Otterbox iPad Cases
Type: Case, Protection
Otterbox iPad Cases
2010 has been a great year for tech savvy gadget fans, and with new gadgets comes new ways to protect them. Otterbox, one of the leading names in mobile phone cases, have extended their product line to include two new cases for the iPad - one in their rough and tumble Defender Series, and one in the more casual Commuter Series.
The Defender Series, as the name suggests, is for those looking for maximum protection. The innermost layer is made of a high impact, polycarbonate shell, which is then wrapped in a thick silicone skin that increases both shock absorption and user comfort. The screen is given added protection by a detachable polycarbonate shield that easily snaps into place when the iPad is not in use. Both the Defender and the Commuter also ship with a self-adhering, clear protective film to protect the screen, which comes in handy should something happen to your device when you have the shield removed.
While on its own the Defender offers great comfort and outstanding protection, the shield is the piece that manages to tie this whole offering together. When not needed, it simply snaps to the back of the device offering further protection should someone accidentally send your iPad careening to the ground. It also doubles as a stand for the iPad, with a small plastic section on the inside of the shield snapping out to allow you to place the iPad in landscape position at a 45 degree angle. For those using an iPad at a desk, this is a natural.
Unfortunately, when syncing or charging your iPad, you'll need to remove the dock door attachment on the back. Intended for those using Apple's proprietary dock (available from Apple.com for $29.99) the door needs to detach from the unit completely whenever you need to plug your iPad in, creating something of an unnecessary hassle, not to mention a loose piece that could easily be lost while detached.
While the dock door feature is nice for those who have an Apple Dock, there are many users who simply sync their iPads using the included cable and nothing else. Other Otterbox cases feature silicone plugs that can be removed to provide easy access when owners need to sync their devices. Putting such a plug on the bottom of the dock door here would have offered the best of both worlds, and it's kind of hard to understand why they didn't do so.
To be sure, the thick silicone skin will keep your iPad safely padded, but it can also make the volume and power buttons a little tough to push - tougher than normal, that is. Accessing the screen rotation lock is something of a pain as well. The switch for this is hidden under a flap, and those with large fingers may have some difficulty reaching it through the tiny opening the case provides. Still, little complaints like these are a small price to pay for the protection that the case offers when your iPad takes its first big drop to the ground.
The Defender also adds a great deal of weight to the relatively light and easy-to-carry iPad. Yes, it offers outstanding protection, but when you factor in the polycarbonite shell, the thick silicone wrap, and the additional shield that doubles as a display stand, the case ends up weighing nearly as much as the iPad itself. That said, the combined weight is still less than 3 pounds...
Otterbox's other iPad offering, the Commuter Series, weighs in at a much lighter 7.2 ounces and is available at a somewhat lower price point. While offering less protection than the Defender Series - the Commuter utilizes a thinner polycarbonite shell and lacks the detachable shield - the Commuter makes for a convenient alternative to those using their iPads in a more casual setting. Consider this the living room alternative to the Defender's harsher job-site-quality protection.
The Commuter also manages to avoid a few of the problems encountered with the Defender. Thanks to the thinner case design, reaching the screen rotation switch is a snap. The volume and power buttons required less force to operate as well. Alas, it still suffers from the same dock door design annoyance of its big Defender brother.
Still, in terms of device protection, there is simply no better name than Otterbox. If, however, you're more concerned with convenience, then Otterbox's iPad offerings are lacking.
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