Owners of the iPad 2 have a lot of choices when it comes to protecting their device with a case. There are all sorts of leather, plastic, portfolio, rubber, colors, and cost points to choose from. For maximum protection, the preferred and most popular case has always been the OtterBox Defender. I use the Defender Case on all my smartphones. It’s the best. But for the iPad 2, the Defender Case offered superior protection, but was very large and heavy. (check out my review) So I found myself with two cases for my iPad 2. A daily home use case which was lightweight and easy to use, and then the OtterBox Defender for when I traveled and needed maximum protection. I was really looking for a single case to take care of all my needs. So I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when OtterBox contacted me and said they had the perfect solution for my iPad 2. The Reflex Series Case. We heard about this new case at last years CES. That was over 9 months ago. But now it seems we are about to see another series of cases from OtterBox, which could make all others fail to compare. Mobility Digest got and exclusive first look at the Reflex Series Case for the iPad 2 and you know what’s next, so let’s get into this Mobility Digest Review!
WHAT’S IN THE BOX
OtterBox went out of their way to create a totally unique case for the iPad 2 with the Reflex Series and did not hesitate to repackage it in a magnetized two part outer box that is completely black with an imprinted OtterBox Logo. The package is awesome and as you open the box there is an inner tray containing the following:
Complete installation instructions
Two part polycarbonate rear cover
one piece front cover and kick stand
OtterBox screen protector and application tools
Very cool OtterBox Sticker (yes I’m a gadget geek!)
From the first moment I got the package I was impressed. This to me is culmination of OtterBox’s experience in manufacturing the best possible case for your device and their pursuit of excellence. The packaging upon opening includes instructions to make sure you know what you are getting and how to install it before get to the product. The OtterBox Reflex Series case for the Apple iPad 2 is nothing short of excellent. The front cover and kickstand is the first thing you notice and the design looks like the engineering department went for function, but an amazing design. The two part rear cover is molded very well and there is nothing cheap about anything in this box. The Silicone Reflex end pieces are the same silicone that OtterBox uses for their other cases and has a very strong feel to them. The inside of the two piece back cover has the familiar padding to protect our device and the molded cutouts are in perfect position.
INSTALLATION PART 1: THE CASE
Unlike the OtterBox Defender Series Case for the iPad 2, the Reflex Series case is very easy to install and yet still provides maximum protection for the device. The firs thing you do is take the two piece polycarbonate rear cover and slide them into place making sure that there is a flush fit and the locking mechanism is engaged. The rear of your iPad 2 is now fully protected. Pretty easy huh? The front of the device is protected by a combination front cover and kickstand that allows you to view your iPad 2 in two positions both in landscape and portrait orientations. Check out my complete video below for how easy the installation is on the Reflex Series Case for the iPad 2.
INSTALLATION PART 2: SCREEN PROTECTOR
The OtterBox Reflex Series Case includes a very nice and fairly easy to install screen protector to complete the protection necessary for your device. The fist thing you want to do is make sure that you have the back cover installed as it works as an alignment tool. If you miss align the screen protector, installing the back cover could contact the screen protector and cause it to come loose. Not good. Installing the screen protector is very easy after that little helpful hint.
Peel back the screen side film on the screen protector and install it with the rear polycarbonate two piece cover installed to act as an alignment guide.
Start at the bottom and work your way up smoothing out the air bubbles with the supplied squeegee tool.
Once finished, remove the top layer of film from the screen protector and remove the bubbles from the center out with the handy dandy squeegee.
Use the supplied cloth to wipe your finger prints off from installation and ENJOY!
FITMENT & DESIGN
As I have stated a few times already, the Reflex Series case for the iPad 2 is a complete redesign from the Defender Series. OtterBox took the strength, protection, and quality aspects of the Defender and somehow compressed them all together and created a case with the same elements, but only with a much smaller footprint. The two piece rear polycarbonate cover is sleek and sexy but yet completely protects the back side of the iPad 2. The locking mechanism employed works perfectly and is almost seamless when snapped together looking as it if was always one piece. The back cover then wraps around the front of the device completing protection on the sides. On the inside of the back cover, OtterBox uses a high quality padding that will help absorb some shock but more importantly keep your device from getting scratched up. The cutouts on the OtterBox Reflex Case are as always, perfectly aligned and allow functionality of the camera, sync/power port, mute switch, and volume up and down buttons. The only issue I had was on my Reflex case, the volume up and down buttons tended to be “stiff” and hard to press unless perfectly pressing them straight down. Perhaps the buttons will loosen somewhat over time. One last thumbs up on the rear two piece cover is the speaker cover that is angled and curved towards the screen side and enhances the audio. This redirection added some much needed volume and clarity to the sound when not using speakers or a headset. I did notice a slight echo type affect, but the overall enhancement of the sound far outweighed it in my opinion.
The front cover is where some engineering magic really took place for multiple of reasons. To start, the case is called a Reflex and this is where it exists. On one side, both top and bottom, you will notice two large rubber feet. It is on these feet that the Reflex ability of the case is at. It creates a sort of dead zone between the device and the case to absorb the shock of an impact and directly transfer it to your device. I would have liked to seen that feature on all four corners but installing the front cover would have been much more difficult. Opposite of the Reflex rubber feet is the lipped over hook that is positioned on the device first for installation of the cover. The rubber feet are last and your finger sliding under the feet is how they are installed. (see my video above)
The front cover has a see through look which shows off all the engineering that went into this cover including the kickstand. I personally would have liked to have it solid black, but this works well too. The kickstand allows you two positions. A laid back angle which is meant for typing and perhaps viewing when holding the iPad 2 in your lap. I found that typing at this angle a little difficult but not impossible. At the end of the day, I think it is a personal preference thing and nothing to do with a design issue. The second position is standing almost straight up which is perfect for sitting and viewing multi media content such as movies or music. In any one of the two positions, you can rotate your device between landscape and portrait orientations.
But what do you do when you are using your iPad 2 and don’t want to use the kickstand feature of the front cover? Install it on the backside. To keep it out of the way or to make sure you don’t lose it if you are commuting and using your device, it fits identically the same way on the back side of the device with the two piece rear cover installed.
Here is my complete photo gallery:
Just to put it simply, I have a new and permanent case for my iPad 2. I in fact use two cases depending on my needs and travel before the reflex. The Defender Case was my preferred travel case as nothing matches its protection value. However, for home use, it’s size and weight made it feel very unnatural so I opted for a leather portfolio case. Yes, I still hate the smart covers! Now I have a permanents case that will take care of all my needs either traveling or for more controlled home use. The Reflex Series case for the Apple iPad 2 is mixes both the superior protection of the Defender Series case and the lightweight easy to use leather portfolio case I use when at home. I have absolutely loved using this case and recommend it two thumbs up for anyone that owns and iPad 2. Now the only thing OtterBox needs to make sure of is that the iPad 3 Reflex Series case comes out on launch day of the iPad 3! No more waiting for my OtterBox Case!
The OtterBox Reflex Series Case for the iPad 2 is not available yet, but should be released in the next week or so. Selling price will be $69.99 and can be purchased directly from OtterBox or any other fine retailer.
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Priced well at $69.99 which is $20 dollars less than the Defender Series.
Easy to install
Included screen protector
Reflex rubber end pieces that help protect the device
Enhanced sound from redirected speaker cover
Volume buttons were a little tough to press
Typing was somewhat difficult in the laid back position of the stand