Poetic Hardback for iPad Mini
I ordered this case for $5 on amazon (+$8 shipping) and figured it was worth recommending. I first tried a Griffin Folio case but didn't like that the material lining the screen bezel was actually covering the outer edges of my screen. The bezel on the ipad mini is just too thin on the sides to use a case like that IMO, but I have noticed a lot of other cases that have the same problem. This Poetic case only holds the ipad in a few points around the edge, and doesn't get in the way of the screen at all.
The case fits the ipad perfectly, and it feels very secure with the side clasp closed as well. Even with the case open, the ipad is held in very well, won't ever fall out of the grip of the little claws around the edge. Camera cut-out is perfect and volume/mute/power buttons are easily accessible and the speakers are not covered at all, keeping the audio intact nicely (some other cases have material with holes in it over the speaker, makes speakers sound different). This case has a carbon fiber-like finish (which I really like), but I believe there was another option for a black leather finish as well. In the photos, it looks really shiny, but the carbon fiber actually has more of a matte finish. The case offers moderate drop protection (all that I need) by covering the corners, front, and back. If you drop the ipad, it is not likely to take any of the impact on the ipad itself, and provide a little shock resistance. If you are accident-prone or use your ipad in the rain, you may want to stick with an otter box.
Another thing that I am very pleased with is the auto wake/sleep screen cover feature. I actually didn't like my apple smartcover because when I carried the ipad around, the cover would move a little, making the screen wake and sleep at times you didn't intend it to happen. The poetic case does much better than the apple cover in this respect. It may have something to do with the case being securely clasped shut or maybe larger magnets were used, but the poetic case does not suffer from this problem. It only shuts off when you clasp the case shut, and ONLY turns back on when you pop it open.
One thing that sold me on this case was the presence of a stylus holder. I use a stylus all day, every day for taking handwritten notes, so I really wanted to find a case that would also hold a stylus. The position of the stylus holder on this case really makes it useless in my opinion. The stylus I use (bamboo) is about 5 inches long, and if you put this stylus into the holder on this case, the stylus is in the way of the clasp, and doesn't sit flush on the edge of the ipad, but instead at an angle...... fail. I will keep carrying my stylus in my pocket for now.
I'm not sure how long it will be on sale, but I purchased this case for $4.95 plus shipping (around $8), my total after tax was around $13.25..... I would definitely pay $30-40 for this case from a retailer had I seen it there first. I am in no way affiliated with this company nor do I really care if you buy one or not, just wanted to pass on what I thought was a good deal!