G-Form Extreme Sleeve and iPad 2 meets klutzy wife; Oh the humanity

Summary:As with any product of this kind, there's always a balance and trade-offs between functionality and aesthetics. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way.

It can make an iPad 2 withstand a direct hit on the glass from a twelve pound bowling ball.

And as we've also seen, when enclosed in its protective embrace, an iPad can take a 500-foot drop at terminal velocity from an ultralight aircraft and hit a grass field and can be pulled away, completely unharmed.

But withstand five seconds in my wife's hands and take a rare direct corner hit on the weakest part of the design? Not so much.

There are times in this industry when journalists really wish they didn't have to write an article like this.

If you just watched the video above, you know exactly what happened -- I handed the iPad 2 in the G-Form Extreme Sleeve to my wife, and she tossed it out my back porch, simulating what I would like to describe as a typical "klutzy fall".

It was not rehearsed, and my wife is not an expert iPad 2 projectile-throwing ninja. She said "You want me to throw it out on the concrete?" and I said "Why not".

It landed exactly as it did, and my heart sunk into my stomach the moment I realized what had occurred.

Had the case landed face up or even face down when it hit the concrete, I'm certain my iPad would have been fine. The problem is that it hit exactly where G-Form has conceded is the weakest part of the case design, on the corner of the sleeve where the zipper mechanism is.

I've been carrying the prototype version of the G-Form case for a couple of weeks, I've travelled with it in my backpack and had my iPad in the sleeve severely manhandled by TSA agents, and I've even had my iPad 2 knocked off the breakfast table a few times in the case and hit the carpet when I was on vacation.

And in those instances, the Extreme Sleeve did what it was supposed to do, in normal conditions.

And in normal conditions, where you're using the Extreme Sleeve in a business setting and carrying the unit around the office or around the house and need to protect it while travelling, I still think it is a very good product. And I'm going to continue to use one, despite my experience this weekend.

As I am told, the company actually did perform drop tests on the corner and the zipper, and their own iPads escaped damage, but clearly, in this instance, I got "lucky."

I've spoken to the folks over at G-Form, and they're being extremely conciliatory and are replacing the iPad, and I think they are being very gracious for doing so.

But there's another thing they are doing which I think is a really excellent example of a company willing to take customer feedback -- they're changing the design to greatly minimize the chances of this happening again.

They're committed to improving the product and making it one of the best cases in the industry, and I really do believe that, despite what happened to me today.

I have been told by the director of marketing that the improved design that will be available in a few weeks contains a reinforced PORON XRD bumper insert to provide corner and side protection on the zipper area, as per the photo below.

Apparently, G-Form decided not to include this zipper bumper in the product which shipped out this weekend because of last-minute design changes.

As with any product of this kind, especially with completely new products like the Extreme Sleeve, there's always going to be a balance as well as trade-offs between functionality and aesthetics.

The design team at G-Form thought the bumper you see above wasn't quite ready for use, so the production Extreme Sleeve that I got and a handful of customers and reviewers got this weekend didn't come with it.

All the cases within a few weeks will be getting this modification.

If you've pre-ordered a case and you are one of the few that gets one without this alteration, the company has assured me that customers can trade in their cases. I think that's a very service-oriented and very good thing for G-Form to do, so I applaud it. I honestly wish more companies would do stuff like this.

In addition to G-Form replacing my damaged device, I'm going to be sending the ruined iPad 2 with cracked screen and dented casing to the company for forensic analysis, so that the product can be improved and other customers can be spared future heartache.

G-Form is also working on a military-grade version that is a polycarbonate hybrid with a PORON XRD outer coating, as well as a completely waterproof version.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what they can do in applying the materials science experience they have with making sports protection products to consumer electronics.

It's an exciting field, and it's a cool, young company. I wish them the best, and I absolutely want to see what they've got coming down the pipe, despite my tragic bout with reality when one says "Sure, why not."

Still, this entire experience has confirmed something for me that I've always known. My wife can break anything.

Topics: iPad, Mobility

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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