Torture Testing - The big case test - Part 3

Summary:OK, after all that testing it's time to draw a few conclusions about just how robust the protective cases are.

This is Part 3 in a 3 part series of posts --> Post 1 | Post 2

Conclusions and closing thoughts

OK, time to draw a few conclusions.  Overall, I've been impressed with how much abuse some of these cases can take, and some seem capable of absorbing and shrugging off extreme levels of abuse. 

Let's start with the Storm Case iM2050.  Everything about this case is designed with robustness in mind - the latches, the durable plastic, the strong hinges, the secure seals, the foam that can be easily cut to provide a custom fit for your gear.  I wouldn't go as far as to call it bombproof (because I don't have a bomb to hand ... :-), but it's as close to indestructible as cases go.  I've not seen a case able to take so much abuse without showing any signs of failure.

Personal note: We've had first-hand experience of just how much abuse Storm cases can take before - one of ours (an iM2100) was in a traffic collision a few years ago which resulted in the case being crushed between a door and a bulkhead (so much so that an imprint of the case could be seen on the outer skin or the door).  Inside this case was a fair bit of photographic and electronic equipment.  When I saw the vehicle and how the case was embedded inside it I didn't hold out much hope for it or the contents, however, when I managed to free it, both the case and contents were fine - and the case is still in active duty.  We look at the battle scars as medals of honor.

I'm also impressed with the Seahorse SX 300.  Even though this case leaked water in the rain test, this case is both compact and very strong.  It doesn't feel as robust as the Storm Case iM2050 (the plastic shell of the Storm Case feels soft and rubbery while the Seahorse feels harder and more brittle, also the stainless steel fittings and the strong latches on the Storm Case feel more robust) but in reality it still offers a very secure shell for your electronic gear.  One critique of the Seahorse is the foam.  Personally, I'd feel happier if it came with two layers of thick foam and a thicker bottom layer.

Next -->

The Storm Case iM2370 is a different animal to the other Storm Case and the Seahorse.  This case is an attaché-style case designed to protect notebook PCs.  This means that it's bigger than the other case and this increase in size seems to make it more prone to crushing.  In the crush test the case deformed a lot, so much so that if there was a notebook inside the case at the time it would have been trashed.  This deformation also meant that the waterproof seal was compromised.  The issue here I think is that the larger the case gets the heavier they get, but because this case is designed to be carried some weight has been shaved off, and this means that overall it's not as robust as the iM2050.

The Otterbox 3510 is again a different species of case.  This case is more of a caddy than a full-blown case due to its smaller size and lack of a handle.  In early testing it performed admirably - in the drag test its lightweight construction meant that the abrasion it suffered was minimal, while during the crush test it seemed totally at home underneath a 3,900 lbs vehicle.  It also survived a single drop test, although the latches did pop open, which meant that anything inside the case would have been unprotected - not good.  During the second drop test (the drop test with the egg) the hinge gave way during impact and the lid broke off.  This sadly meant that testing of the Otterbox had to come to an end.  Overall, I'd like to see more robust latches on the Otterbox, and perhaps strengthening around the hinge area.

Finally, the Peli i1010.  Overall I think that the design of this case is interesting but I really didn't like the way that the latches gave way during the drag test and both drop tests.  A robust outer shell of a case is no good if the case pops open during an incident and exposes whatever's being protected. 

As you can probably tell, we had a lot of fun testing all these cases.  It was interesting to see just how much abuse they can take, especially since we regularly use Storm Cases, Otterboxes and Peli cases to protect our electronic and photographic gear when on the road and in the outdoors. 

Here are direct links to the gallery of images for the individual cases:

And here are the drop test videos:

This is Part 3 in a 3 part series of posts --> Post 1 | Post 2 

In closing I'd like to thank all the companies involved for sending products for testing.  And my wife Kathie for letting me use her car to drive over her iPod and iPAQ – oh and for doing the filming and photography at the bottom of the cliff!

Thoughts?  Ideas?  Feedback?  What did we miss?

Topics: Hardware, PCs

About

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is an internationally published technology author who has devoted over a decade to helping users get the most from technology -- whether that be by learning to program, building a PC from a pile of parts, or helping them get the most from their new MP3 player or digital camera.Adrian has authored/co-authored technic... Full Bio

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