The $60 iCase mini from Powis is a book-style case, available in a slew of patterns: plaid prints, checkerboard prints, pseudo-animal skins, vintage book covers, and more. You can even customize the cover with an image of your own, and the inside of the case can optionally be inscribed in silver or gold foil. Powis sent me two cases to check out: the blue plaid model, and a delightfully amusing black leather version, inscribed "Holy Bible" on the front with gold foil.
While the Holy Bible version is leather, most of the iCase mini cases are actually made from what Powis calls "premium durable book cloth and finished with a glossy laminate." The covers basically feel like a typical textbook.
The iCase mini weighs a bit less than half a pound. It measures 8.13 inches tall, 5.75 inches wide, and 0.75 inches deep, so it does add a small--but noticeable--degree of thickness to the iPad mini.
The front of the iCase mini affixes to the iPad's right edge thanks to the magnets in each corner, which also trigger the iPad mini's magnetic Sleep/Wake feature when you open the cover.
The iPad mini snaps into the iCase mini with minimal effort; the case uses long grips on the two sides, and smaller ones at the top and bottom. These grips leave most of the iPad mini's edges exposed, and the headphone jack, microphone, volume controls, side switch, Lightning port, speakers, and rear camera are all accessible,even while the case is completely closed. My iPad mini seemed snugly secure.
With the case open and folded back over itself (which exposes the screen), two additional elements of the case become visible: The first is a slim elastic strap that provides a more secure grip as you hold the encased iPad in your left hand. The second is a hideaway kickstand which slides out from underneath the iPad itself. That kickstand is used to prop the iCase mini up in one of three positions.
Pull the kickstand out completely with the case folded behind the iPad in landscape mode, and position the stand at a straight 90-degree angle down, and you can prop up your tablet at an impressively steep angle for typing--about 45 degrees off horizontal. The stand proved surprisingly sturdy, even with forceful typing.
The iCase mini offers another position for typing, again folded over in landscape orientation, but this time without the kickstand. That position yields about a 30-degree incline. Finally, you can stand the iPad mini up in portrait orientation by placing the open edges of the cover on a flat surface. I find that it takes me a few tries to find an angle at which the case will remain sturdily standing unless there's something behind the case for it to lean on a bit, but I could reliably get the iCase mini to stand up at about 15 degrees off vertical.
The iCase mini is, of all things, fun. All of the styles Powis offers exude personality, and the customization option is an added bonus. The case feels well-made, holds the iPad securely, and offers an extra level of protection from casual drops. It props the iPad mini at the angles I'm after, and it looks good while doing so.