We took a FirstLook of the iPad2 version of the Otterbox Defender case on Monday. Many of you were eager in seeing how this version stacked up to the first iPad Defender. The short of it is that the Otterbox folks clearly took all they learned from making the first one and all the feedback they received about it and went back to the drawing board. What came out was one awesome heavy-duty iPad2 case.
The Otterbox iPad2 Defender case is a four layer protection system for tablet. You can choose the right amount of protection desired depending on the “threat level” of your typical operating conditions. If your iPad is expecting knocks, bumps, and an occasional tussle (with possibly a kerfuffle thrown in), then the hard plastic frame/rubber skin combo may be sufficient. If you plan to travel with the iPad and want a hard screen shield, this case has it covered. If there is a potential for the iPad screen to be exposed to particulates during use, then the application of a protective film on top of the glass screen may be warranted.
The redesigned Defender frame is now a two-piece unit (as compared to the three-pieces of version 1). Incorporated into the back panel are strategically placed cushioning pads. This effectively suspends the iPad inside the plastic frame and should be quite effective in isolating it from even a severe rap to the back. The channels created by the padding may provide some ventilation, but this is uncertain as the entire thing will be wrapped in a rubber skin. We found the rubber skin easier to apply compared to the previous version. The rubber tabs were better located and easier to push into the retaining slots of the frame.
In our installation, we opted not to put on the protective film. Since Apple went with the Gorilla Glass, we have not had any problems with screen scratches. As the Defender comes with a front cover, a film on the screen would be total overkill for us. However, if you expect to operate in a gritty environment (sand, dust, etc…) then applying the film will certainly give you that extra measure of protection.
As with any heavy-duty protective case, it will add bulk and weight to the iPad. There is just no way around it. The increase in frame thickness is not always a bad thing, especially if the extra heft made the tablet easier to handle by providing a surer grip. It doesn’t matter how thin the tablet is if it is slips out of your hand and tumbles down the stairs or the side of hiking trail.
The one item we want to highlight with the new Defender case is the cover/stand. Like the first unit, the stand is integrated into the front cover, but Otterbox has completely rethought the implementation. The first iPad stand can position the screen in only one angle. Because of its design, if the iPad was not resting on it, it would collapse. This new design is sturdier and can hold the screen in both a low position for more comfortable typing or more upright angle for movie watching. The angle just depends on which side of the stand the iPad is placed. No adjustment to the stand is needed. Very simple and very effective. It is a vast improvement over the old design.
If we had to choose between the Otterbox Defender and the Gumdrop Drop Tech case, it would be a very tough decision. We like the rough exterior of the Drop Tech case, but we were very impressed with the improvements Otterbox made to the Defender. If push comes to shove, we would probably pick the Defender because it has a front cover and the integrated stand. However, the real solution is to buy another iPad2 so we don’t have to decide 🙂