Today, we take a look at two very different tablet cases. One is made for a particular user for use with any variety of tablet or eReader, while the other is intended for the iPad 2 and a wide audience, though it appears to be a fit for a limited demographic. The first is a fully-enclosed, water-tight case for beachgoers, pool loungers, boaters, and other outdoor adventurers. The second is a Hard Candy case that might appeal to today’s youth.
DryCASE Tablet Water-Proof Case ($39.99)
The DryCASE tablet case from Dry Corp LLC is a fully sealed — vacuum sealed, in fact – case for the iPad and other similarly sized tablets or eReaders. It offers protection from the elements, namely sand and water. The case is really a plastic pouch that is air-tight and waterproof. While adding a layer of protection to your tablet, it also provides a flat surface to navigate a touchscreen while keeping the camera and headphone jack functional. If you spend your summers at the beach or on a lake, the DryCASE is an excellent investment at $59.99.
The top of the DryCASE has four small latches. Slide them into the open position and open the hard plastic clasp to slide in your iPad or other tablet, then move the four latches to their locked position (I’m starting to sound like a flight attendant). The pouch measures 9 inches wide by 12.5 inches tall. I tested it with an iPad 2 and had plenty of room on the top and the sides. A headphone jack resides at the bottom of the case, with a wire running up through the case, which you can connect to your tablet’s headphone jack. This lets you connect a mic or headphones to your tablet while still keeping it water tight. You will need to remove your iPad or tablet, however, to sync or charge it.
A one-way valve on the side lets you vacuum out the air with an included hand pump. After a couple pumps, the case drew in tight around the iPad, and I was easily able to press out any large bubbles on the display. The display remains readable, though I don’t think taking your beach reading in the form of a trashy eBook is the best use of the DryCASE.
The camera remains quite usable, however, as long as you ensure that the case is snug on the lens. And it’s clear on both sides, letting iPad 2 owners use both cameras. The home button and volume control on the side also remain functional, although the iPad’s side switch is difficult to maneuver through the DryCASE.
We tested the DryCASE by submerging it in a sink of water, and its contents remained dry.
The DryCASE also includes a neoprene arm band, though I’m not sure how many people will want to walk around with a tablet strapped to their arm. Perhaps the arm band comes in handy if you find yourself in a situation where you must swim with your iPad or tablet. (A smaller $39.99 DryCASE for the iPhone, iPod, and smartphones would seem to be a better bet for wearing on your arm.) Two lanyards are also included, which attach to the case’s top clasp.
The DryCASE is backed with a one-year, money-back warranty. The warranty, however, doesn’t cover replacing any electronics that may have suffered water damage while in the DryCASE’s care. As Dry Corp LLC explains on its FAQ page, “We cannot assume responsibility for wet devices otherwise people could send or return all their old electronics to us.” Seems reasonable. Just make sure that when you vacuum seal your tablet or eReader, you wait a few minutes before plunging into a body of water. If you don’t notice any air entering the case, then it’s safe to assume the seal is air- and water-tight.
Hard Candy Street Skin ($39.95)
The Hard Candy Street Skin case for the iPad 2 provides protection for Apple’s tablet, but to this reviewer’s eyes, its style is lacking. The Street Skin is made from TPU rubber, a harder material than silicon. The $39.95 case fits snugly around the iPad 2, but installation isn’t too difficult. A little effort is needed to get the last corner in place is all. And when you want to conduct a bit of housecleaning to remove dust and dirt from inside the case, it’s also easy to slip the iPad 2 out from the case for a quick cleaning.
The TPU rubber material feels rugged and doesn’t stretch to too great a degree; it should protect your iPad 2 from bumps, bruises, scratches, and short drops. The Street Skin, however, isn’t a fully enclosed case. The case has cutouts so that the two cameras, the volume and lock/mute buttons, the docking connector, and the speaker remain unobstructed. For most, the convenience of freely accessed buttons and ports outweighs the added protection a completely sealed case provides.
The Street Skin features a hinged screen cover that can be attached in the opposite two corners from the hinges with ball-and-socket fasteners. The cover can be folded back and attached to the same fasteners, preventing the cover from flapping around during use.
Available in white, black, and pink, the Street Skin features a textured pattern that resembles the tread of a running shoe. On first glance, the case might be considered somewhat stylish — call it Asics chic — though I think it makes the iPad 2 look juvenile. It looks like something you might see in a school cafeteria rather than a cafe or a board room. But, hey, given the rate at which tastes change in youth culture (and, yes, I feel old typing those words), perhaps the Street Skin is the epitome of cool. I can’t say either way; when I was in high-school, the Internet didn’t exist, let alone iPads and iPad cases.
The bigger problem with the Street Skin is its feel. The edges of the raised sections of the pattern are very sharp, creating a surface that is not the most comfortable to hold. The feel of the sharp-edged pattern is an egregious offense when it envelops something as sleek and smooth as the iPad 2.
While its style is up for debate — though I will say my wife, lending a female perspective, did not like the look or feel of the Street Skin either — Hard Candy’s Street Skin does not have a good feel, preventing our recommendation.