Category Archives: Accessories


iPad Pro review: the Pencil is mightier than the stylus

Man skating, done in SketchBook app

iPad Pro review: the Pencil is mightier than the stylus


by Tablets for Artists

Note: here’s a post about what’s new on the iPad Pro 2017 (10.5″ and new 12.9″)


12.9″ (diagonal) Retina display, LED backlit, multitouch
4GB RAM, 32 GB and 128 GB models (memory not upgradeable)
Wi-fi and cellular models. Wifi superior to regular iPad
Resolution: 2732 x 2048 (5.6 million pixels, 264 ppi)
Colors: silver with white faceplate, gold with white faceplate, Space Gray with black faceplate
Adjustable refresh rate increases speed
A9X chip with 64‑bit architecture, fast enough to edit 4K video
Speakers directly in unibody enclosure; four hi-fi speakers
Magnetic connector connects keyboard and other accessories
8MP camera
Sound adjusts according to tilt

9.7″ iPad Pro:
2GB memory
2048 x 1536 resolution (also 264 ppi)

ipad pro

iPad Pro 12.9″ with Apple Pencil

What’s in the Box:

iPad Pro
Lightning to USB Cable
USB Power Adapter

Optional Accessories:

Apple Pencil
Apple Smart Keyboard or third-party keyboard




Update: Additional info about the 9.7″ iPad Pro further down the page. The main advance of the smaller one is the display.

The first thing I noticed about the iPad Pro was how much lighter it feels than it looks. It’s rail-thin, but has a sturdy build. The screen real estate is generous, giving 78% more space than the iPad Air 2, and there’s enough bezel to let you hold the tablet by it. I like the subtle silver trim, a bit of tinsel for the holiday-season release. There’s even a matching silver band near the charger end of the Pencil.

You can keep the screen print-free by using the Apple Pencil, whose sleek, white surface brings to mind a pipette. I’ve always found inspiration in the sight and smell of worn graphite nubs with their flaking ochre paint. But this colorless, plastic implement feels just familiar enough, and its blankness begs you to add color and life. Whereas the MacBook had a pressure-sensitive, Touch Force touchpad, the iPad Pro put that into the screen, and integrated it with the Pencil. It brings to mind Steve Jobs’ pronouncement: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” (I think we can move past his anti-stylus stance at this point). But for all the great design, it isn’t a complete artist’s paradise, as we will see.

The Pro’s size is the main difference from an ordinary iPad tablet. It’s a heck of a lot faster, too, with performance rivaling many desktop computers, both Apple and PC. It has a powerful graphics and adjustable screen refresh rate, which lengthens battery life. The high-res retina display screen has great color and is sharp as can be. You could probably find a needle in a photo of a haystack.

The ppi is 264, about the same as the Surface Pro 4.


At about a pound and a half, it’s light enough on its own to carry around easily, but not that comfy to hold in one hand, or hold up to read in bed. The size requires a bag big enough to hold a laptop. And after adding a protective hard cover and keyboard, you end up with as much weight as a laptop.

Drawing with the Apple Pencil

Apple Pencil. (Click image to see it at Amazon)




Apple Smart Keyboard keys


The long, elegant Pencil, powered by Bluetooth, has terrific accuracy. There’s no parallax or jagged lines around the edge, no skips or stepped lines. The processor uses Force Touch to provide pressure sensitivity. Tilt and rotation feel natural. You even draw using the Pencil with the tip on its side to do shading. The line is quite soft and natural looking, like a 4B pencil. It’s the best stylus for drawing that there is. Kudos to Apple for continuing to innovate.


Soft, natural-looking pencil lines

Below are lines and shading done with the tip and then, going toward the bottom right corner, with the side of the Apple Pencil.



Palm rejection works well, unless you put several fingers down at the same time, then it gets confused, but that’s to be expected.

In keeping with the minimalist creed, there are no buttons on the Pencil, and no eraser–a cap covers the non-drawing end, and you take off the cap to plug in the Pencil to charge it. There aren’t settings for the Pencil, you just pair it with Bluetooth and that’s it.

The Pencil is comfortable to hold, though I think it could feel heavy after drawing for long periods. One neat thing is that you can grip the pencil near the non-tip end and use some wrist action to draw loosely, as you might with a charcoal pencil. This is made possible by the shape of the tip, and the weight helps. Because a fair amount of the tip can leave marks, the Apple Pencil reminds me a bit of a woodless graphite pencil, which I enjoy using in my non-digital time.

Some of the brushes took time to settle into a shape slightly different from what I’d drawn, as if to impart the effect of liquid ink. There was no such delay or change using the Pencil for pencil lines.

There’s no “tooth”; the glass screen is slick. The Pencil’s tip has a hint of cushioning but is pretty hard. It’s difficult to say if or how much the tips will wear down. So far, Apple is not selling replacement tips. If it shows signs of wear, you can rotate it while drawing to keep it sharp, as artists often do with graphite pencils.

One annoyance is that there’s no way to attach the Pencil to the iPad Pro. There’s no pen loop, USB holder, slot, or magnet, as on the Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4.  There’s no ridge to stop it from rolling should the iPad be resting at an angle. You gotta have a plan for that.

Worse, the little cap that covers the charger can easily get lost, leaving the charger vulnerable. It would be nice if the cap could fit over the pencil end while the pencil is charging, but it doesn’t.


Is that a charger cap in your hand, or an aspirin for when you lose it?

You can’t use the Apple Pencil on other iPads, only the Pro. Bluetooth styluses and keyboards will still work; the Pencil pairs with the iPad Pro via Bluetooth.

man skating for illustration friday site

You can draw with the side of the tip of the Pencil. Drawing at a less sideways angle with the Pencil brought better and more realistic results. Drawing directly with the side didn’t look so much like a pencil mark as a soft, spongy brush or big crayon.



This dog is practically drooling over the Lightning Connector.

You can use your finger to make playful marks while also using the Pencil.

My handwriting looked pretty natural, but it felt like a bit more effort to write, and when writing in cursive the letters flattened out a little. That doesn’t happen with Wacom.


You can put your John Hancock onto documents.

In the Notes app, you can pull up a virtual clear plastic ruler and move it around with the Pencil or your fingers, and use it to draw straight edges. Very cool, and useful for drafting. You can use apps that have layers, such as Sketchbook Pro.

You can only use apps, not full desktop programs. There’s no easy way to access your files to open them in different apps, and, annoyingly, no central way of saving them.

Display: 12.9″ iPad Pro vs. 9.7″ iPad Pro

The gorilla glass is pretty slick, and the Pencil slides across it, but it isn’t as slippery as some screens. Colors look great.

Both the larger and smaller iPad Pros cover and slightly exceed the whole sRGB gamut. The 12.9″ iPad Pro has excellent color accuracy, and the 9.7″ very good, with a very bright screen, about 430 nits. The larger Pro is less bright, at about 375 nits. The smaller one, though, has TrueTone color, which adapts itself to your surroundings, and is supposed to emulate paper. Don’t worry, you can disable TrueTone in the settings if you want.)

It also uses a second color gamut, the DCI-P3 Wide Color Gamut. That’s what’s used in 4K UHD TVs as well as digital cinema. It also has Night Shift, which takes out the blue light that keeps you up (similar to fl.ux, a free Windows app). The smaller iPad Pro has virtually perfect color accuracy.

So is the amazing screen a reason to choose the smaller one? Maybe, but I still prefer the larger screen. Hopefully Apple will make the next version of the larger one with an equally great display.

Lightning Connector

Now instead of just charging your iPad, the Lightning Connector is bidirectional–it can give, and take, power. On the iPad Pro, it serves to not only charge the device, but to connect a keyboard and charge the Apple Pencil.

Battery Life

The Pro has 10 hours of battery life, and the Pencil lastsfor 12 hours on a full charge. And charging the Pencil for just 15 seconds, a deed akin to sharpening a wooden pencil, gives you 30 more minutes of drawing.

The charging port is on the side of the iPad Pro, so that the Pencil point sticks out at a perpendicular angle into the air–so be a little careful in crowded coffee shops.

User Reviews

The iPad Pro pushes pressure-sensitive tablets into the mainstream. Some users are finding that it substitutes for a laptop and a tablet, while some who already have a laptop and tablet can’t find much use for it and think the size is awkward. It wears many hats (caps?)–people are using it as a TV, a newspaper, ebook reader, a way to get work done on planes, trains, and buses, and a not-the-most-efficient laptop once you connect a keyboard. One iPad Pro review by an attorney praised it for saving a lot of paper, as you can pull up and sign PDFs so easily. It is ideal for paperwork. Professional artists doing an iPad Pro review seem to pretty much agree that it’s a sketchbook, not a substitute for a computer with desktop apps. Using the Apple Pencil for drawing is a hit with most people. Many iPad Pro and Apple Pencil reviews rave that the Pencil beats Cintiq pens. I do agree that it gives a new level to the digital drawing experience, and is fun as well.


Pencil has excellent accuracy
Tilt and rotation sensitivity, including using the side of the tip
Excellent palm rejection
Good for note-taking
Generous size
4:3 aspect ratio
High-res screen
LTE options
Good for tasks such as signing documents, dealing with PDFs–can replace a lot of paper



No way to tether Pencil to the iPad, or the end cap to the Pencil
Lack of eraser tip
OS doesn’t allow for convenient file management
Cannot use full programs such as Photoshop
no USB port
No SD card slot; storage not upgradeable
Screen is slick
Pencil is a bit heavy

Optional Accessories



Apple Pencil. Click image to see at Best Buy


Apple Smart Keyboard. Click image to see at Best Buy

The Verdict

Is the iPad Pro a substitute for a laptop? Not really. Even using the iPad Pro with a keyboard is limiting. The keyboards for it can’t provide touchpads, you can’t use a mouse, and you can’t adjust the angle of the screen.

Is it a substitute for a Cintiq? Not really. You can only use apps with the iPad Pro, pressure sensitivity is app-dependent. The Pencil is not the issue here, nor is the screen. It does supply more of an “experience,” and solves the small, irritating issues with lines that affect Wacom, N-trig and other digitizers. But the OS is limiting. You can’t use full Photoshop or Illustrator or do efficient file management.

On the positive side, I think anyone could pick this up and intuitively go with the flow, just draw, without any learning curve, and that’s motivating. Drawing could get pretty addictive, especially with the ability to share the drawings so easily. Even the Wacom Cintiq 6D art pen doesn’t perform the side-shading feat. Beginning or hobby artists would love this, and professional artists would enjoy it as a very cool-looking digital sketchbook. I have no doubt it will be popular.

Apple hasn’t deigned to tell us how many levels of pressure sensitivity there are. Guess we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about it.

See the iPad Pro on Amazon

There are some handy, low-cost accessories out there that solve the annoying problem of the loose cap that can roll away. They add a little weight, but many artists are happy with them.


Here’s a cool Apple Pencil clip:


If you’re looking for a less expensive digital sketchbook, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 9.7″ with S Pen or the 2017, higher-end Samsung Galaxy Tab S3, both Android tablets with a Wacom digitizer.

Update: Here’s the new Surface laptop (Surface Pro 5)


The Toshiba dynaPad, a mobile Windows 10 tablet, is also one to consider if you’re seeking a portable sketchbook. (note: this product is older now and no longer being made).

The Surface Pro 4 is probably the main competition to the iPad Pro as far as non-art issues; the Pro 4 will let you use Photoshop.


If you’re looking for a handmade iPad Pro case that with an amazing set of positions, read our post about the FlipSteady.

Read all about the top drawing and graphics tablets.

end of iPad Pro review

See top iPad drawing apps.

See best artist tablet PCs

Finding the best laptop bags: A buying guide

carrying laptop or tablet


Best laptop bags: how to find durability, safety, and style

by Tablets for Artists

Finding the best laptop bag for your lifestyle doesn’t have to be a chore. But there are a lot of things to consider before taking the plunge. You want a bag that’s going to last and serve your needs for a long time to come.

Many of us carry a laptop as well as a tablet. So the best laptop bag for digital artists should have certain features, chief among them a dedicated laptop compartment or pocket, and a dedicated tablet compartment or pocket. These should be padded.

Laptop and tablet sizes are measured diagonally and referred to by screen size. So a 15” laptop would fit into a computer bag of 15” or larger. Most laptops are 13.1″ to 15″. 17″ is fairly common too, and some are 19″. There are netbooks that are much smaller. Tablets come in many sizes, but 7″, 8″, and 10″ are common. Some bags specifically state computers that will fit into them; it doesn’t mean that other computers won’t, but customers could be searching for a bag for their MacBook Pro.

pelican computer case

The Pelican 1495 Black Computer Case is a hard-shelled briefcase with protective foam inside.

A waterproof pouch on the inside to protect your electronics is a useful feature. Extra outer pockets for books and magazines, paper notebooks/ work items, an e-reader, water bottle, and other sundries are a good addition.

There are laptop bags you carry over your shoulder; backpacks; rolling backpacks; cross-body bag, e.g., messenger bags; roller bags with two or four wheels (spinners); pocketbook styles; and briefcases. There should be room for chargers, headphones, external hard drives, and the like. A very small container can be handy for small electronics that get lost easily, such as SD cards, USB sticks, batteries, and other small personal items. Photographers who don’t want to carry a separate camera bag would also look for a pocket to carry a DSLR and lenses. Especially handy for artists are small pockets for pens and styluses and pockets for extra nibs.

Does the bag’s style match its purpose? You probably don’t want to go to the office with a bag that looks like you’re going hiking, even if the hiking bag is one of the best laptop bags there is.

Are the zippers well made?  Lockable zippers–ones that have ports that allow you to add a luggage lock–are important.

A rolling bag takes the weight off you. Spinner bags have four wheels instead of two. They are easier to maneuver, but can be hard to control. Their wheels take up extra space. Roller bags tend to have cutouts for the wheels and the wheels tend to be larger.


Delsey rolling bag for laptops

This Delsey Luggage Helium Aero spinner has an external compartment that gives you quick access to your laptop and helps speed you through airport security. See it on Amazon.

victorinox laptop roller bag


victorinox trevi

This Victorinox Trevi Laptop Brief is a (pricey) example of a two-wheeled bag specially made to accommodate a laptop. It’s got pockets galore! Victorinox is considered one of the best luggage brands.

Many bags come in different colors and sometimes patterns.

While most bags are unisex, there are laptop bags specifically aimed at men or women, mostly based on style.

Your bag should be structured and firm, but offer some flexibility.

For a tablet, you will want a soft sleeve or hard case to keep your screen safe in the tablet compartment of the bag. For a laptop, if the pocket is larger than your computer, you may want to use a sleeve to keep the computer from moving around too much in transit, as moving toward the sides of the bag can increase any impact on the device. A tablet or laptop should fit snugly into the pocket. Some bags have straps to secure devices.

Art tablets. For a graphics tablet like an Intuos that doesn’t have a screen to scratch, you can get away without an extra sleeve if the bag has enough padding. Some art tablets, particularly the older Cintiqs, have a large amount of gear you need to carry to power them. Make sure your bag can accommodate the necessities. At the very least, wrap your 13HD in a t-shirt and put it in the middle of soft clothing so there are inches of clothes around it. The larger-size Cintiqs and other large display tablets are generally better off in a hard-shelled roller bag with a sleeve, plenty of extra cushioning and optionally, a box or hard case. If you still have it, you could use the box and packing material the tablet came in.

Being TSA-compliant is a timesaver for travelers. This popular Timbuk2 messenger bag has a TSA- compliant outer laptop sleeve. You can open it up flat with your laptop showing and easily remove your laptop. It also has a tablet sleeve.

timbuk2 messenger tsa

Weight is an important consideration. Get something that doesn’t add too much weight to the gear you’re putting in it, but not something flimsy or nonsecure.

When online shopping, you can’t try putting your laptop in. So if you’re unsure your computer will fit, you can contact the manufacturer. Remember to take the thickness of your computer or tablet, sleeve included, into account when fitting a bag.

Sometimes bag companies seem to forget to add product images of the inside. More images can be often be found on the company’s Web site or you may need to download or request a catalogue.

Back support is important to remember when looking for the best laptop bag. It can be hard to carry a laptop around even for fairly short periods if you have back pain, and it can make back pain worse or even cause it. So the part next to your back should be strong but flexible. The straps should also be padded, comfortable, and easy to adjust.  A chest strap is good if you will be carrying a heavy load and want added support. A waist strap can also add support and take some load off your spine.

If you’re going to be carrying the bag by hand, choose a bag with extra fabric on the carrying handle or a smooth, rounded carrying strap. Your hand can feel cut up from carrying a heavy bag.

Not enough little pockets? If your bag is missing some of these features, you can buy an organizing grid to increase your packing options. We love this Cocoon Grid-it Organizer for the little things. It not only straps things into place, it has a zipper pocket to keep more items. If you have a lot of chargers they won’t get tangled up together. (It does take a bit of work to arrange things this artfully).


best laptop bags grid-it organizer

See the Cocoon Grid-it Organizer on Amazon.

There are many things to keep in mind when choosing from the best laptop bags.

Do you want an open bag, such as an over-the-shoulder type, to easily take out your laptop/tablet, or do you want to keep it zipped or buttoned? One without a zipper or buttons is much less secure and open to pickpockets. But it might be OK for indoors, such as walking around an office, or for quick errands. Still, keep the device in a sleeve.

What is the bag made of? Bags come in many materials. Polyester is popular and easy to clean. There’s also leather, both real and synthetic, both of which protect from water; thick cotton canvas; neoprene, and hemp. Protection is accomplished via padding, air cells, or elastic slings. Obviously, the hard ones can handle more impact. But your laptop and tablet needs to be protected from the hard sides themselves, so they should be put in a sleeve.

Zippers should be strong and sturdy. It’s preferable if they have a loop to make them lockable. The zipper should not have jagged teeth, which can hurt your hands while opening and closing the zipper—I had that happen with one bag. Be sure that the zipper is in good condition when you first get your bag, and that any buttons, and clasps are securely attached. Broken zippers and falling buttons can make your bag less useful and less attractive. Magnets can be good closures, but be careful to not leave magnetized cards around them, as the cards can get demagnitized.

What’s around you? Consider your environment. Will the bag see rough weather? Would you be using it often? Would you fly with it as a carry-on personal item? Will you be biking, hiking with your laptop? If you’re going to get sweaty, getting breathable fabric with padded straps tha have mesh is optimal. If you’re going to school and will also be carrying books, be mindful of back strain. If you’re a parent, when purchasing a bag for a child, be sure it’s not going to be too heavy, and be careful of how much goes into it.

Will you be in crowded spaces such as trains? If so, you might want one with a slender profile and/or a handle on top to avoid banging into people. As well, many museums will let you carry your backpack in only by hand, so if you’re an art lover you may want a bag that’s not so long it or parts of it would drag on the ground, and a top handle helps. This Dakine Mission backpack is slender and the straps cleverly form a back handle.

best laptop bags dakine mission

How tall are you? You don’t want to be dwarfed by your bag. And you don’t want a bag that fits tightly.

Do you want to carry other things besides your digital equipment? If so, you might want a weekend bag type of laptop carrier, one with room for some clothing and other items. Using it for work? You might want there to be a sleeve that can carry folders. You might want to check the specs to make sure you can put folders in the way you want. Horizontally is best, so your papers can face up.

Many bags have some padding, but the best laptop bags have ample padding on the bottom as well, as that part of the bag is likely to receive some knocks no matter how careful you are. If the bag does not have a lot of padding, use a padded laptop sleeve. You might want to use one at all times even if the bag is padded; however, if the pocket is both well-padded with a cushioned interior and firm exterior, your laptop should be safe for every day carrying.

Some of the best laptop bags offer advanced security, antitheft, and safety features. These can include zippers that lock, cut-proof shoulder straps, cut-proof fabric, lockable compartments, reflectors, secret pockets for your passport, and RFID blocking. Safety features can include a reflector and loops to attach carabiners, a flashlight, and a whistle. Having an accessible pocket for your cell phone is both a convenience and a safety feature.

As well, some have small, fleece-lined pockets for cell phones and glasses or ski goggles.

osprey backpack for laptop


This Osprey Quasar laptop backpack offers many antitheft features, including RFID, which stops thieves with electronic readers from being able to read your credit card numbers.

We hope this has covered the basics of what you need to know to find the perfect laptop bag to be your travel companion–so go ahead and compartmentalize.

end of Finding the best laptop bags: a buying guide


Microsoft Surface Pro 4: New Surface Pen offers more to artists

Microsoft new Surface Pen gets a big upgrade

microsoft surface pen with tip kitThe new Microsoft Surface Pro 4 is set to be released this October 26. It comes with an upgraded Surface Pen. The specs have been released, and the new pen, which is still N-trig, now delivers 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity. It uses Bluetooth, as did the previous pen, and takes an AAAA battery. The back end functions as an eraser. Most interesting is that it has a tip kit with four tips corresponding to artists’ pencils: HB, B, H, and 2H. Looks like Microsoft is really going after the Wacom artist’s market. The tip kit is sold separately, but comes with any additional pens you buy. The pen no longer needs a loop to attach to the tablet as in the Surface Pro 3; it attaches to the Pro 4 via a magnet. The latency is reduced, making it less laggy. The pen’s accelerometer knows when you’re not touching the tablet and saves the battery; Microsoft claims the battery can last up to 18 months.

Surface Pen tip kit

You can use the new pen on Surface 3, Surface Pro 3, Surface Pro 4, and the new laptop, the Surface Book. We’ll be covering more developments.

microsoft surface pro 4 with surface pen

microsoft surface pro 4 with surface pen

Order the SP 4 with included Pen and Tip Kit.

Preorder the new Surface Pen with included Tip Kit.


Apple releases iPad Pro with Apple Pencil Stylus

Well, the big day is here. Apple is releasing the iPad Pro, with a larger screen and features like multitasking is here! It will have more speed as well as features like multitasking and a split screen, similar to Android tablets such as the Galaxy Note. The iPad Pro will have a 12.9-inch diagonal screen with 5.6 million pixels. Now that’s resolution! It will start at $799.

Here’s a look at the new, $99 Apple Pencil Stylus.

Best rugged iPad case: Five tough choices

Best Rugged iPad Case: Five strong contenders

The best rugged iPad case should be something you only need to buy once. These types of cases are the most protective. Some are military grade. Some are waterproof. Some have keyboards. Some seal the tablet in a hard, tank-like shell, while others buffer it with bouncy material. Most are drop-proof to a certain height. Some come with screen protectors that keep liquids from seeping in. A durable iPad case is a good choice for families with kids, or any active adult.

These are five of the top rugged iPad cases out there, selected for their high quality, features, and user praise.

For pointers on what to look for in a rugged case, please read our article.


Griffin GB35108 Survivor Extreme-duty Military Case for iPad 2, 3, 4 (4 is also called 3S)

Griffin GB35108 Survivor ipad case

This military-grade Griffin Survivor iPad 1,2, and 3 case might be the best rugged iPad case for you if you work out in the field, on a dusty construction or sports site, take photos out out in the elements, or have kiddies who spill milk onto the screen. It’s waterproof and dustproof.

The Griffin’s hard polycarbonate frame is surrounded by robust, soft silicone, protecting it from shocks and vibrations. The silicone’s inside has a relief waffle pattern that adds air cushioning, and the back has a tread design that provides additional padding against drops. A built-in screen protector protects the screen from dust, wind, and rain.

Raised silicone edges provide a buffer if you drop the tablet directly onto its screen, but the screen could still be damaged depending on the fall. A sleeve would provide additional protection.

The included small workstand clips cleverly onto the case. You can take off the stand and unfold it so that it will hold the iPad in different positions (only in landscape mode).

The silicone surroundings have hinged plugs that cover the iPad’s ports, connector, and lens.  A clever indentation in the silicone lets you keep the rear-facing camera port open as long as you wish by “buttoning” it down.

This durable, rugged, waterproof case adds almost a pound to your iPad.

Comes in 5 colors

Weight: 15.2 oz.

See more reviews and info



Lifeproof Fre for iPad mini 1, 2, 3




A popular choice for the best rugged iPad mini case is the Lifeproof Fre. It protects against dirt, snow, water, and drops. It’s waterproof for an hour up to 6.6 feet (2 meters) and drop-proof for up to 4 feet, by military standards.

The Fre’s transparent back shows off the Apple logo. The rubber around the case makes it grippable and provides padding for the edges and a little buffer in case the iPad falls on its screen. It it does not provide thorough screen protection, so as with any case that leaves the screen exposed or with just a thin screen protector, you might want to get a sleeve as well. The Fre comes with a super thin, clear screen protector as well as a removable shoulder strap.

All the ports, controls, and buttons are accessible. Its sound-enhancing features make the iPad even more enjoyable for listening to music. The case has an anti-reflective optical glass lens for the camera, so it won’t distort or blur your photos and videos.

The description on Amazon is vague about which models this case is for, so we checked with Lifeproof and it is for the iPad 1, 2, and 3. It plays well with retina and the iPad mini 3 touch ID.

Lifeproof’s customer service is prompt and replaces cases if anything goes wrong.

Weightwise, the case is barely there–just 130 grams. If you want something non-bulky, this might be the best rugged iPad case for the way you roll.

Colors: Black, White/Gray

Weight: about 4.6 oz. (130 g)

More reviews and info


The Fintie Casebot Tuatera Series Uni-body Hybrid Case for iPad Air 2 (iPad6)



Made of hard polycarbonate plastic, the affordable Tuatara protects the iPad3 on all sides, encasing it in a reptile-like hard shell. It has a built-in screen protector with good sensitivity. Under the polycarbonate is a layer of TPU, thermoplastic polyurethane. TPU is like a soft plastic. It’s far less flexible than silicone, but it doesn’t pick up dirt, lint, and oils the way silicone can, and it’s easy to clean.

This case is easy to put the iPad into. It is shock-resistant (but not military-grade), and its internal grooves and “air padding” help regulate heat and moisture. It is  light and not bulky. It will not interfere with the iPad Air 2’s ambient light sensor or Touch ID. The camera and port cutouts line up well. The screen protector will protect somewhat from liquids and dusts, but not from drops

This is inexpensive, so we’ve picked it as an best rugged iPad case that’s competitive with more expensive cases, and a good choice for families with kids.

Comes in 6 solid colors.

Weight: 10.4 oz.

Read more reviews and info


Gumdrop Drop Series – Military Edition, for iPad5 (iPad Air)



Gumdrop Drop Series Military Edition iPad 5 has more protection for the iPad5 (also known as iPad Air, the first model) than the regular Gumdrop cases, which are also rugged, but this one is even more so. This one is made of silicone and hard polycarbonate, with the soft silicone on the outside. The corner bumpers are reinforced. There is a protective ring around the iPad camera. The screen protector is removable in this military edition.

The case is not waterproof. It does not come with a stand, making it lighter than the Griffin models that have stands. All ports and buttons are covered. This case has had oil hand-applied to the silicone outer layer to make it repel dust.

Comes in 9 colors

Weight 12.8 oz

See more reviews and info

Gumdrop Hideaway with Stand for iPad Air2

Gumdrop cases command loyal fans. Some just love the look and feel of them.  Gumdrop’s siliconized rubber bumper surrounds the whole iPad and raises a bit more cushion for direct screen drops than some other rugged cases (still, try not to drop the iPad onto its screen).

The rubber covers the whole back and protects all the ports, but they are still easily accessible. A hard internal plate protects the iPad from drops up to 6 feet. The attractive, sporty, tire-like tread texture makes the case fun to hold and gives it a no-slip grip. The rubber does produce a bit of static that picks up dust.

The Gumdrop is pretty easy to install–you have to push down on the rubber all around the iPad, rather than just snapping the Ipad into the case, but it’s simple. A Gumdrop may be one of the best rugged iPad cases if you have kids.

If you want a durable, but not military-grade, iPad with a stand, try the Gumdrop Custom Hideaway with Stand. This is a good case for kids and has a “fun” look and feel. It’s not quite as protected as the military one, but it’s still very durable and has most of the features.



Unfortunately, the iPad Air2’s light sensor is covered by this case, so auto-dimming will not work.

7  bright colors. Weight 1 lb.

See more reviews and info

ZAGG Rugged Folio Case: best rugged iPad case with a keyboard


If you’re looking for a really durable iPad case with a keyboard, this might be the ticket.

Like some other rugged cases, the Zagg Rugged Folio is made from layers of polycarbonate and soft silicone that will protect your iPad Air from drops. But the Zagg also features a stainless steel plate under the keyboard for more drop protection as well as a stable surface to type on.

Rubber runs around the edges when the case is closed, to keep out dirt and dust. The island/Chiclet-style keyboard attaches and detaches via strong magnetic hinge. It’s easy to detach the keyboard if you choose.

Some cases require a bit of gymnastics to take the iPad out and put it in, but this case is easy to install.  The case is durable and protects from dust and dirt when closed, but if you’re in a windstorm while the case is open, dust could get into the keyboard. For most uses it’s fine.

It’s NOT waterproof; the iPad ports and buttons are not sealed inside the case.  The case does not come with a screen protector, but you can add one.

My favorite part is the keyboard with its choice of dimness and lighting colors, making typing relaxing or stimulating as you wish.

The case takes four forms: Keyboard Mode, Case Mode, Video Mode, and Book Mode. In Keyboard Mode, your iPad becomes like a Mac laptop. You can open or close the cover to any angle for comfortable typing and viewing. In Case Mode, you can detach the keyboard and just use the case.

In Book and Video Modes, you can turn the screen on the hinge, so in Book Mode you have a slate, so you can read. You can re-attach the keyboard to the back while in Book Mode. In Video Mode, you look at the screen while the keyboard faces away from you (watch the video below to see all the modes).

The lithium polymer battery keeps the keyboard going for up to two years! There’s a battery monitor that lets you see the power left (1-4 lights go on). The keyboard charges via mini USB, but you can wait two years between charges.

The case is quite heavy at about a pound and a half, so with the iPad Air, about two and a half pounds, heavier than some laptops. It’s also not waterproof. But it’s very solid and makes your Air into a well-functioning laptop-tablet hybrid.

Despite it’s not being waterproof, this is very useful and versatile, and could just be the best rugged iPad case for the mini.

See more reviews and info for the Zagg Rugged Folio


Browse all rugged iPad cases on Amazon.


Here’s how to tell what model iPad you have:

iPad Air 2. Year: Late 2014. Model nos. A1566, A1567

iPad Air. Year: Late 2013. Model nos. A1474, A1475, A1476

iPad mini 3. Year: late 2014. A1599, A1600

iPad mini 2. Year: late 2013. Model nos. A1489, A1490, A1491

iPad mini. Year: late 2012. Model nos. A1432, A1454, A1455

iPad (4th generation). Year: Late 2012. Model nos. A1458, A1459, A1460

iPad (3rd generation). Year: early 2012. Model nos. A1416, A1430, A1403
iPad 2. Year: 2011. A1395, A1396, A1397
iPad. Year: 2010. Model numbers A1219, A1337

end of The Best Rugged iPad Case: Five to Consider