Review: Ballistic Tough Jacket Case for iPad 2

The concept of an ultra-protective, drop-proof tough case for your iPhone makes sense to most people, as the iPhone is small, a little slippery, and is probably taken in and out of your pocket 100 times a day, or jostled around in a car cup-holder as you drive, or taken to the track while you attempt to complete one of the various “Couch to 5K” apps (which I have never stuck with past week 4). The iPhone is an “active” device, and therefore quite prone to drops if you are not careful, so yes, a tough case makes sense. However, the iPad, at least at first glance, shouldn’t need such protection, right? After all, it’s mainly kept in your house, left on your coffee table or night stand next to a cushy bed. There’s a sense of “calm” about it. It feels like you should sip tea while slowly reading the day’s news on it, sock-clad feet curled under you in a big, gushy chair, and Lord knows you certainly aren’t going to go running at the track with it, right?

Well, yes, in an ideal world, that is how YOU would use your iPad. However, since buying my first iPad a couple years ago, I quickly learned that I was not going to be using it AT ALL. My kids were. And kids do two things with iPads – First, the leave them precariously balanced on the armrests of whatever couch or chair they were sitting in while they were playing Angry Birds when they get up to grab a yogurt or something, AND second, when they come back they jump on that couch or chair (with their yogurt). It’s a recipe for a sticky, cracked disaster. So while I agree in a perfect world the iPad would never need to hide its sleek design behind a fortress of rubber, if you have kids, you need to protect it.

Ballistic has made quite a name for itself when it comes to providing drop protection to iOS devices, and their Tough Jacket Case for iPad 2 is another strong offering. Like most of their cases, the Tough Jacket is a multi-layer protection system, although I found you really only need to use 2 of the 3 layers in daily life. Layer 1 is the inner silicone layer, designed to absorb the shock of an impact or fall, and in theory if you wanted you could probably even get away with just using this layer, as it provides 80% of the protection. Layer 2 is an impact-resistant hard plastic shell that covers most of the 1st layer, save for the corners. The majority of the backside of Layer 2 (the part you would usually place on a table) has another thin rubber plate across it with a nice texture that helps make it slip-resistant on smooth surfaces. This is good news for all of you who live on houseboats or in RVs, as it should help keep your iPad on a table top. Layer 3 is yet ANOTHER shock-absorbent plastic layer, and this one just clamps on (to the top and bottom edge of the iPad when held vertically), and serves two purposes. It can actually be clipped on either the back OR the front of the iPad, meaning when traveling you can use it to cover up the screen, which is nice for throwing the iPhone into a laptop bag or suitcase without worrying too much about its safety. But layer 3 can also be clipped onto the back of the case, and it has a fairly sturdy kickstand that folds out and allows you to easily watch videos without having to hold it.

The case is available in both black, and red and black, with the overall the design coming across feeling quite sporty (the red more so).

By far the best feature of the case is the design of the black rubber of layer 1. The corners of the layer one are oversized, and quite thick, which not only means they provide good impact resistance, but they are also thick enough that even if you lay your iPad face-down, the screen will never come in contact with the table top.


Issues

Honestly, this is pretty much the case I feel that I would have designed for the iPad, and I really didn’t have any issues. Yes, it is thicker and heavier than a simple silicone sleeve, but you should expect that going in. I found I didn’t really like the way the case feels in my hand with Layer 3 on, but I pretty much found that layer unnecessary, save for peace-of-mind while traveling. It’s also quite hard to snake a power cord through the clips on Layer 3, but without it it is a snap, and all necessary ports are open, which is good, unless someone spills grape juice on it, so do not expect water-proof protection here, this is an impact-only situation. The one thing I could see someone looking for might be if Ballistic had thrown in one of those thin film screen protectors, but honestly, applying those has been the bane of my existence wince the first iPhone, and the raised rubber corners of the Tough Jacket will likely eliminate the majority of “scratch-creating” situations.

Conclusion

The Ballistic Tough Jacket Case for iPad is the best combination of kid-proof protection and style we’ve seen, without adding too much in the way of clunkiness or bulk to the iPad. It comes highly recommended.

Price: $69.99 (although it can be gotten for as low as $33 on Amazon)
Pros: Great protection, sporty look, versatile layer system with screen-protecting kickstand outter layer
Cons: Non significant

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