By Daniel Rasmus on Wed, 03/28/2012
I was skeptical when I pulled the OtterBox Reflex Series for iPad 2 case out of its box. After taking it apart it kind of went to pieces. And I had to put them back together again. And the result was a good one. My iPad 2 has been sporting the OtterBox Reflex Series for a couple of days, except when attending business meetings (when it dresses up in a Qmadix Portfolio - more on that in an upcoming print edition of iPhone Life).
So this strange thin, funky case turns out to be pretty cool once slipped snuggly over the iPad's bezel and pushed into place (it doesn't snap into place so much as the two halves eventually meld). But I wasn't sure what to make of the cover (BTW, if you buy it from the OtterBox site, for the moment, you also get screen protection film along with the cover). The cover is a combination of milky plastic, black plastic and rubber (or officially: polycarbonate molded with TPE rubber) riddled with slots and bumps and notches.
If you buy one, don't force the cover on to the iPad. The trick to the cover is the rubber "ears," which become part of the stand when deployed (see the illustration below). Attach the cover with the typing display stand first (the hard plastic grip shaped protuberance on the case), and then pull the rubber "ears" over the device.
With all of that, once you get used to the cover, and figure out how to flex it and clip it together as a stand it makes sense. OtterBox tends to over-engineer cases just enough that you have to think before you use them, but not so much they don't eventually feel natural. A small learning curve is a worthy price to pay for sophisticated protection. One other area of sophistication comes in the speaker protection department. Many cases leave the speaker open to avoid muffling sound. The Reflex Series cleverly sports slots that "redirect" sound forward, increasing protection without decreasing the iPad 2's performance or utility.
Reflex Series for iPad 2 is a great everyday case and a light-weight travel case. It won't protect the iPad 2 to the level of the Defender Series (review of the latest Defender next week), but its not supposed to. That said, my iPad feels pretty secure in my hand, and a minor bounce or bump won't bother it at all in this case. And it fits like a glove, which means usefully, not tightly. Some cases are so snug they pull at screen protection film. The Reflex Series for iPad 2 doesn't disturb the film, but yet feels snug and secure.
If you travel a lot or have children (really, any children, even college students!) then Reflex Series is a good choice. You won't have to over think where you place your iPad—and if you loan it to someone, you can rest comfortably knowing your iPad will probably return in the same condition in which it left.
P.S. A note on the children issue: one of my over-21-college-aged-children the other night used the iPad, wearing the Reflex Series, to deliver snacks to the entertainment room. Nothing bad happened, and the cookies were just tasty, thank you for asking. Do protect your tech, regardless of your children's level of "maturity."