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LifeProof Frē for iPad mini: Review and giveaway

Many people are finding that the iPad mini is the perfect combination of iPad power and light weight, so much so that the devices are finding use in a number of places where they can be exposed to inadvertent splashes, dirt and dust, extremes of hot or cold, and even dropped. LifeProof, the manufacturer of some of the best ruggedized iPhone and full-sized iPad cases on the planet, has just introduced the LifeProof Frē for iPad mini (US$99.99).

Design

For a case that can protect your iPad mini from a variety of calamities, the LifeProof Frē is surprisingly thin and lightweight -- about .66 inches (1.7 cm) at the thickest point, and weighing in at just 4.5 ounces (128 grams).

The Frē comes in two colors; black and white/gray. The back is covered by a transparent polycarbonate shell allowing water resistance while keeping the Apple logo visible. A similar, but thinner material keeps the screen protected from scratches, dirt, and water. A white or black bezel frames the iPad mini's display, and the rest of the case consists of gray or black polycarbonate.

Pretty much everything is kept sealed tight. There's a removable plug over the headphone jack, a door that snaps shut over the Lightning port, pass-throughs for all buttons, and a mesh over the speakers that lets sound out but keeps water at bay -- at least temporarily. When LifeProof says that the Frē is fully submersible up to 6.6 feet, they mean for a short time. You don't want to bring your iPad mini into the hot tub and use it as a foot prop; most likely, you'll see some leakage into the case after a while. The Frē is meant for protection from accidental dips and splashes, not full-time underwater use.

One final feature: LifeProof includes a detachable shoulder strap for the Frē. That's perfect if you wish to carry your iPad mini with you for capturing video or photos on a trip, but want to keep it protected from dust and weather.

Functionality

LifeProof water tests every case before it leaves the factory, but they recommend testing the seal at home prior to inserting your mini. To do so, you just snap the front and the back of the case together to ensure a tight seal, then close the headphone jack cover and charge port door. For the test, LifeProof suggests putting the case into a sink for 30 minutes with a coffee mug sitting on top to insure that it's not going to float. Once the time is up, you remove the case from the water, dry it off, open it up, and check for moisture. If it's dry, you can give your mini a new home; if it's wet, you want to contact LifeProof.

Installation is easy. Once the charge port door is open, it's possible to pull the top and bottom case parts apart. On each side are a number of plastic "fingers" that hold the case parts tightly together; they'll make a kind of unzipping sound as you pry the halves of the case apart.

Next, use the included cleaning cloth to get those icky fingerprints off of the mini before it's placed in the case. LifeProof reminds users to also remove any other screen protectors they may already have in place.

Slide in your iPad mini, making sure to align the camera with port on the back of the case, and then start squeezing the sides together until you have a tight seal all the way around.

It appears that LifeProof might be adding a Smart Cover-like accessory to the mini Frē, although it's not currently listed on the website. There's a listing in the owner's manual for an optional cover/stand, and a removable plastic strip on one side where it will be attached.

Conclusion

Anyone who needs the best possible protection for an iPad mini should invest in the LifeProof Frē for iPad mini. Like the company's other products, the Frē is solidly built, backed by a one-year warranty, and will definitely keep your investment safe regardless of where you choose to use your iPad mini.

Pros

  • Provides protection against snow, rain, accidental drops, dust and dirt
  • Excellent warranty
  • Pre-tested for watertightness
  • Built quality is best in the industry
  • Remarkably thin and lightweight for a tough protective case

Cons

  • None to speak of

Who is it for?

  • Anyone who wants to use an iPad mini while hiking, rock climbing, white water rafting, skiing, or just relaxing on the wet, sandy beach

Giveaway

It's summertime, and the perfect time to take that iPad mini with you anywhere you want to go. We're giving away a LifeProof Frē for iPad mini.

Here are the rules for the giveaway:

  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
  • The entry must be made before June 24, 2013 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected and will receive a LifeProof Frē case for iPad mini valued at $99.99
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

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