A few weeks ago, we brought word that LifeProof had finally released their new case for the iPad 2 and 3. Then, before it was actually shipping, we brought a first-look video. At the time, I was struck by the way in which the case was able to offer amazing protection while remaining relatively light. I finally had a chance to test and then use the LifeProof nüüd (more on the “testing” aspect in a bit) and… I’m impressed. Still, at an MSRP just south of $150, I suspect many will be hesitant to take the leap. If, however, you use your iPad in “challenging” places, or you have little kids grabbing for it, this may be a good investment.
Let’s take a closer look…
Introducing nüüd naked screen technology: Cases with built-in screen protectors significantly degrade the visual clarity of your iPad and have an air gap that interferes with the touch experience. With nüüd naked screen technology, there is absolutely nothing between you and your iPad’s screen — literally. Enjoy your iPad as Apple intended: go nüüd for perfect visual clarity and the most responsive and intimate touch experience possible.
Water, dirt, snow, and shock proof: Designed with confidence in mind, the LifeProof nüüd case for iPad allows you to take your iPad everywhere. Surf the web from the pool, view blueprints on the construction site, or let the kids complete their reports while on a field trip. Now your iPad can accompany you wherever life takes you.
Enjoy your music and movies everywhere you go: LifeProof’s Patent Pending Sound Enhancement System ensures you get the most out of your media. The nüüd is the only case that channels the sound through the case cavity, providing a richer, fuller sound.
Naked, LifeProof, and fully accessible. No compromise: Industry leading protection and total screen clarity combined with full access to all the buttons and ports are what makes the LifeProof® nüüd case an enhancement to your iPad experience with no compromise.
When I first read about the nüüd technology I was a bit perplexed. The company talked about any screen protection getting in the way of the screen’s look and feel. (This, of course, includes the company’s iPhone case.) At first I thought they had found a way to seal the iPad in the case with some sort of gasket that left the screen actually exposed. The more I thought about that the more I realized that would be CRAZY. Instead, I figured they had come up with a super-thin, super-responsive film.
Then I started the process of testing the case to make sure it was waterproof. The screen protector was thick, heavy plastic and it had a bizarre indent in the center. I thought I had received an early, and defective unit. Nope, the sample was fine and it was me who was defective. You see, a close look at the case and, as it turned out, my first thought for how the protection was accomplished was accurate. (The advertising does make clear how it is done but I just could not wrap my head around the idea.) The case is actually open in front and it seals around the screen while leaving it fully exposed and accessible. That means you lose no sensitivity touchscreen-wise while gaining all the protection you need. It also means, however, that you cannot use the case underwater. (You can use the iPhone case under water.)
The first step was to test the case’s waterproof integrity. That was done by using the included plastic insert as an iPad “stand in” and placing the case in water for a few minutes. (See the rectangular indentation that initially confused me?) I did that using the sink and then dried the case off. No water had made it inside.
That accomplished, I used a nickel to open the case (it is one hell of a tight seal when put together) and removed the plastic test-shield.
I placed the iPad inside and sealed it closed. It looked great, but I discovered the home button did not work. I removed the iPad and tried again. Same problem.
I finally realized that I had a protective skin on the back of the iPad and, considering the case has such precise tolerances (it has to in order to create and maintain a seal around the iPad’s screen), even that little bit of extra thickness made a difference. Once I removed it and put the iPad back inside, everything worked fine.
Once I started using the case I was impressed. Yes, it adds some thickness and weight, but it is certainly less than I would have expected. In addition, the extra material along the sides, material that is there for shock-proofing also makes for a great spot to grab and hold the tablet. The rotation lock/mute toggle works well although, unsurprisingly, it requires a different motion to switch from one more to the other.
The protection around the dock connector does mean that anything thicker than Apple’s own cable won’t work, but that is just the way it is.
The speaker, while safely protected behind the case, sounds pretty much just as it does when the iPad is naked. Yes, there is a bit of a reduction in clarity, but you need to be listening for it in order to hear it. One interesting thing I did find is that the clear protective area in the back vibrates when music is playing. When it is unobstructed it has no impact, but if you press lightly on it the sound does degrade somewhat.
In all, while the case does add weight and bulk, it adds far less than I have found with other protective cases. More importantly, I have been finding the iPad to be fully usable in the LifeProof nüüd Case for iPad.
Purchasing the cover, an additional expense which moves the case well above the $150 level, is a good idea since the nüüd does nothing to protect the iPad’s screen. The fact that it doubles as a two-position stand is a nice benefit although I would have preferred if the case itself shipped with some kind of screen protection included.
So what’s the bottom line on the LifeProof nüüd Case for iPad? It works. It promises good protection with zero loss of screen functionality, and that is exactly what you get.
I don’t think I would want this case on my iPad full-time though, since it does take the thin but not too light tablet and makes it even heavier. But if you use your iPad in an environment that might be a bit too tough on it otherwise, then this is a great option. The fact that the screen is not covered makes a HUGE difference. No, I did not take the iPad into the water the way I have with other waterproof devices. My reason was rather simple. While the case WAS watertight in the pre-iPad insertion test, I really don’t want to risk there being any user-error when securing my iPad inside.
Fact is, I don’t see myself using this case underwater, especially since the capacitive screen won’t work there anyway, and I don’t really see the case as being intended for that purpose. Instead, I see using this case on my iPad when, for example I go to Aruba. I won’t go swimming with it but, thanks to LifeProof, I also won’t be worried about taking it to the pool or the beach since, were it to take a dunking, odds are quite good it would be just fine. $150 case vs. replacing my iPad entirely? Not a bad insurance policy.
MSRP: $149.99 for the case, $29.99 for the cover or $159.99 for the bundle
What I Like: Great protection; Screen fully exposed and usable; Water, shock, dust etc proof; Surprisingly light for the protection it offer; All functions maintained; Cover doubles as a stand
What Needs Improvement: Expensive; Screen exposed and therefore not protected; Dock connector is recessed and will not work with larger charge/sync connectors; Cover/stand an added expense; Pressing on the back while music plays has some impact on the sound quality; I HATE the videos they have promoting the product