I modded you up.

Its not the points I care about. Its the fact that it was the top rated item. I would rather have something at the top I can take away from.

My one line of text pales next to the off-topic meta rant thread you spawned though, doesn't it. Had you been motivated by the noise and not the points you wouldn't have done that. Or shouldn't have, at least. (+1 from me again)

good point, but comments that hi-jack a thread should be down voted :)

I have to say, I agree. Just think about all those starving kids in Ethopia with no upvotes and here we are on HN sitting in our comfortable Aeron chairs just pissing our upvotes away.

Proof positive we are in the karma bubble here!!

do you think you have any credibility to teach people here what to vote for? With 1.57 avg?

What does his average have to do with it? spoiledtechie has been around much longer than you or I, and was only expressing his opinion about the usefulness of the top comment.

Now I happen to disagree with him and may down-vote the comment because I think meta-discussions about the quality of HN are much more annoying than any decline in quality that may or may not exist, but that has nothing to do with his credibility, and neither does his karma, comment average, or much of anything else.

>What does his average have to do with it?....neither does his karma, comment average, ...

in his post spoiledtechie clearly connected upvotes/points and informativeness. If we accept that connection, having 1.57 average, he can't credibly make statements about informativeness.

Of course he can. This is the old point about reviewers not having to be creators again.

Simple, Great, presentation

That's easily the best thing about the iPad.

What's cool about AAPL is that it inspires such innovative designs. Beautiful.

Someone have drunk too much Kool-Aid ...

What's so uncool about AAPL is the closed platform, that killed so many innovations.

Are you saying that Apple doesn't inspire design? Or are you saying "Yes, they inspire great design, but here's this other completely unrelated gripe I have, so I'm going to grind my axe every time Apple is mentioned with any kind of positive tone?"

I'm not slamming you on this, if you could show a connection between the two things, that would be very interesting. Sticking to software and not to hardware, I might say that Microsoft and the PC manufacturers allow anybody to make anything, so there are nice PC-Windows things but they are drowned in a sea of dreck. But Apple retain a tight fist over software and filter out the crap. It might appear that Apple inspires great software, but that's only because the proportion of nice stuff to dreck is higher when someone's filtering the dreck out. In reality there might be 2x or even 10x as much nice stuff in total written for Windows, it's just drowned by 100x as much dreck.

Now, I am not saying that, it's a strawman put up as an example of drawing a connection between their closed platform policies and great design by third parties. Perhaps you can draw a better connection? I actually sympathize with you... I have written several blog posts criticizing Apple's policies. I just don't see the connection here and need some help connecting the dots.

I do like apple products but really what innovation did they kill?

Do you know how unthinkable an app store model was 5 years ago? Sure there are innovative things happening on android but would it even exist without iPhone?

>>I do like apple products but really what innovation did they kill?

All kind of products that would've competed with Apple bundled apps, or could've been seen as illegal in some state, or had some erotic content ...

>>Do you know how unthinkable an app store model was 5 years ago?

Microsoft had a store 5 years ago. What does it have to do with Apple closing their platforms, to make higher profits, while stopping a lot of innovation?

>>Sure there are innovative things happening on android but would it even exist without iPhone?

Symbian, Windows CE and many more existed before the iPhone. As the price of hardware falls and mobile devices become more powerful/useful more and more users are getting smartphones. Android would've made perfect sense, w/o iPhone.

Ok I must admit I am by no means an AAPL fanboy. Quite the contrary actually. I hate how Jobs and company likes to get its users drunk with the Kool-Aid. But a credit should be given where it's due. Have you seen something as innovative and clever with a PC? Microsoft brought out first commercial tablet. Did that inspire anybody to do something similar?

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