Review: iPad Defender Series Case by OtterBox

Taylor Martin
 from Concord, NC
Published: September 11, 2010


When you purchase electronics, especially in the price range of five hundred dollars and upwards, you want to protect your purchase. The obvious way to do such is to buy a case for your device, and when it comes to Apple products, there are no shortages of options. If you want to take protecting your iPad to a different level, you start thinking OtterBox. The iPad Defender Series Case essentially gives your device that Toughbook feel. It's the same 1/4" thick rubber/plastic combination that you would find on any OtterBox on any other device, plus it comes with a multi-purpose cover to help protect the screen. Out of all of the cases I've tried for my iPad, this one tips the scales for me. Not only because it's so heavy, but for the peace of mind it ensures.

What's good

Protection. Protection. Protection. If I drop my iPad while it's in this case, I can pick it back up and keep on keepin' on. The Defender provides more shock resistance than any other case available that I've ever seen. With two layers of protection and a cover for the screen, you're safe against drops, no doubt about it. It also give the iPad a good feel in your hand, and helps you hold on to it. Out of box, the iPad can be a hard device to hold on to. It's an awkward shape compared to every other device we're used to, and it's extremely thin. The rubberized outer shell provides something to grip and the top side of the case offers a little bit of a bevel around the screen to hold on to.

With a hard plastic cover over the screen and a screen protector, there's no need to ever worry about scratching the screen again. I can just (literally) drop it into my back and go. Before I had the OtterBox, I would gently place the iPad between two of my school books and gently place my backpack on the floor when sitting it down. Now, I can toss it in the bag, toss the bag, etc. No more worrying about breaking my iPad. The case also doesn't interfere with the usability of the iPad. All of the buttons, ports, switches, etc. are easily accessible through either some rubber plug or in the case of the port on the bottom of the device, through a removable plastic port cover.

The plastic cover that covers the screen is a multi-purpose cover. Not only does it protect the screen from table corners and other potentially hazardous objects when falling, it also serves as a stand for the iPad. With a built-in stand, it puts this case over the top for me. This, I use more than anything. I prop my iPad up on my desk, pull up a PDF of my class textbook, and get out a pen and some paper. Before I would have to look at the iPad laying flat on the desk, which wasn't terrible, but being propped up and facing me at an angle makes it ten times easier to use in class or while at a table.

What's bad

The Defender series for the iPad isn't perfect, no case is. But this case comes the closest to perfection for me. For me, the iPad is already heavy enough. Compared to it's eReader counterparts, the iPad weighs nearly a pound more, which may not seem like a lot, but when you're holding the device for extended periods of time it can become a little tiresome. Well, when you add the Defender case to the iPad you're adding another twenty ounces to the mix. That nearly doubles the weight of the iPad, and puts it at almost five times the weight of the competition (judging by the newest Kindle at 8.5oz). There are always sacrifices with using accessories, and in this case the sacrifices are added weight to an already hefty device, and bulk, which is less of an issue.

One of my favorite things about the iPad is the slim design we've all come to know very well. The curved back on the iPad makes it feel even slimmer, but it starts out at half an inch thick. When you put the Defender on it bumps it up to one inch thick. You give up the sleek design of the iPad for a Toughbook® look.

Since I've put the case on and taken it off at least ten times now, it's not so hard putting it on. It's just like any other OtterBox that you've had to put on a phone, but much bigger. The hard plastic shell comes in two pieces, the silicon cover wraps around the inside and plugs into the plastic shell every two inches or so. Once you've mastered the art of putting on the OtterBox, you can put it on any device without a problem.

The negative side to the stand that comes built-in is the lack of being adjustable. I know, what can you expect from a two-piece mechanism? But typing on the iPad laying flat is a nuisance, and so is typing at a forty-five degree angle. Talk about accelerating carpal-tunnel...

The case comes with a screen protector, but it is a "self-adhering" (in other words a static-cling screen protector), which will help protect the screen, but isn't something I enjoy putting on or have ever enjoyed after putting it on. Static-cling screen protectors always seem to attract every dust particle in the room to one centralized location that just so happens to be on the screen of whatever it is you're installing the shield on. I personally use Invisible Shields on every device I own. I'm sad to say it but the OtterBox doesn't play nicely with the Invisible Shield, and that's because the Invisible Shield has a tacky texture to it. Sliding it in the plastic cover took me a good three minutes. Wiggling and maneuvering it to keep it from tearing up the shield. That's my guess as to why the makers of this case chose the static-cling cling shield, but I despise them in every way. I'm OCD and cannot stand dust being under a shield.

Conclusion

I know there may seem to be much more bad than there is good, but I've never liked cases (for any device) to begin with. I'm carrying two phones right now and they're both completely naked. Cases, in my opinion, while undoubtedly protecting my device take away from the design someone worked very hard on. I like carrying my devices naked, but the iPad is the exception. In any case (no pun intended), I base my opinion on a case around what has the negatives and sacrifices. I can elaborate all day about what is good about a certain accessory, but what really matters is what's bad about it, what makes me not like the case and would keep me from buying it. Most of these negatives are me nit-picking, but they're still gripes of mine which I wish had been addressed, and I'm sure many of you would have the same issues.

I rate the iPad Defender Series Case 9/10. I love this case, much more than anything else I've tried for the iPad. It offers excellent protection, ample functionality with the stand, and superior peace of mind against bumps and drops. While adding a little bulk to your already decent-sized device, it does give you some sort of secret agent feel to carrying around your iPad. Anything that makes me feel like Agent 008 earns a thumbs up in my book.

Products mentioned