If someone is going to put up with the extra bulk that comes with a rugged case, having one loaded with extra features is a real bonus. The Kensington BlackBelt 2nd Degree Rugged Case can not only protect a tablet from drops, it also includes a multi-position kickstand and a strap, which makes the computer easier to lug around.
Prices range from $44.99 to $59.99, depending on tablet model.
Build and Design
When enclosed in the BlackBelt 2nd Degree, the four corners of the tablet are protected by rubber. Kensington says the case meets military-grade MIL-STD-810G testing protocols for all-around protection against drops, so it should help prevent damage from day-to-day bumps and blows.
Kensington also includes a screen protector to ward off scratches. In addition, if the tablet is placed or dropped face down, a rubber bezel is intended to hold the display up off the ground, table, etc.
It should be noted that the BlackBelt 2nd Degree is not waterproof, nor is at rated to protect against dust. This is because there are cutouts for the front and rear cameras of whichever device it’s designed for, as well as openings for the charging port, speakers, and more.
This includes a slot in the Surface Pro 4 version for the Microsoft Type Cover, which can be closed down over the screen or flipped around to the back with the Windows device still in the case. The SP4 version also includes a clip to hold the Surface Pen. None of the iPad versions include stylus holders, though.
The iPad Air 2 version of this case is 10 x 7.2 x 0.7 inches, and it weighs 0.85 pounds, so it adds considerably to the bulk of this computer.
There’s a multi-position stand on the various iPad versions of this accessory. With the push of a slider, a polycarbonate plate swivels open. This is well braced and provides a stable platform to hold up the tablet. It offers two angles, one that’s at about 50° that is right for typing, and the second at roughly 20º that’s good for drawing.
The back of the Surface Pro 4 version of this hardcase is mostly open to expose this tablet’s built-in stand, so it wasn’t necessary for Kensington to add one.
Every version of the BlackBelt 2nd Degree includes a rubber strap that makes it easy to hold onto the tablet with one hand, freeing the other to tap on the screen.
On our test unit for the iPad Air 2, this strap is well placed so it can be used by either right-handed or left-handed people. The size of the strap is right for small or medium-size hands, resulting in a snug and secure fit, but it’s possible that people with larger hands might find it too small.
On the Surface Pro version, the strap had to be moved to one side to make room for the tablet’s built-in stand, so it’s a better fit for right-handed people than it is for lefties.
The Kensington BlackBelt 2nd Degree is more than just a rugged case: it makes the tablet it’s protecting more useful, whether sitting on a desk or held in the hand. The design is good and the product is well built, as is expected from a reputable company like this one.
It seems well-suited for use in an office or classroom by people who are nervous about dropping their expensive computer, or on a job site as long as the conditions aren’t too extreme.
The Surface Pro 4 version of the BlackBelt 2nd Degree sells for $59.99, the iPad Air and iPad Air 2 versions are $49.99 each, and the iPad mini version is $44.99.
For comparison, the Otterbox Defender case for the iPad Air 2 sells for $80.95, and the iPad mini version is $69.95. These don’t have the hand strap or the built-in stand like the Kensington offering, but they do have Otterbox’s reputation for making extremely protective cases.