OtterBox Defender for iPad 2: Lighter, slimmer, but strong as ever

The new OtterBox Defender is the ne plus ultra of hard case solutions for protecting your iPad 2.

The new OtterBox Defender is the ne plus ultra of hard case solutions for protecting your iPad.

As I've been showing you in the last few weeks, OtterBox has been rolling out its next-generation in hard-case protection for tablet computers, first with RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook and now, finally for the Apple iPad 2.

Gallery: OtterBox Defender for iPad 2

The first thing you notice when removing the case from the packaging is just how much bulk they've managed to remove from the product while still maintaining a very high level of protection. Roughly 20 percent of the weight has been eliminated from the previous design.

As I have observed from the construction of the PlayBook version, OtterBox appears to be moving towards a clamshell design for their tablet protection systems that snaps rather than slides together. While this makes it slightly more difficult to remove the device from the case, it does make for a tighter and slimmer fit than the original version for the first generation iPad.

Additionally, besides making substantial engineering changes to the basic case design, they've managed to shave off a bunch of excess polycarbonate from the front of the case and on the case cover itself.

The area which used to completely surround the iPad 1 bezel on the older case with polycarbonate now leaves a large part of the bezel area exposed, so that it is easier to clean the screen, but keeps the edges and rim of the case above the screen in the event of a fall, so that it will be unlikely that something directly hits the glass itself.

The main action button is covered by a similar mechanism as the previous case but the polycarbonate plastic wraps around it as opposed to covering the entire bezel area.

As with the previous version of the case, all of the receptacles and control surfaces are protected and covered with silicone rubber but are also completely accessible, so your iPad 2 can live its entire life in the Defender.

Unlike the previous generation which used a large sliding peice of polycarbonate that slided out to and was removed to protect Apple's proprietary charging and syncing connector, the charging port is covered with a silicone rubber flap bonded to polycarbonate that can easily be bended away so that the 30-pin connector can be inserted.

The polycarbonate cover itself which snaps on to the front or the back of the case (where it does not obstruct the view of the rear camera) has been improved as well. The hinge mechanism which is used to support the iPad at an angle for typing as well as in a standing position for viewing now slides into position rather than snaps as used in the previous model, making it easier to move.

While the design has been reduced in weight substantially from the previous version, the case is still one of the heaviest available for the iPad 2 -- with the cover off, the iPad 2 in the new Defender weighs just under two pounds, approximately 31.2 ounces. The iPad 2 is 1.3lbs naked, so you're sacrificing a lot of the lightness of tablet in the process of protecting it.

The Defender for iPad 2 costs $89.95, which is no small price to pay for a case either. But then again, the first time the Defender protects your iPad from a hit on the corner, the side or the front may save you several hundred dollars from having to replace your device.

Will you be purchasing the new Defender your your iPad 2? Talk Back and Let Me Know.