Going case-less with the iPad 2

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I’m infamous for slapping cases on everything I have, to the degree of ridiculousness. The iPad 2 was no different and I went through a few cases before I upgraded. On the iPad 2 however, I’m torn between having a slim device and having a protected device.

It’s common knowledge that the iPad 2 is slimmer and lighter than the iPad 1. However the true implications of this is hard to grasp without having used both for a certain period of time. Combined with the improved ergonomics of the iPad 2, it’s a whole new ball game when it comes to holding the iPad and using it on a daily basis.

One of the issues with the iPad 1 is that it’s really a bit too heavy to hold one handed without gripping it way too tightly. Doing so can cause you physical pain (or, in my case, make your hands fall asleep a lot) because of the sharp edges. One of the reasons I always used a case with it and eventually ended up using the Speck Candyshell was that the case didn’t just protect the iPad, it also made it more comfortable to hold. When you already have a device that’s a bit too heavy to hold with one hand, it doesn’t really matter if it’s two bits too heavy to hold with one hand.

The iPad 2 however is another story. It’s so much lighter (600 grams instead of 730 for the 3G model, if my memory serves me right) that you can in fact wield it with one hand. The bezel isn’t really wide enough to do this while controlling anything on screen as the hand you use to hold it will often accidentally touch the screen, but for showing stuff to people, reading etc it’s much easier to hold. The real game changer is the rounded off edges though, which makes it a lot more comfortable to hold. It feels more like if you’re carrying around a magazine rather than something more “industrial” with sharp edges, and it doesn’t hurt you hands if you hold it certain ways. One of my main ways of holding the iPad 2 is to rest its edge between the roots of my thumb and index finger, using 1-4 of my triple-jointed fingers to support the back of it and holding it in place with my thumb. That works great on the iPad 2, but on the iPad 1 that cuts off the blood flow and pinches some nerves or whatnot between my index finger and thumb, causing my hand to fall asleep.

This difference between the default usability of each device means that I’m using the iPad 2 in a way I could never use the iPad 1 as far as holding it goes. While putting a case on the iPad 1 actually improved usability, I’m afraid that it will hinder the usability on the iPad 2. I certainly won’t go with any book style case, but might get the Speck Candyshell if they make one for the iPad 2. I certainly don’t feel safe running around without a case, though for transport I use the Tuff Luv Veggie pull-tab case and the Smart Cover. Many people don’t like the Smart Cover because it doesn’t protect the entire thing, but the way I currently use my iPad I prefer the removable front cover. If I use the iPad in portrait mode holding it up I fold the Smart Cover in half on the back, if I lay it flat I just fold it on the back to protect the back side of the iPad, and if I use it any other way I take it off. I do have a Gelaskin on the way to help protect the back from scratches, though that won’t do me much good if I drop the iPad.

Right now there aren’t really many cases available anyways, which makes the choice an easy one. I’m slightly interested in the Incipio Silicrylic which is the closest I can find to a Candyshell right not, but we’ll see. It’s definitely a touch choice to choose between being protected and having a light device, and the iPad 2 just made the choice a lot harder.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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