REVIEW – iPads are great devices, and the Apple Pencil really adds functionality for many, but carrying both items around can be tough. STM (Smarter Than Most), the venerable bag and case maker, has come up with a new option to address both issues: the STM DUX series. This is a mil-spec one piece case that includes a holder for an Apple Pencil or Logitech Crayon. I was sent one in Red for my iPad Pro 10.5 and have been using it for a good bit now. Let’s see how well the case protects from drops and bumps, and how much more I am using the pencil.
What is it?
The STM DUX Plus Duo is a soft, yet tough, cushioned case, form-fitted to the iPad with an attached cover/stand and integrated holder for your stylus of choice. The back is made from a clear material, so the asset tag or your personal iPad stickers show during use.
What’s in the box?
Just the case.
Design and features
The case is made of two parts: a rugged, protective base in grey, and a thinner, yet protective cover piece in a contrasting color that latches over the iPad with magnets.
The DUX case itself is very pliable but really grips the iPad. It is very easy to insert and remove the iPad and the Pencil from the case. There is a small place to store the Original Pencil’s cap while it’s charging/pairing as well – a nice, thoughtful gesture. (See photo below)
The cover nestles down into the outer shell of the case so that it doesn’t catch on anything in your bag or let in keys or anything between the screen and the cover. Magnets in the cover are aligned to turn off the screen when the cover closes if you have that setting enabled.
While the cover is a different piece from the outer shell, they are permanently joined, but the cover does fold back when you’re using your iPad. You can attach the cover to the magnets on the back with it folded back and set your iPad up at a 62º angle for watching video or Zoom calls, but (and you should know how much I hate this) part of the inside of the cover is then placed on the table. Given that this is usually used for typing while out and about (back when we could go out and about), this is an accident (or at least a gross, messy screen) waiting to happen.
The back of the case is mostly a clear hard plastic that shows maybe 80% of the rear of the iPad. If you’re using this with a school or business iPad that has an attached asset tag, it would be very easy to place the sticker so that it could be scanned/read through this clear display. In my case, my stickers show through, rather than being covered by the case. It’s a good way to personalize your iPad and let your interests or creativity shine through! Also, if you have family or business folks with the same device, stickers can help tell yours from someone else’s without having to open it and try a passcode.
The cover feels great when carrying it around, and adds very little size, at least in my perception. I really like the flush-fitting cover. I tend to carry my devices out to my front porch, and things blow under the cover if it’s not tight enough.
What I like
- The clear rear cover allows visual assess to the back of the iPad
- Fully protected Pencil slot holds stylus for ready use
- Cover fits snuggly into the front of case
What I’d change
- Design of case makes the interior of cover part of the base
- The cover doesn’t lay flat when opened for reading/writing
While I really like the overall materials, the design with the inside of the screen cover has always gone against my sensibilities. Even with covers that don’t place the screen side down, there is a build-up of finger grease, food, and drink splashes that get on the cover. Starting out expecting that surface to always be placed on the table/desk is just asking for trouble, IMHO.
I do like having the Pencil handy, rather than having to fetch it from elsewhere in my bag. I’ve started using Nebo a bit more, and have done way more mind maps than I have ever done in my life since having it handy.