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New OtterBox Reflex Series case for iPad 2

Over the years, I've had the opportunity to try out a number of products from OtterBox. The company, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, is well known for their protective cases for iOS and other devices. The company has four main series of products: the Defender, a multi-layer design which is designed for rough conditions; the Reflex, which uses a lighter design that emulates the automobile crumple zone concept for protection; the Commuter, which is designed for protection from day-to-day drops and scrapes; and the Impact, which is made up of simple silicone sleeves. OtterBox is about to ship the new Reflex series case for iPad 2 (US$69.95), and I had a chance to try it out. Read on for more details on this new iPad 2 case.

Design

As with all of the OtterBox cases in the Reflex series, the iPad 2 case is lightweight protection. The case consists of what appears to be a polycarbonate shell with a stiff, flexible material around most of the sides and corners of the iPad 2. That material flexes on impact and then returns to its original shape, protecting the iPad 2 while not adding a lot of bulk to the case.

The case itself comes in two pieces that slide onto the top and bottom of the iPad 2. As you'd expect, there are openings for the speaker, the Dock connector, the headphone jack, the microphone, the camera, and the mute / orientation lock switch. Two other buttons -- the volume toggle and the on/off/sleep/wake button -- are covered by more of the flexible material. There's a slight bulge on the case over the lower two corners of the iPad 2, which provides a outlet over the lower right corner to channel sound from the iPad's speaker.

To provide screen protection while in transit, there is a screen shield / stand made of a combination of clear polycarbonate and the flexible material. The cover frankly doesn't look that attractive, but when the goal is to protect your iPad screen from damage, who cares about looks? OtterBox also throws in a stick-on screen protection film and screen buffing cloths.

The screen shield doubles as a stand; to do so, you take it off, bend it slightly, and then insert a tab into a slot in the cover. It takes only a few seconds to set the stand up, after which the iPad can be placed on it in any of several different orientations.

OtterBox cases always feel sturdy, and the Reflex series for iPad 2 is no exception. I personally like the fact that it's providing very good impact protection without adding either bulk or weight to the iPad 2. With the case on, the iPad 2 / Reflex combo weighs in at about 1 lb., 15 ounces, while the iPad 2 weighs 1 lb., 5 ounces on its own.

Functionality

Hey, it's an OtterBox. Of course it's going to protect your iPad 2 like a junkyard dog! I did not deliberately drop my iPad 2 to test it, but looking at the various videos on the OtterBox site that show how the case technology works, I have little doubt that the iPad would survive just about any situation that I could put it into.

The case was a cinch to put on and take off -- when I was weighing the iPad with and without the case, it took me about 5 seconds to take it off and another 10 seconds to put it back on. The "ears" on the case cover flex just enough to make snapping the cover onto the front of the iPad easy (note: you can also stow the cover on the back of your iPad).

The stand capability is great, as it holds the iPad in both a "keyboard" tilt and a "movie-watching" position. Those two positions cover about 95% of my iPad stand use cases, so I'm set. The only negative I can really think about the Reflex series case is that it doesn't provide water resistance, but there are splash proof cases available from other vendors if that's a requirement for you.

Conclusion

For those who are seeking a higher level of protection for their iPad 2 than can be accomplished by clothing it in most cases, the Reflex series case from OtterBox will make your day. If you think that you need even more protection, the company's $89.95 Defender case offers two layers of protection that keep your iPad 2 safe under just about any conditions.

OtterBox makes fine products, and the Reflex case for iPad 2 is another example of the company's commitment to excellence in design and manufacturing. The case will be available within the next few weeks, and interested iPad owners can sign up to be notified when the site is open for ordering.

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