on March 5, 2011
First, I want the *maximum possible protection* for my iPad whenever it is outside of it's carry/sling bag.
Second, there is not a single hard shell wapper/case on the market today that beats the Incipio Destroyer for *protecting the iPad* in actual use, short of being waterproof.
Third, I'm an innate modder and inventor. No case I've seen is perfect, as is. I want something with real potential to be more than what it already is.
Integral to the ruggedized Zytel frame is a glove-fit, silicone waffle, shock absorber insert/wrap that fully encloses five sides of the iPad. Exterior hardness alone would be a serious liability for protecting the iPad in a fall/drop, were it not for this critical shock absorbing component. I don't aspire to drop my iPad, but I know it may/will happen some day, because my iPad goes where *none* of my notebook computers ever do.
The design and fit of the unit are superb.
You don't have to do anything at all before you install it, but there are a few things that can be done to make it even better.
The interlocking hard shell is made of glass-reinforced nylon, laser cut/trimmed from injection molds.
This means that there may be some remnant laser "cutting dust" along some of the edges of the hard shell's frame. You might feel this dust with your fingers along some edges, but will need magnification to actually see it for what it is. This fine dust, if present, is physically stuck to some (not all) edges of the frame, but it all comes away very cleanly, despite not being "loose."
One solution is to run a hard finger nail across any "dusty" edges, which is what I did. If you happen to have soft finger nails, you could use the cutting edge of a plastic utensil knife, instead. Then wipe with a damp cloth to remove the detached powdery residue. Another solution would be to use a "dry polishing cloth" for silverware or superfine steel wool to remove the remnant cutting dust. Rub lightly until smooth to the touch. It doesn't take much effort or force, only forethought. Do this before you attempt to assemble the case, if you are going to do it at all. There are four interlocking hard shell pieces and you won't be able to get to most *interior* "edges" once the unit is fully assembled.
There were no sloppy edges or remnants on any of the edges of the silicone waffle shock absorber. When installing the silicone "skin," work from the docking port opening to the opposite end of the iPad. The shock absorber needs to be pulled all the way up over all four edges of the touch screen glass and should also be perfectly flat along of all of those edges. It should also be completely smooth and "flat" over the curved backside of the iPad. (Don't fret about covering the Apple logo; there were two white Apple decals in in iPad's original box.)
The case will assemble properly whether you remove the laser cutting dust or not. Just pay attention to where some hard shell edges clip together and where where other edges slide together. The pieces all fit together perfectly. Clip, first, then slide. Nothing needs to be forced together. If you find yourself having to force any pieces together, then stop; you are doing something wrong. Double check all of the screen side edges of the silicone waffle shock absorber and double check where all silicone plugs/covers are supposed to pass through the hard shell.
The included touch screen protection sheet is the one and only disappointment. I went with the crystal clear, triple laminated, extruded PET splash Masque Screen Protector Films (also available on Amazon), instead. Pricey, but well worth it. Install whatever screen protector you choose before you install the silicone skin.
I created my own "pull tab" for the silicone rubber plug that covers the data/charging/docking port when not in use.
I used a 4" long strip of 3/4" wide, thin polyester cloth ribbon, with 1/4" of the ribbon extending beyond the *top* edge of the closed silicone plug. The rest of the ribbon lays flat, inside the assembled shell, held in place by friction between the inside of the silicone waffle shock absorber and the exterior aluminum of the back of the iPad. (If you are really worried about yanking the pull tab ribbon clear out of the case, you could tape it to the backside of the iPad before you enclose it in the shock absorber. I didn't use any glue or tape and I haven't yanked out my pull tab, yet.) This pull tab makes it extremely easy to open the silicone port cover plug and fully close it back up again, as needed. A very minor, yet very practical, modification that does nothing to compromise the protection of the iPad. Yes, Incipio could have thought of this; but I enjoyed coming up with this simple and elegant mod, too.
In contrast, some other iPad shells require removing an entire section of the frame in order to use the data/charging/docking port or snapping open up a clippy hard shell port cover flap. The former openly compromises complete protection of the iPad in use, where the latter can actually result in marring the aluminum frame of the iPad, over time, because the flap cover clips/snaps directly on the iPad's aluminum body in order to close. Aluminum isn't titanium or magnesium alloy. Aluminum will readily nick and/or deform when subject to seemingly light force.
I don't use or need the Apple Camera Connector Kit or external Video Out cable.
That said, if I did, I would use a Dremel tool to widen the port opening in the Incipio Destroyer's hard shell by a few millimeters, on each side of the port opening, and use an X-Acto knife to similarly widen the opening in the silicone waffle shock absorber, without removing the existing silicone plug/flap. All of that would be done while the Incipio Destroyer is disassembled and the iPad no where in sight.
The purpose of that port flap is to keep dust/debris out of the iPad's port when not in use. It would still completely cover the iPad's port, even with the Incipio Destroyer's openings slightly widened. (I do fault Apple for not standardizing on a single exterior width for all of the accessory iPad connector cables/devices.)
Unmodified, the Incipio Destroyer's snug fit around the data/charging cable and iPad port actually makes accidental damage to the cable connector and/or the iPad's port a lot less likely.
If I had to use SDHC/MMC/XD external memory cards with the iPad, I would rather use a generic USB-compatible multi-card dock, plugged into the USB connector of the Apple data/charging cable, rather than go with the proprietary Apple Camera Connector Kit. (Data card storage is far from being obsolete and Apple should not have required any external adapter in order to accomodate one such card at a time.)
As for on-screen keyboard typing, the raised edges of the Incipio Destroyer over the iPad's touch screen come no where near my wrists or fingers (and I happen to have rather short fingers). No part of the Incipio Destroyer blocks access to any part of the touch screen. There is no impediment to on screen keyboard typing, unless you are in the habit of typing upside down on on-screen keyboards. The raised lip also keeps the touch screen up off of table top surfaces if/when the iPad is set face down for any reason.
The raised edges of the Incipio Destroyer make it easier for me to hold the iPad, especially when pulling and placing it inside a carry/sling bag, without having to gratuitously "fat finger" the iPad's touch screen in order to lug it around.
As for the additional heft/weight... I'm a guy. The additional mass is not unwelcomed by me. (I seriously dislike sitting around in chairs, where ever I may stand. Also a martial artist... You know, wax on, wax off; jacket on, jacket off. Huge repetitions with light weights are routinely used to develop reaction time, speed and stamina.)
My next mod is going to be an external, removable backside battery pack/4-way stand, that can double as a Incipio Destroyer faceplate cover.
(Did you know that the iPad v1 is *deliberately underclocked*? If you clock it up to fully rated component speed, it doesn't even get warm; it just *eats* battery.)
YMMV. But your iPad will not be better protected, in an unpredictable Real World, than in an Incipio Destroyer.