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Here's one way to protect your iPad

Matt Strelecki 12/15/2010 @ 3:42pm

If you’ve purchased an iPad you’ve probably noticed that beyond its ease of use and portability that it isn’t really farm tough right out of the box. The elegant styling may look great and stand up well with kid glove handling but you know that isn’t going to work in the cab of your combine or when it inevitably gets dropped.
   
Since the iPad was introduced, numerous after market cases have become available with various features, a range of costs and style choices. From shock resistant to completely waterproof, these cases differ considerably and choosing the best one for your needs can be a research chore. Successful Farming decided to test drive what seemed to be the strongest case available, the iPad Defender Series Case by OtterBox, and put it through its paces.
   
OtterBox has created protective cases for numerous mobile devices from Blackberrys  to iPhones and have a solid reputation for designing top notch products that protect and maintain the ease of use of your device.
   
When I unpacked my Defender Series Case, I was struck by how solid it was. It looked like the strongest cases I’ve seen before but pumped up on steroids. It was thick, heavy and looked like it could stand some serious drops and bumps. In short, it’s impressive. Once you have it installed, your once thin and lightweight iPad will look like it’s been through boot camp. It will be muscular, heavier and able to take a solid bang.
   
But that impressiveness comes at a price. At nearly $90, it’s head and shoulders above most other cases in costs but it delivers. If you want to protect your several hundred dollar iPad investment and make it last in the rugged world of farming, this is a great product.
   
The case is tough but so is getting it on the iPad. I have three complaints about the product and the first is that the instructions are very difficult to follow illustrations. Evidently, the OtterBox folks didn’t want to worry about getting the languages right so they opted for the internationally understood use of illustrations to walk you through getting it onto your iPad. Unfortunately, the illustrations leave much to be desired. They are confusing and difficult to follow.
   
Complaint number two is that the packaging is misleading. After you pull out the case, you’ll notice a piece of black chipboard on the flap on the right while the illustrated instructions are on the flap on the left. I didn’t pull out the piece of black chipboard until I nearly had the case together and had completely screwed up the installation of the cover that protects the glass surface. Unfortunately, underneath the black chipboard, completely hidden, are the instructions for the installation of the glass protector. There is no indication that there are instructions under the black chipboard and that the instructions they hide are essential to correctly installing the glass protector. To boot, the area hidden under the chipboard includes a link to a website that will walk you through the installation which are the only words anywhere once inside the box. The worst part of this misleading packaging is that you must install the screen protector first before continuing with the installation.
   
The last complaint is one that OtterBox endures about their other products as well. OtterBox provides a crystal clear screen protector, which is common among many of their cases. It is durable and scratch resistant but it also requires a dust free environment for application. Any piece of dust or stray hair will turn into a glaring bubble and will be nearly impossible to remove once you’ve laid the protector down. I recommend that you take great care when installing the screen protector and take your time. If, for whatever reason, you ruin your screen cover (like I did), the case is still extremely durable but you simply don’t have the added scratch resistance to the glass.
   
I highly recommend viewing the videos at the link OtterBox provides, (http://www.otterbox.com/apple-instructions), on the packaging. It explains the entire installation process through short videos and they will save you time and headache.

If you make a mistake and ruin your screen protector or have any other issues, you can contact OtterBox at 888-695-8820 or through their website at http://www.otterbox.com.
  
The other features the case offers is a heavy-duty cover that easily pops off and can be reattached to the backside for ease of portability. The cover also doubles as an easel for the iPad for desktop viewing. This is a great feature and you’ll use it more often than you’d think.
   
The iPad Defender Series Case by OtterBox is an extremely tough product that will add years to the life and finish of your iPad. It may be expensive, add weight and thickness to your iPad but it will also help it survive the in rough world of farming. I highly recommend it.
   
Have you bought an iPad yet? If so, have you purchased a protective case for it? Please send me an email with your experience and if you’re happy with it. If not, I’d love to hear about it so we can share it with other producers. Please send your thoughts to matt.strelecki@meredith.com.

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