By Todd Bernhard on Tue, 07/13/2010
I have been a fan of OtterBox cases for a long time. When I travel or plan to be near water, I always keep my iPhone in an OtterBox case. They used to make a waterproof case for my original iPhone, and it offered serious protection. More recently, OtterBox has offered ruggedized cases that are not entirely waterproof. Still, the cases typically have rubber seals for most of the openings, which is enough to protect your phone's moisture sensor from registering in a bit of rain, or by the pool, and other areas you might not want a naked iPhone.
I was anxiously awaiting what OtterBox would do for the iPad. My wait is over, and you can enjoy the unboxing photos below. OtterBox actually offers two cases, the Commuter ($65) and the Defender ($90). The Defender is the more rugged of the two, and that's what I picked up. After all, the whole point is protection, so why compromise?
When I first touched the Defender case, it reminded me of what Batman might use if he had an iPad. Not Adam West, but the "Christian Bale" Batman of the current film era. There are several components that make up the case, all of which snap together and seal with rubber. Flaps protect the headphone jack and screen rotation toggle switch, but not the speakers. Many users might be glad that the speakers are not blocked, so sound is not inhibited. The dock is covered, but a rubberized polycarbonate piece slides out to enable docking even with the Apple iPad dock. Also, in OtterBox tradition, the Apple logo is exposed. A lot of OtterBox users say they like this, so they will not be disappointed.
A screen protector and chamois are included, as well. Also, they have a large polycarbonate snap-on piece that covers the screen when not in use and serves as an adjustable stand when removed from the iPad. This alone might be a $20 item elsewhere.
Getting the iPad into the case is a lot like putting on a tuxedo after the holidays. It takes a while, is a snug fit, and it's not something you want to do often. If you will be using your iPad in harsh environments, put it in an OtterBox and just remove the dock protector when you need to charge and sync. But you won't want to be swapping cases often.
I cannot honestly say that I use my iPad in harsh environments, like the TV show "Dirty Jobs", but I do have small children who always want to use my iPad. With my iPad safely protected in its Defender case, I have peace of mind. And I feel a little bit like Batman!