On March 16th Apple introduced us to the new iPad which highlighted the retina screen made famous on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S. Also announced was the new Defender Series case by OtterBox that would suit the iPad 2 and the iPad 3rd Generation. We got a teaser from Will Robinson, OtterBox’s Portfolio Manager that this would be the “best Defender Series Case yet” for your iPad 3. I was very much looking forward to both the iPad 3 and the new Defender Series case by OtterBox. I had reviewed both the original OtterBox Defender Series case for the iPad 2 and was left a little disappointed with it. I was soon reviewing OtterBox’s  follow up to the Defender Series case called the Reflex. This would be my permanent case for the iPad 2. I loved it. So how would the follow up by OtterBox compare to the original? I happen to have gotten one in and I think it’s time for another Mobility Digest Review on the OtterBox Defender Series case for the iPad 2 and new iPad 3rd Generation.

What you get in the Box

OtterBox always does a nice job of marketing and packaging it’s products and the new Defender Series Case is no exception. The box is very well made and printed on the front is iProtection as OtterBox is really beating their chest with the investment they made into Apple and their dominance with their products. The Defender Case comes with some very brief instructions but is very brief on the features and benefits as well as any helpful tips on installing the case on your new iPad.

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The new Defender Case comes in four parts. There is the all too familiar two part polycarbonate inner shell that clips together and fully encases your iPad. Over that goes a newly formulated silicone cover that is now slightly harder and will definitely last longer as I have discovered on my iPhones. There is also a single piece front cover that also has a built in kickstand for viewing the iPad in a stand.

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Assembly and Design

One of the biggest gripes I had with the first OtterBox Defender Case for the iPad 2 was how hard it was to put together. This time around OtterBox took note and made things a lot easier on us! The biggest thing they did was to incorporate a screen protector into the  front part of the inner shell. This would be similar to the design they use on the iPhone. Installing a screen protector takes a few minutes and is a pain to get the air bubbles out and now that is a thing of the past. The two part inner polycarbonate shell fits perfectly together on both the iPad 3rd Generation and the iPad 2. Yes, that’s right, I said the iPad 2. Now, the Defender case fits both. No need to worry about upgrading later, because OtterBox has you covered. So if you are waiting to get your retina screen goodness in the 3rd generation when the prices come down, you don’t have to worry, the new Defender case will move on with you. Everything on the inner polycarbonate components fit perfectly together and all hole openings aligned beautifully with both iPad versions.

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The second biggest design change is in the silicone overlay. Not only did OtterBox improve the silicone compound on the Defender case, they also made it much simpler and easier to install. The silicone compound is now harder than before and will last longer should you choose to remove your iPad from the case. Prior, the silicone sleeve would start to tear after prolonged use and length of service. OtterBox also streamlined it and did away with the horrible bottom opening flap for the sync and charging port. If you look back to my OtterBox Defender review for the iPad 2, you can see that it does not match up well and looks very bad. Now it is much simpler to install, looks fantastic, and will last a lot longer.

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The protective front cover has changed very little from a design standpoint but now includes to magnets that turn the iPad off when installed. this is handy feature found in most cases and a welcome addition. The front cover works great for me when traveling and I put my iPad into my travel bag. I know that it will be protected and should anything crush the travel case, the iPad screen will not be harmed. The front protective cover also has 4 rubberized feet on the bottom so when using it as a stand, the iPad will not slide.

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When used as a stand for your iPad, the front protective cover offers to positions to view or work on your iPad. The first is a laid back angle perfect for entering text from the keyboard or replying to emails while positioned on a desk or on your lap. The second position is for viewing media and makes for excellent landscape movie watching. Typing in this position, not so much. The iPad works in portrait mode only when stand straight up and would slide out each time I tried to use it on the more laid back positions of the stand.

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The OtterBox Defender Case for the New iPad also works with my favorite viewing stand, the DZ Dock. I posted a review on the DZ Dock that you can see here, so I was pleasantly surprised when the Defender Case for the iPad fit right in as you can see below. Another handy gadget that doesn’t have to go to waste!

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Conclusion

The second iteration of the OtterBox Defender for the iPad is a worth successor to the original but does have some things to remember before purchasing. First, the screen protector. I mentioned above that it is a welcomed edition to the newest Defender Case and it is. The problem is that it affects the quality of the retina screen noticeably. In fact reading Facebook it is very noticeable of a prism affect that it has. It also affects movie playback which is huge for me. Why did OtterBox do this? It’s for protection of course. Matter of fact it is for the ultimate in protection and that I what this case aims to do and achieves with high marks. But if you are a power media consumer, this case is not for you unless you travel a lot and want this level of protection and you are willing to remove it when you want to watch movies. It is a good thing that the new Defender case is a lot easier to install than before. the second issue remains the extra mass it adds to the iPad 3rd generation and second generation. I am used to it so it does not bother me, when I installed it on my wife’s iPad 2, she immediately complained. However, she quickly learned how valuable this case is when traveling and when she dropped it. The iPad was unharmed of course. She changed her tune after that and is not very satisfied with it. Now I have to get it back from her! The other thing to remember that the Defender Case for the iPad 2 and 3rd generation is pricey. It will set you back $90 bucks plus some shipping or tax if you buy it locally. Which means you got a Benjamin now invested into the protection of your iPad. Even with the above mentioned issues I have with the Defender Series Case, I still highly recommend it. It is as I say the ultimate in protection and includes a very handy stand for better usage of your device. I recommended a friend buy the iPad Defender Case for her son that received a iPad 2 for Christmas this year. She begrudgingly bought it and within days of her son opening it she called and let me know that he left it on the tailgate of their vehicle while getting in and they took off after forgetting about it. It was found in the driveway completely unharmed one the figured out it was missing. These sort of things happen more often that you think and the cheapest iPad 3rd Generation is of $500. So protecting that investment is pretty important. Head on over to OtterBox now to purchase if this seems like the right choice for you.

Pros

  • Ultimate in protection
  • New design is easier to install and remove, fits together better
  • Screen protector now built right in
  • Enhanced speaker sound
  • Two position stand is excellent and at the proper angles for typing sand viewing videos

Cons

  • Pricey at $89.95
  • Screen protector affects viewing quality especially on white backgrounds.
  • Heavy, takes some getting used to holding and carrying around

Rating: 4.25/5.00

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