Do you just need something to make your iPad grippable and/or protect the screen? Do you need it HULK SMASH-proof? Do you want to attach to the back of car seats so kids can watch videos in the car? Do you want it to convert to a stand in both landscape and portrait mode? Do you want it to be gorgeous, and go incognito as a book? Do you want a built-in keyboard? Do you want a soft, pillow-like stand? Here are some of the cases we and our friends use, but your comments and suggestions are welcome.
Leo has two cases for his iPad 2. Our favorite is the ZooGue* ($49.99). Leo doesn't need a super-protective case, he needs one that makes the iPad easy to hold and use, so this works for us. The leather case is nice for gripping, it has a fold-over cover to protect the screen, and it uses velcro for stand positioning -- which means that no matter how hard Leo taps the screen, it won't fall over or dislodge. When I took Leo's iPad into a local Apple store, one of the Geniuses declared the ZooGue "the best iPad case I've ever seen!"
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Caveats: The ZooGue doesn't stand up in portrait mode for reading books or other documents. It also leaves the corners of the iPad exposed, and when Leo accidentally dropped his iPad on its corner on some concrete pavers, the screen shattered. But now that I've regained my composure, I suspect the issue was more the pavers than the cover.
Targus 360 ($60 - $65) instead. Also leather, also nice for gripping. With an elastic strap for keeping the cover shut, and which covers the iPad's corners.
But what if you need a substantial case, one that lets its tablet keep up with (and not become a casualty of) the enthusiasm of its owners? There are many options. Bay Area parent Laurel Miranda's daughter has worked her way through several case models, and now uses the Gumdrop Military Edition ($69.95). Laurel says,
"This case rocks, highly recommend it. The buttons are easy to push even though everything (even the screen) is encased in plastic or silicon. It's well designed. The only draw back is that the iPad is now really heavy and doesn't have a stand, but I can live with that!"The fallback you-can-almost-drive-a-truck-over-it case is the OtterBox Defender ($89), and I know many folks who use it (including Leo's class staff). It's a bit of a PITA to put on and take off, but it does the job, and it is very popular.
Caveats: Can be hard to get on and off, can make iPads clunky or heavy.
"The DODOcase cradles your iPad in a strong, yet eco-friendly bamboo tray. The multifunctional design allows you to use the case as a stand for typing or watching videos. The DODOcase's magnetic insert activates the iPad's auto wake/sleep feature to wake and sleep your iPad instantly."Leo does not have a DODOcase (this particular, artist edition case belongs to his father).
Caveats: Not for kids (kids like mine, anyhow). And even your best friends will try to steal your DODOcase when you're not looking.
The CushPad* ($34.95) is a good match for kids who like to use tablets on unstable surfaces like couches, bed, or floors -- though of course my kids are trend-buckers and use it on the counter. It can be used in portrait or landscape mode. It is nice and soft for resting in one's lap. It has a handle for hauling around. And ... it can be used with non-iPad tablets (You're looking at a Motorola Xoom. Blasphemy! The pictures was taken with an iPad, though.) It's nice for using when multiple children are using videos, as the kids are less inclined to be grabby.
My cousin and my father-in-law both have iPad cases with built-in keyboards like the one available from Brookstone ($74.99). I hate typing on an iPad itself, so if I was using the iPad for productivity or for teaching the kids to type, I'd consider this route before an accessory and therefore easily misplaced keyboard. I was pleasantly surprised by the slimness of these cases -- the keyboard adds almost no thickness.
Caveats: The keyboard needs to be charged separately, which is One More Thing. And these cases generally do not allow portrait mode, which is a bummer for some document modes.
What iPad/Tablet cases do you uses? If you use any of these, do you have a different opinion?
*The ZooGue and CushPad cases were gifted to Leo by their creators, but that has no bearing on our opinion here.