LifeProof's frē case for iPad Air just what the doctor ordered if you're one of those people who uses your tablet in conditions that would void your warranty in a heartbeat. If you need a totally water- and shock-proof case for your device, read on -- and you'll have a chance to win a LifeProof frē at the end of this post.
Price: US$109.99 (Total Water Protection Program warranty available for an additional $20)
Dimensions: 0.7" x 7.4" x 10.3" (1.778 x 18.796 x 26.162 cm)
Weight: .48 lbs (.218 kg.)
Standards: Sealed from dirt & dust particles – meets or exceeds IP-68 Ingress Protection Rating. Sealed from snow & ice – meets or exceeds IP-68 Ingress Protection Rating. Withstands drops from 4' / 1.2 m – meets or exceeds MIL STD 810F-516
Waterproof Rating: Fully submergible to 6.6' / 2 m for 1 hour
This polycarbonate case is now clear on both sides, meaning that you could theoretically take photos or videos with your iPad Air while snorkeling -- just don't go more than 6.6 feet below the water's surface. As with the other LifeProof cases, the frē has a watertight O-ring that runs around the inside of the case. The two halves snap together tightly to keep dust, snow and water out, and there are pass-through switches or closable covers over all ports.
One nice feature is that the front clear plastic cover now has a "dish" right where the home button is, making it easier for users to get tactile feedback while using their devices. Another welcome addition is the inclusion of a plastic tool for prying the halves of the case apart. If you've ever tried to open a LifeProof case with your hands alone, you'll know why I'm happy about this move.
For a water/snow/dust-proof iPad case, the LifeProof frē is surprisingly thin at 0.7". It's great to see that case manufacturers are trying to do their best to make ultra-protective cases as thin as they can. Looks-wise, the frē is rather "meh". I'd like to see them offer a yellow sports model or something red, anything but the basic boring black and white.
I installed the LifeProof frē on my iPad Air and found it to be much easier to put on than earlier versions of the case. The removal tool also sped things up when taking the case back off -- there's no longer a need to wrestle with the case to remove it.
While I did not submerge the iPad Air in water to test the waterproofing (AOL doesn't insure my personal equipment from water damage...), I did the standard test that LifeProof recommends -- that involves putting the case into water for 30 minutes and then checking for leaks. The frē passed the check with flying colors (note that we have had some cases that leaked during testing, none of them being LifeProof cases).
I was pretty surprised with how well sound emanated from the frē; it sounded just as loud as if it wasn't in a totally sealed case. And photos taken with the frē installed on the iPad Air showed no degradation due to the extra layer of protection over the camera lens.
If you regularly find yourself using your iPad Air in the rain or snow, on the beach, or in the hot tub, then buy the LifeProof frē and keep your Air protected at all times. The case is remarkably well-built, easy to install and remove, and is probably the thinnest waterproof case on the market to date. The only thing missing? A more exciting color scheme.
Rating: 3-1/2 stars out of 4 stars possible
If you're going to the beach for Spring Break in the next couple of weeks, then you want to enter this giveaway for a LifeProo frē. 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 13 and older.
To enter, fill out the form below completely and click or tap the Submit button.
The entry must be made before March 14, 2014 11:59PM Eastern Daylight Time.
You may enter only once.
One winner will be selected and will receive a LifeProof frē case for iPad Air valued at $109.99