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Apple iPad 2 rugged case showdown

It's that time of year when the rain and wind impact our outside activities. The Apple iPad has thousands of applications and many are available for those of us working and playing in the outside environment. For coaches like myself, we need some kind of case to protect our devices while also allowing us to manage our teams in practice and games. I took a look at three different rugged iPad 2 cases and have selected a case that fits my needs.
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Three case manufacturers sent in products for evaluation in the outside elements, including OtterBox, Griffin Technology, and Gumdrop Cases. Make sure to check out my full review on ZDNet Mobile Gadgeteer to see which one I selected as my preferred case.

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The OtterBox Defender Series case has been a standard in rugged cases for years.

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There are four parts to the OtterBox Defender Series case, including a front frame piece, rear plastic cover, silicone wrap, and final outside plastic frame that doubles as a stand.

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The front plastic frame piece wraps a bit over the top of your iPad 2.

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The back clear plastic piece has some soft material inserts and openings for the speaker and bottom apple connector.

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The front and back pieces latch together securely.

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There is a large hinged opening for the back piece that lets you access the connecton port.

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The outer silicone wrap piece has openings for ports, the camera, and other accessible areas. Note that ports have covers that can be pressed into place.

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The back silicone piece has an opening for the Apple logo on the back, but remember there is a clear plastic piece underneath protecting it too.

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There is an opening in the silicone for the speaker on the back.

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The final piece of the OtterBox can be converted into a stand for two different viewing positions.

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The outer plastic piece can be a stand and also attached on the front or back for more protection while transporting your iPad 2.

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The front of your iPad 2 doesn't get much protection from the OtterBox Defender case, but the outer edges are well protected. OtterBox does include a self-adhesive screen protector, but unlike the other rugged cases it is not a part of the case system and is a separate screen protector.

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The OtterBox Defender does wrap around the main iPad 2 button with silicone material also in place over the plastic.

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Griffin Technology has a Survivor case with integrated stand that comes in black and pink. I didn't get the pink one to evaluate :)

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The back of the Griffin Survivor case details the testing standards that the case was certified for. Note that this case meets US Military Standard Mil-STD-810F.

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The wind and rain standard is important to me as a soccer coach in Washington State where half of our season is spent playing in the rain. As you can see the case was tested in rain for 1 hour at 7.8 inches/hour.

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The iPad 2 is an expensive piece of gear and occasional drops are expected if you carry it around with you. Thankfully, the case was tested to withstand a drop of 6 feet to a concrete floor. I wasn't willing to test my $829 iPad 2 by dropping it myself, but feel free to do so yourself :)

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There are sealed ports in the case and the sand/dust test conditions were 3 hours at up to 59 feet/second. I appreciate this protection since there are times when dirt is blowing around where I work.

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If you are blowing through the woods on an ATV then you are likely subjecting your iPad to some heavy vibration. This test was conducted over 18 hours at 20-2000 Hz and the silicone piece helps absorb these vibrations.

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The Griffin Technology Survivor case also has four pieces; front with integrated screen protector, back frame piece, silicone outer piece, and a small stand piece that secures to the case.

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The front frame piece has a durable plastic screen protector and it fits snugly on the front of your iPad 2. As you can see there are opening for the front facing camera and main button.

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The back hard plastic shell snaps tightly with the front frame piece. It was actually pretty difficult to get the two pieces apart and get my iPad 2 out, but that is what you want for optimal protection. Notice there are openings for the camera, speaker, and bottom charging/connection port.

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Here you can get a closer view of some of the back piece openings.

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There is an opening for the rear camera and other buttons on the iPad 2 as well.

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The silicone outer piece is secured to the black plastic frame pieces by inserting the silicone attachment points into openings in the plastic frame.

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Here you can see the front with all four pieces attached to the case. The display is well protected from the elements by the integrated protector.

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Here is a shot of the back with the case pieces all assembled. Note that there are silicone covers for the ports and the stand attaches to either side of the case.

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The plastic stand can be opened for viewing your iPad 2 in landscape orientation.

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The iPad 2 with the stand holding it up.

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This back view shows that the stand does not come out a long ways, but still is fairly stable.

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You can see how nicely the silicone and plastic are integrated together in the case.

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Ports and other parts of your iPad 2 are covered by silicone plugs and flaps.

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The speaker and charging port are covered by flaps.

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Here is a shot of those same flaps closed and secured for maximum protection.

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Gumdrop Cases sent along two of their Drop Series cases, one in white and one in military green. They also offer them in pink, black, and black/red.

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Here is a photo of the white one in retail packaging.

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The military edition is Army green.

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There are four pieces to these cases too; polycarbonate front and frame, screen protector frame, polycarbonate back frame, and outer silicone skin. The only difference between the two I tested was the outer silicone skin color.

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The screen protector frame sets on the front and then the front frame piece attaches directly to it and fits snugly on the iPad 2. In other cases the screen protector piece is part of the front frame.

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There are openings along the plastic frame for all ports, cameras, and other parts. The slits you see in the plastic are where the silicone outer shell attaches.

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There are also openings on the back plastic frame piece for all ports.

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There is a speaker opening on the back. Notice the arrow pieces sticking up along the center of the back? These are where the silicone attaches to help keep it tight to the case back.

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The silicone shell attaches to the back with some ports being protected with hinged plugs. Areas such as the camera are always available and open. There is no protection for the camera though.

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Here is a shot showing where those arrow pieces hold the silicone in place.

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As you can see the back silicone skin has high ridges and give the case a tough look.

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Here is a back view of the assembled case.

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There is a speaker grille in the silicone so there is the potential for water and dust to get in through this opening.

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There silicone wraps around the front and covers the iPad 2 button. I found it to move in and out of this too easy at times.

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The silicone attaches securely through all of the slits in the black plastic frame.

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Here you can see the back of the white and military green cases.

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iPad 2 rugged case gallery 1

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iPad 2 rugged case gallery 2

 

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