Did you miss the cheapest new Apple product this week?

Amid the “oohs” and “aahs” for new Mac hardware and upcoming iOS 6 features that Apple(s aapl) announced this week, perhaps the least expensive new item out of Cupertino was missed. It’s no less important, however, for iPad owners. While the product didn’t warrant any stage time at Apple’s WWDC event on Monday, the new iPad Smart Case at $50 is a nice step up from the old Smart Cover.
There’s only one difference between the old Smart Cover and new Smart Case, aside from the name, of course. The case is exactly that: A case. Unlike the old cover, which simply covers the display, the Smart Case adds protection for the back of the iPad. That’s important because I find it relatively easy to scratch up the iPad’s back as I’m constantly putting it down on its backside.
The new SmartCase is made from polyurethane¬†in six colors — Light Gray, Dark Gray, Blue, Green, Pink and (PRODUCT) Red — and has cut-outs for the rear camera, headphone jack, mute button and external microphone port. The case covers the volume rocker and power button much like Apple’s iPhone bumper case does the same for iPhones. At no extra charge, Apple will custom engrave the back of the Smart Case, which works on both the iPad 2 and the new iPad.

Although I tend to keep my new iPad in a bedside clock / dock, the new Smart Case might be on my shopping list. After all, the iPad’s not just for use in bed, even though that’s where I tend to enjoy occasional web browsing, gaming and video consumption on Apple’s tablet.