Review: OtterBox iPad Case: Commuter and Defender Series

OtterBox has provided the latest in extreme protective cases for the klutzy and adventuresome for technology since 1998 and offered the Geeks a chance to test out their latest cases made for the hottest Geek toy – the iPad. We tested both the Defender and Commuter iPad OtterBox protective cases. The Defender Series provides protection for the most rugged of situations while the Commuter Series marries protection and style.

The rugged Defender Series iPad case provides defense in depth with three layers of protection including a self-adhering clear protective film, a polycarbonate shell and a silicone skin while providing access to the iPad buttons and ports plugged by silicone. Weighing in at 20.7 ounces with the shield (or 13.6 ounces without the shield) the device fully protected almost doubles in weight from 24 ounces to 44.7 ounces. Additionally, the Defender Series case bulks up the iPad by an additional .43 in x .42 in x .44 in. The Defender Series costs $89.95 from OtterBox or Amazon.

The OtterBox Defender iPad case provides an extremely protective case for the iPad. With the shield in place covering the screen, you would need to have malicious intent to break or scratch the iPad due to the three layers of protection, especially the polycarbonate and silicone layers. With the iPad protected by the Defender Series case, my daughter accidentally dropped the iPad first on a hard wooden floor and once on the edge of table which then fell to a carpeted floor and in both “tests” the iPad survived however I feel as if I lost a few days off my life!

Personally, I prefer the look of dressed down technology meaning more of a minimalistic approach concerning cases especially for my Apple products including the iPhone and iPad. The Defender Series almost adds a half an inch around the iPad and with the back cover snapped over the screen, you cannot see any part of the iPad. While this is great for protection, I prefer to not really alter the look and feel of the device.

Additionally while installing the Defender iPad case on the iPad, I found the process to be rather difficult. Again, this is great for protection as you don’t want the iPad to have too much play to jolt around, but if you don’t have patience you might want to perform the installation of the case by yourself and definitely outside the ears of young ones.

The stylish and protective Commuter Series iPad case only weighs 7.2 ounces and increases the protected iPad’s dimensions by .28 in x .26 in x .29 in with a total iPad plus case weight of 31.2 ounces. The smaller and lighter case provides three layers of protection including the self-adhering clear protective film, a silicone mid-layer and a one piece molded polycarbonate shell while continuing to provide access to ports and buttons. The Commuter Series iPad case costs $64.95 at Otterbox or Amazon.

While easier than the Defender Series case to install on the iPad, I still took some time and several iterations of reading the directions to figure out the install especially on the end with the power button. The good news is that once the iPad is in the case, you don’t need to remove! The other issue I encountered was that the device does not include a stand. If you have an Apple dock for the iPad, you can dock the device in the case, but the actual case does not have a stand of any sort.

Overall, the OtterBox Defender Series iPad Case provides the best protection in any case I’ve come across for the iPad. If you are klutzy and find that you drop, bump, or scratch your technology, you need this case because you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better case that allows you to actually use the iPad while protecting the device at the same time.

The OtterBox Commuter Series iPad case is made for the rest of us that don’t need that extreme protection that the Defender Series provides. Weighing only 7.2 ounces and adding about a quarter of an inch in dimension to the iPad, the case is much less noticeable than the Defender Series but provides ample protection for the standard person that manages to only occasional cause an accident.

(Disclaimer: Gizmos for Geeks received a complimentary review copy of this product.)

5 comments

    1. If you read the text, you can see the paragraph is referring to the Commuter, not the Defender.

  1. Great product. May have been new but no original packaging.We were thrilled that we received almost 4 days sooner than expected. Would order again!

  2. For the record, The Defender DOES have a stand, The Commuter DOES NOT. The article is written correctly and the comments simply confuse the situation. As an owner of both, I can verify everything the author has said is correct.
    In case you're wondering, the Defender adds substantial girth/weight to the iPad (2-3x's the weight? at least that's how it feels). The Defender basically makes the iPad as thick as your average laptop (and about as heavy). The Commuter is a much lighter alternative, but does not provide the super-ruggadized protection of the Defender.

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