A month or so ago, I was in a little surf shop on a quiet Sunday afternoon, when the 5 or 6 year old daughter of the owner started telling me about how her dad put his iPad underwater. At first, I thought she didn’t know what she was talking about, but as it turns out, the shop was selling waterproof iPad cases – perfect for the demographic that spends a lot of time in and around the water- and the guy submerged them to prove that they actually worked. When I saw it, I was thinking that it’s tough design would be great for a classroom – where tough iPad cases are a necessity.
When talking about iPad covers for the classroom, cheap and simple are often the way many choose to go. Which is understandable – if you’re outfitting a class of 20 students, the cost difference between a $30 case for each one and a $90 case is $1200! (multipled by say, ten classrooms is $12K! Not a small number, especially in education-budget-land). But cheap and simple doesn’t cut it if you’ve got a classroom full of eight year olds who aren’t very gentle with the devices. So budget be damned, we’re going to look at some tough iPad cases that are made to withstand what your students can dish out. Because, as all too many of us know, a broken iPad is pretty useless.
The LifeProof nüüd is the case that I saw being submerged that day in the surf shop. It turns out, that this little guy is way more than just waterproof. It is also snow proof and dirt proof, and is designed to withstand a 4 foot military drop (or as my friend Peter called it when we were in college “gravity testing”). You can fully submerge it to 6 feet, and it should still be a-ok! It also has a ‘sound enhancement’ system’ to ensure that the sounds of your multimedia aren’t lost in a bulky case, and you can still use the device for all that you wanted it for in the first place. With the nüüd, the screen isn’t behind a bulky covering as you might imagine it would be, so the touchscreen experience and functionality isn’t diminished. This case goes for about $99, and there are a ton of add on accessories, too.
The Survivor is built to ‘meet or exceed US Department of Defense Standard 810F, Griffin’s Survivor Military-Duty Case is designed from the inside out to protect your iPad from extreme conditions … dirt, sand, rain, shock, vibration and a host of other environmental factors’ (according to their website). You can drop it from 6 feet, let it get rained on for an hour, or blast it with sand, and your iPad should be ok. It doesn’t say anything about fully submersing the iPad and case though, so we wouldn’t try it. At $79.99, it also comes in more than 10 colors, too.
I can’t lie – I really enjoy the name of this one. iBallz speaks to my weird enjoyment of adding an unnecessary Z to the end of random words, but the product also speaks for itself. By far the cheapest case we’re looking at in this post ($24.95), they offer great protection against what is the classroom iPad’s greatest threat – dropping. The rubber-y balls on the corners of the device enable it to ‘bounce back’ if it is dropped. Bonus: they offer discounts to schools, shipping is free in the US, and you get to tell people that your classroom iPads have “iBallz (with a Z!) on them.
I think that at this point, the OtterBox Defender is pretty well known, if not best for it’s iPhone version. For the iPhone, it seems to the the product of choice for people who know they are apt to drop and otherwise subject them to less than ideal conditions. At $89.95, they come in six colors, and offer protection against drops, bumps, dings, and dirt. It does not protect against water as some of the others do, so if that is important to you, skip over this one. It has inner and outer shells to offer great protection, and includes a protective screen cover to ward off scratches.
Fact: You can name anything ‘extreme’ and it instantly becomes more awesome. For the G-Form Extreme Portfolio, you only need to look at the case to know that the word is not just a superlative, this thing actually IS extreme. There’s even a video on the company’s website showing the case taking the impact of a baseball from a pitching machine. Serious stuff. While it may be able to withstand crazy stuff (and is waterproof too), the downside of this particular model is that you need to open it up to use the device. You do, however, have a few different options for how to use the device with the cover opened (so you’re not necessarily doomed to have the flapping cover open while you’re trying to get something done), and the screen is still protected while the case is opened. Comes in yellow and black and sells for $89.99.