For the past two and a half weeks or so I have been thoroughly testing a Ballistic Hard Case for iPad that Skippy was sent to review by GearZap.com. As the iPad is mine I have been the one using it most therefore I am the one writing the review.
Since I bought the thing about 4 months ago my iPad has been pretty much everywhere I’ve been which means anything I wrap around it is going to be going there too so robust is not so much a plus as a must.
If there’s one thing the Ballistic Hard Case definitely is, it’s robust. This is no subtle case, you know it’s there and it increases the weight of your beautiful iPad quite a lot that said I could probably throw it across the room inside it without any harm occurring to the pad which is its major function.
The case consists of two layers: a rubber inner with huge bash proof corners and a hard plastic outer which slips over the top. It’s not the kind of thing I would take to a business meeting (unless I were having it on a building site) but it’s not meant to look pretty. It’s not the worlds most offensive case either so there are swings and roundabouts here.
The case was quite tricky to put in place initially so haven’t attempted swapping it in the time I have been testing it. The rubber sheath is quite tight and the plastic layer has to be hooked into just the right place to keep the whole lot secure. In the end, Skippy did this for me as I couldn’t make it go in properly (not a great start).
The volume control and screen lock buttons are covered in rubber which makes them a little difficult to find sometimes (if I was using the iPad in the dark for example I found myself having to search the edges for the screen lock), while the mute/rotation lock button is housed in a cut out – I have relatively small fingers and generally, some fingernail which meant that this didn’t cause much of a problem for me however I suspect it would be more difficult (if not impossible) for larger fingered people and/or those without fingernails (Skippy) to use. This can be got around by using the soft keys hidden in the menu, but it would be a workaround rather than a solution.
The third piece of the case is the screen protector, a solid piece of plastic that hooks on at either end, when not in use you can flip it over, and clip it to the back of the iPad so you don’t lose it. If you get it the right way around (either on the front or the back of the iPad) you can plug the pad in to charge without removing it, however, it only has a charge hole at one end and it’s basically symmetrical which means you have to pay attention when you attach it. Even if you do manage to get the case around the right way actually getting the dock connector into the space left by the cover is quite a difficult thing to do. It requires careful placement of the connector in the hole and to remove it you have to yank it out by the cable (not something I’m very comfortable doing)
There’s also a hole for the camera, again only if you get it the right way round though. I found getting the screen protector on and off a little problematic (as did my friend 12-year-old son who kept forgetting that you had to use two hands to take it off) the two-handed thing was an issue for me too. In order to take the screen protector off safely, the iPad had to be held over a surface such as your lap so that it had something to fall on to as you can’t take the protector off one-handed. It also didn’t always clip onto the back properly meaning that you’d pick the thing up and it would fall off.
The screen protector also houses a bracket an arrangement which is useful for standing the thing up if you’re watching a film or a presentation but doesn’t really offer you a variety of angles so typing has to be done on the flat (I prefer to put the pad on a slight slope for typing). The bracket is a little fiddly to use, it seems to require you to put a fingernail under it and prize it open then change hand position, grip the sides and slide it down however, once in place it’s actually sturdier than it looks and the iPad feels lovely and secure.
I haven’t at any point during the trial of the Ballistic Hard Case got so fed up with it that I took it off which is always a good sign, the longer I used it though the more I could see that there was room for improvement in the design.
If you’re looking for a highly robust case that looks good and will protect your iPad from falls of up to a couple of meters (please note I haven’t actually tested this, I don’t have £400 to spend on a new pad if it goes wrong!) this is probably the one to go for.
The 12-year-old’s mother loves this case as it means she doesn’t have to worry that her children (the other is 9) will drop my iPad and break it – they wouldn’t anyway but she worries that they might so I have partly left it on for her benefit.
It’s a great way to childproof or dyspraxic proof your technology (my 2-year-old niece could happily play with my iPad while it was wearing this and I wouldn’t be in the slightest bit concerned about it [end ok, I might if she wanted to take it in the bath with her]). However, it does take a bit of getting used to as the buttons have to be pressed harder than usual and some of the operations require a greater degree of fine motor control than is entirely convenient especially if you’ve put your iPad into this case so that it can be used in the great outdoors.