When it comes to protecting gadgets in the toughest of circumstances OtterBox is one of the go-to brands and the company has now released cases for the iPad. OtterBox sent along the new iPad Commuter Series Case for us to put to the test and after extended use we found that it offers more protection than most cases, but there are a few issues that stand out.
The OtterBox iPad Commuter case is a 3 piece protection solution that wraps your iPad in a combination of rubber and hard plastic. First off there is a screen protector, followed up by a silicon rubber portion which covers the back of the case and finally a hard plastic backing that completes the case.
Unlike other screen protectors for the iPad, the film included with the Commuter series case goes on surprisingly easily. After a second attempt at realigning the screen protector it went on without any air bubbles. There was a speck of dust that showed up under the screen protector but with a more cautious application it shouldn’t be hard to apply this screen protector without a trace.
Installing the rest of the case is a snap, literally and takes just a minute as you can see in the video below which also gives you a feel for how the silicon and plastic parts come together.
The iPad Commuter series is not designed to protect your iPad from major drops or the water, as you would expect from the Defender series case; but it does offer protection for the bumps and rigors of day-to-day use in the office and in a backpack. The silicon corner bumpers are especially handy if you carry your iPad from office to office and tend to bump into doors while navigating tight corners; something that I do daily since I work in what used to be an old college dorm that was built with odd angles.
The plastic back, combined with the silicon offers a good mix of hard protection and soft protection where it is needed and thanks to the lip on the front edge and the screen protector this is the only open front case I have felt truly comfortable carrying in my backpack without another layer of protection.
It is also one of the only cases I have seen designed for an unobstructed view of the Apple Logo on the back of the iPad which is covered by a clear plastic.
The Commuter case offers access to all the ports, including the dock connector via a removable plate at the base of the case. The speaker is wide open and there is no loss of sound quality or loudness when using this case. The volume buttons are covered in the silicon and easy to use, as is the orientation lock. Up top, the power button is covered in silicon and is almost flush with the hard plastic cover but easy to use. The headphone port is covered by a small piece of silicon which has a hole for the microphone. This small bit of silicon keeps dust and objects out of the headphone port but because it is recessed you will need to grab it by coming left to right across the top where there is a small beveled edge which allows for easy access to the port.
When it comes down to use, being able to forget about babying the iPad is nice. This isn’t unique to the OtterBox Commuter case, but because of the multiple levels of protection I felt more at easy taking the device about with me and allowing others, even a child, to hold the iPad.
While the OtterBox commuter case provides a great deal of protection for not much more than a standard iPad case and the easiest to install screen protector I have applied to date, it distinctly feels like a two-part case. That is to say when you are holding it you can tell that the silicon and the hard plastic are not one piece because of a small amount of play or room for movement. This, combined with a dock connector cover that has some give when holding the iPad in landscape mode, detracts from the overall feel of the case even if it doesn’t affect the look or protection abilities of the case.
In all this is a good case that definitely provides protection and peace of mind, but it falls short of being great due to the fit of the dock cover and fact that you can tell the silicon and plastic are separate pieces.
- Easy to apply screen protector
- Peace of mind protection
- Affordable given protection and competing case costs
- Dock connector has noticeable play when held in landscape mode
- Can tell the case is two-piece
The OtterBox Commuter Series iPad Case retails for $64.95 and is available at OtterBox.com.