What a wonderful invention the iPad is. I take mine everywhere. Especially when I travel. While my phone acts as my camera and my link to the outside world, my iPad provides me with hours of entertainment and a way to edit photos and update Splodz Blogz while on the move. But it’s fragile. So easy to dent, scratch, break. So if you are a little bit clumsy like me and use your tablet as a workhorse when out and about (rather than being confined to your lounge or hotel room), you will no doubt have researched the plethora of rugged cases on the market.
I was sent one of the new STM Dux cases to try out. Smaller than most rugged cases I’ve come across, it’s designed to offer protection to your device so you can take it with you everywhere and not worry about the knocks that are inevitable when you leave the relative safety of your lounge. “Dux” apparently refers the top student in class over in Australia – the case boasts protection without bulk, has been tested to U.S. Department of Defense Standard 810F/G durability tests (26 drops from 4 feet), has the magnetic closure to sleep your iPad when you close the case, and is said to be low profile enough to be suitable for every day use.
Putting the iPad into the case is really easy. I started with the top two corners and then pressed the rest of the edges around my iPad. It seems to fit in snugly, and while I am not about to purposefully drop my tablet onto the floor (I’m not a tech magazine with a budget for new iPads!), there does appear to be a good amount of protection offered by the rubber edging. Okay so I admit my iPad has slipped out of my hands on more than one occasion when I’ve had this case on and no damage has been done… wooden kitchen floors can be very unforgiving but thankfully no harm.
The case offers loads more protection for my iPad than the simple smart case I’ve been using. I like that the front closes completely over and fastens on the back – there is no way this is coming undone in my bag and I can be confident the screen will always be protected. While it is still probably bigger than a case I’d be willing to use all the time, it doesn’t really add that much bulk to the iPad. All the buttons and ports can be used and the speaker area has been left open so you don’t lose any sound (a common problem for rugged cases).
Of course this is a rugged case and not a fully enclosed waterproof one – there is no screen protector and I won’t be taking this with me the next time I go canoeing or sailing (!), but for dry activities this does make me more confident.
You can stand the case up at two angles using the screen cover as the stand. There are two little plastic notches that hold the stand in place when it’s in the most upright position. These work really well when the pad is on a hard surface such as a table, but not brilliantly when it’s on your lap or a cushion as the slightest wobble leads to the stand collapsing and the iPad falling over.
There are two small things I’d like to see improved in the next iteration of this case. The first is the sleep/wake button is really difficult to press – I’m not sure why seeing as the volume buttons and all the ports are perfectly cut or arranged. Thankfully I can sleep using the magnet in the case front, though, so I’ve just stopped using the button (it really is that tough to press). The other thing is that the rubbery edge along the bottom of the iPad, the side where the home button is, is really flexible and easily bends. Just be careful how you hold the iPad or you’ll drop it on the floor if you don’t have hold of the actual iPad rather than just the case bit. I think the significant cutting for the speakers and cable port has affected the integrity and it’s now just a bit too bendy for my liking.
I like the look of the case. Like I say, it’s not too bulky, and feels nice in the hand. The plastic back means you can still see your iPad in there – I’ve never really understood cases with clear backs or cut outs as I don’t see the need, but it’s a nice touch I guess. The red is a good red, too – not too bright but still offers a pop of colour meaning you can see it really easily when you’ve packed it in your rucksack. There are various other colours to choose from for the iPad (not all devices have the colour choice).
In summary I would say this is a great rugged case that I am very happy to trust with my iPad when it’s stuffed in my rucksack, overnight bag or motorcycle topbox. I’ve actually been using it as my every day case (forced to as my old case broke), and while it’s a bit more bulky than I would like normally for normal home to office use, I’ve quickly become used to the extra protection it offers and am definitely a little less careful with my tech now – I must remember this when I get a new normal case!
This STM Dux for iPad Air 2 costs $59.95. You can get the Dux for a range of tech including the iPhone 6, Surface Pro 4, iPad Pro and various other devices. This one I’ve been trying (in red) costs £42 from Amazon here in the UK.
Thank you to STM for sending me one of the STM Dux cases to try out. As always with my reviews, I write after trying out the product in my real life and am honest with my opinions.