Sunday, October 03, 2010

Hardware Review: Otterbox Defender Case for iPad




I've only been in a tank once. It was some museum in my childhood and I can't remember where, but it was impressive. When you were inside you couldn't hear anything from the outside world. You'd bang on it and your hand would hurt. It was an impressive vehicle that provided unbelievable protection from the outside.

"Tank" is the first word I thought of when using my Otterbox Defender for the iPad.

While I'm a big fan of the Defender for the iPhone, I was deeply concerned about my iPad. The iPad costs nearly twice as much and just seems so exposed with that big screen in the front. Would my trusted guardian angels in Fort Collins let me down? Absolutely not.

Similar to most Otterbox Defender cases, the Defender for the iPad has two methods of protection. The core is made of hard plastic, which is particularly important on the iPad since you could flex it hard enough to crack the glass. Unfortunately, I've seen this in action. The second line of defense is a standard silicone overwrap. This silicone withstood sweat and oils without getting slick or discolored. The silicone protects most of the ports on the iPad such as the volume switch and the rotation lock. The dock connector is protected for daily use, but is accessible via a removable plate to allow the iPad to be plugged in for charging.

Unlike the Defender for the iPhone, the Defender for the iPad does not have an integrated plastic screen shield built into the case. I was very disappointed because they included a standard plastic overlay instead. I hate those. After about 10 attempts of putting on the plastic overlay and pushing out the bubbles, I gave up entirely. I'm sure the engineering of such a large screen protector was difficult, but I did like the complete protection the integrated overlay offered for the phone version and wish it were available for the iPad version as well..

The Defender for the iPad had some unique features that more than made up for the lack of integrated screen protector. Because the screen is so vulnerable on the iPad, Otterbox included a hard plastic protector shield that completely encloses the front of the iPad and snaps into place with the rest of the case. But there's one more thing: this hard plastic also acts as an iPad stand in either horizontal or vertical mode. I've struggled with carrying a quality iPad stand while doing heavy typing and my prayers were answered by Otterbox's engineering department.

Some may balk that the case has an $89 price tag or that it bulks up the iPad a bit, but like the solider in the field, sometimes you need that level of protection. It won't protect against everything, but for day-to-day mortals like me who take it everywhere around town, this is a reliable insurance policy to protect my iPad against mishaps. I love my iPad almost as much as my Defender for my iPad! Great job!

Pros: Outstanding protection, innovative screen protector and stand
Cons: No integrated plastic screen shield

5 out of 5 Dogcows


Article was republished by the Lawrence Apple User's Group 2.0 here , Macsimumnews as well as other groups listed on the right