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iPad Cases for 2011 (2/2011)
by Douglas Dixon
There were lots of TVs and tablets and even major appliances on display at this year's CES conference, but the fastest-growing exhibition area was the iLounge Pavilion, with over 200 companies showing iPad, iPhone, and iPod accessories and other iStuff.
Some 70 new tablet products were introduced at CES, but the iPad was still the star. In particular, the iPad cases on display showed amazing inventiveness -- some were beautiful, or fun, or downright silly. Here's a sampling.
ZAGG invisibleSHIELD for iPads - Scratch and Fingerprint Protection
I'm a big fan of screen protectors, especially for cell phones that rattle around in my pocket with keys. For example, the ZAGG invisibleSHIELD line includes screen (and body) protectors from devices ranging from handheld cell phones, PDAs, iPods and other media players -- to portable gaming devices, digital cameras, and GPS devices -- to laptop computers and even watches.
And for the hot gifts of the holiday season, the invisibleSHIELD screen and body protectors are also available for E-book readers including the Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook -- plus protection for the hottest gift of the season, the Apple iPad.
The iPad screen is really beautiful, but the reflective surface picks up finger smudges and makes them very visible, which is a bit icky when showing off your new device.
Apple Support recommends cleaning the iPad screen with a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth, or with an isopropyl alcohol solution.
Instead, you can use a screen protector like the invisibleSHIELD to both protect the display from scratches and to make it easier to clean.
The invisibleSHIELD material itself is scratch and abrasion resistant, and even self-healing. In addition, the film has a subtle texture, which provides a more secure grip.
The result on the iPad is that the screen still looks great and responds as usual to finger presses and movements, but no longer has the glossy look with highly visible finger smudges, so I no longer need to carry around a cloth to to regularly wipe the screen. The invisibleSHIELD also reduces glare for easier viewing in difficult environments.
invisibleSHIELD is available in over 5,000 designs for different electronic devices. Designs for the iPad are available at $29.99 for the front or back and $39.99 for the full body. A smaller device like the iPhone is priced at $14.99 for front or back protection and $24.99 for the full body. All come with a 45 day money-back guarantee and a lifetime replacement warranty.
For more fun, ZAGGskins combine the invisibleSHIELD material with customized high-quality images and designs. You can use one of the pre-existing designs or upload your own.
Etch A Sketch Case for iPad
For example, there's the Etch A Sketch Case from HeadCase, an officially licensed replica of your favorite childhood drawing pad, available for the iPad ($39) and iPhone / iPod touch ($24).
It's a hard case made from impact resistant ABS plastic in that familiar shiny red. The front and back snap together. You then pry them apart with a coin (dime) using two slots on the side.
The case has slots for all the switches, ports, and buttons on your device. The front is thick enough that you need to press down a bit harder to reach the bottom Home button. The back (in black) has tabs to raise the iPad for typing, and even has hole in center that displays the Apple logo, in case you're not sure what's inside the case.
And no, the two white Etch A Sketch dials on the bottom are just decorative, they do not turn.
It supports multi-touch so you can rotate both knobs at once to draw jagged diagonal-ish lines. And yes, you shake the iPad to erase the screen (just be real careful you don't drop it). Unlike the real thing, you even can save your wonderful drawings.
Find the Etch A Sketch Case for iPad on Amazon.com
Macally BookStand - Minimalist iPad Cover and Stand
The Macally product line includes accessories for iPad, iPhone, iPod, and notebooks, as well as input devices, including keyboards, mice, game controllers, webcams, and USB hubs.
There are a variety of covers and cases to protect your portable devices, hard and soft, clear, silicon, and chrome, as well as folder-style cases and stands.
My favorite is the Macally BookStand microfiber cover and stand for the iPad, a clean and minimalist design that protects your device without adding bulk. The insides have a soft microfiber finish to shelter your precious.
The iPad snaps into the stiff back at the four corners, leaving all the controls and slots fully available. The front cover then folds over to protect the screen, with a leather slide-in tab to hold it tight. And the cover is jointed (like the Apple case) to fold back to serve as a viewing stand, held in place with the same tab.
The result is clean and simple -- form-fitting protection from incidental contact, as when packed in a bag, with minimal added size or thickness or weight (it actually fits inside the Apple case).
The Macally BookStand Microfiber Cover and Stand for the iPad is available for $29 (street $19), in black, gray, sand, orange, and green.
Find the Macally BookStand for iPad on Amazon.com
Speck PixelSkin for iPad
Speck has some original designs for protective cases and bags for popular portable electronic devices, from smartphones to laptops.
To protect your iPad, one smart design is the PixelSkin Case for iPad, a soft-touch textured silicone case with a grid of square "pixels" for a comfortable and secure grip. (Yes, they're really big "pixels," fitting the slogan -- "5 DPI Never Looked So Good!")
The PixelSkin fits snugly around the iPad, wrapping around the front to hold the frame around the screen. It's available for the iPod for $39.95, in black, indigo, and green, and for the iPhone for $29.95, also in an HD version with finer pixelation.
Find the Speck PixelSkin on Amazon.com
Speck PixelShield for iPad
Or to pack up your iPad when travelling, there's the Speck PixelShield Carry Sleeve for iPad. Just slip your iPad in the slot and it's fully enclosed, and ready to go with the integrated handle.
The design has a textured neoprene exterior, with one flexible side for the slot and the other firm reinforced side to protect the screen, plus a soft micro-fleece interior lining. The PixelShield is available for the iPod for $39.95, in black and red.
There's also a zippered PixelSleeve for other tablets and netbooks up to 10 inches, and PixelSleeve Plus for iPad.
Find the Speck PixelShield on Amazon.com
FreeOneHand iPad Holder & Stand
The FreeOneHand iPad Holder & Stand is a clever approach for using the iPad for extended periods.
Tablets, of course, just are too big and too heavy to hold up in one hand for easy reading like a smartphone. So you end up having to shift your sitting position, or rest them awkwardly on your stomach, or hold them in two hands while trying to brace your arms.
The FreeOneHand changes this completely. It clips onto the four corners of the iPad, with a two-inch pedestal in the back for holding the iPad comfortably with just one hand. For example, you can grip the post securely in your fist, or cup it in your palm in your lap, or hold it between your split fingers.
As a result, you can hold the iPad comfortably for extended use, and, of course, your other hand is free for easier typing, or to reach for your coffee without having to put the iPad down. And the FreeOneHand is very useful for presentations, since again you can hold up and display your device, and even have a hand free for pointing.
The base also works as an iPad stand or easel, in portrait or landscape mode. And the corner grips even extend out from the surface to protect your screen if you put the iPad face down on a table.
The FreeOneHand iPad Holder & Stand is available for around $39, in ebony, ivory, silver, lime green, sky blue, and rose pink.
Find the FreeOneHand iPad Holder on Amazon.com
Multi-Use TabGrip for iPad
The TabGrip for iPad is something different from protective cases. Instead, it's designed as a multi-functional holder and stand to make using the iPad easy and comfortable.
The TabGip is basically four arms of flexible rubberized plastic with grips that snap onto the middle of each side of the iPad.
The grips are textured and rubberized, for a more convenient and more secure hold whether you are using or carrying your tablet.
The outer sides of the grips are also hinged, and swing open to become stands to position the iPad for typing or for display, in portrait or landscape orientation.
The grips and rubberized back also protect the back of your iPad when it's being handled or put down.
The TabGrip is currently available for $39.99, in classic black. It's a clever design for people who use their iPad a lot, in many different positions and orientations -- standing up and sitting down, in motion for gaming or on a table for typing.
Find the TabGrip for iPad on Amazon.com
Breffo Spiderpodium and SpiderpodiumTablet
The Breffo Spiderpodium lives up to its name as a multi-purpose gadget grip and podium to holster, dock, and display your compact handheld device, including smartphones, cell phones, portable media players, and game systems.
Its eight soft-touch rubberized notched legs flex and bend into any position, to grip your device securely and then set it at virtually any angle, in any position, in any location.
You can set up the Spiderpodium to view on a desk or table, hook or hang it in a car, or wrap it on a bike or backpack to go. And it spreads down flat for storage and travel.
The original Spiderpodium for handheld devices has legs that reach approximately 8 inches, and is available for $19.99 in white or black. There's also a larger SpiderpodiumTablet for the iPad and other tablet devices, for $34.99 in grey or black.
Find the Breffo Spiderpodium on Amazon.com
Joby GorillaMobile Yogi for iPad
The Joby GorillaMobile Yogi for iPad brings the now-familiar GorillaPod flexible legs to the iPad, giving you great flexibility in stabilizing and positioning your tablet as you like it.
The Yogi starts with a protective polycarbonate case with rubber bumper edges that snaps on the back of your iPad to protect it from shocks and falls.
The flexible legs can be detached for storage with the quick-release clip, or can be attached on the short or longer sides for portrait or landscape viewing.
Then the fun begins, as you can twist and bend the legs to use your iPad in some rather unexpected positions -- standing or leaning, adjusted for uneven surfaces, or even wrapped around fixtures or hanging down.
The Yogi is good for positing the screen for shared viewing, and for finding a comfortable set-up for extended typing. It's available for $49.94, with white case and black legs.
See my Digital Cameras Gallery for more on the Joby GorillaPod line and other tripods and supports for cameras and other devices
Find the Joby GorillaMobile Yogi on Amazon.com
Jobi GorillaMobile Ori Transforming Case / Stand
Not content with bringing the GorillaPod idea of flexible and adjustable legs to the iPad with the GorillaMobile Yogi case / stand, Jobi has extended this theme to the case itself with the Jobi GorillaMobile Ori protective metal case that transforms into a multi-position stand.
You start by snapping the iPad into the Ori's plastic frame with rubberized protective edges. The back is mounted on hinged cover made of a light silver aluminum / polypropylene composite that fold ups around the iPad as a folio for travel.
And then the fun begins, as the Ori (think "origami") has pop-out tabs and hinges and rotating mounts to adjust into a variety of positions.
The GorillaMobile Ori offers extreme flexibility in a solid but light protective case for $79.95, with lots of options for setting up your iPad for comfortable use, and for sharing with a group.
Find the Joby GorillaMobile Ori on Amazon.com
iTatch Lanyards for iPads and iPhones / iPods
All these cases and screen protectors are great for protecting your portable devices from bumps and scratches in your pocket or bag, and can save the day when you accidentally drop your device. But wouldn't it be better to not drop it in the first place?
So here's a simple solution, especially for people who are constantly working with their smartphone or tablet: the iTatch Lanyards -- with a suction cup on the end to hold on tight to your handheld device, even when you don't.
Just slip the lanyard around your neck, and attach the suction cup to secure your iPhone, iPod, iPad, or other smartphone, phone or portable device.
There's the iTatch for iPhones/iPods for $9.95, with a roughly 20-inch lanyard and 1-inch suction cup for smaller handheld devices.
And the iTatch EBook Anchor for $14.95 has a longer lanyard and significantly bigger 3 1/4-inch suction cup for iPads, E-book readers, and larger and heavier tablet-sized devices.
The lanyards have a snap-off anchor near the base so you can remove your device when needed. They're available in blue, red and black with white text, or gray, white, black and green with black text
For more fun, try out the iTatch Puppy Anchor for $14.95 -- You can restrain your (smallish) pup in the kitchen by applying the suction cup to the refrigerator or dishwasher, or on the go by quickly attaching to a store window!
Find the iTatch Lanyards on Amazon.com
Speck CandyShell Grip for iPod touch
These days the Apple iPod touch seems the be more like an iPad mini, since you can run all your same apps, and music and videos and photos and even books synced from iTunes, plus connect to the Web and email and more over Wi-Fi. But Apple also likes to promote the touch as "the most popular portable game player in the world."
In thinking about cases for our devices. then, instead of worrying about protection from external elements, maybe we should focus more on protection from our own exuberance.
So Speck has developed a specialized version of its CandyShell case, the Speck CandyShell Grip for iPod touch (4th gen).
This is flexible rubberized case that snaps on the back of your iPod touch. It has a hard shell skeleton frame across the back and around the sides, with a rubberized interior for shock protection.
The rubberized back is ridged for a solid grip, and there's also a small strip on each corner, and bump-outs at the top and bottom of the side edge bezels to help position your thumb for pressing virtual buttons on the touch screen.
The Speck CandyShell Grip is available for $34.95 in black or white.
Speck Time To Rock for iPod nano
Apple also reimagined its iPod nano in its 6th generation, as a tiny clip-on music player with a square touch screen.
But instead of clipping it on, you can strap the nano on with the Speck Time To Rock wristband for iPod nano (6th gen), which turns your nano into a music watch. Just pop the nano into the protective frame, complete with rubberized button covers, and strap up.
It also includes a headphone cord management armband to help route the headphone out of the way up your arm.
The new nano is focused on music playback, and the Speck Time To Rock offers a new way to conveniently carry, and access, your music, for $24.95.
Find the Speck CandyShell Grip on Amazon.com
Be A Headcase - Bottle and Can Opener Case for iPhone
Moving from sensible and fun iPad cases further out towards fun and crazy, here's the Be A Headcase Bottle and Can Opener Case.
No, really -- It's a bottle and can opener in a case for your iPhone or Blackberry, complete with embedded stainless steel bottle opener and tab for opening cans.
This is a hard shell protective case that fits on the back of your iPhone. It has an outer rubberized coating to secure your grip while working with those cold and wet drinks.
The Bottle and Can Opener Case is available in pink, or plain black for more subtle bottle popping, with models for the iPhone 3G and 3GS for $19.99, and the iPhone 4 and BlackBerry (coming soon) for $24.99.
And there's more -- You can download the free Be A HeadCase App for the iPhone that senses when you open a bottle or can and counts your drinks. It also displays a selected picture and plays a song or sound to celebrate -- the provided sound effects include "Funky Monkey" and "Annoying Mother In-Law." Or upload your own favorites to share with others.
Find the Be A Headcase Bottle and Can Opener Case on Amazon.com