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Computerized Investing > July 16, 2011

Otterbox Motorola XOOM Defender Series Case

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

High-impact shell for Motorola XOOM tablet.

A few months ago I purchased a Motorola XOOM tablet to allow me to review Android-based apps. After spending several hundred dollars on such a delicate piece of technology, I started looking for a case to protect my investment. The first one I tried was the Otterbox Defender, which was given to me by the company. This two-piece case has one layer of hi-impact polycarbonate and another of silicone. The case gives you access to the XOOM’s various ports and plugs and still allows you to operate the camera without any obstruction. This protection, however, does come at a price—it ups the total weight of the case and tablet by a third. So it comes down to protection versus weight. For me, protection wins out.

Installation

Unlike my experiences with some iPad cases I have used, installing the XOOM into the Defender case was pretty involved. You will want to have the instructions handy when attempting to do so.

The first step is to install the XOOM into the “permanent” silicone shell. You must first separate the silicone from the hard plastic in order to remove the plastic rim. Once you have done this, insert the XOOM into the soft shell and fit the plastic rim around the tablet. Finally, you reattach the silicone around the edges to secure the XOOM in place. This half of the case makes holding the XOOM much easier because of the silicone. It also protects the base of the tablet from scratches. The biggest drawback I found was that the silicone attracts a fair amount of dust, hair and other particles. This piece also has a plastic covering for the camera lens, protecting it from scratches.

The second half of the Defender case provides the heavy-duty protection from bumps and drops. This hard polycarbonate piece snaps in place to enclose the XOOM when traveling. It protects the screen and overlaps the four corners to help protect from drops. However, there is a noticeable gap between the screen and the hard shell, which, in my opinion, just adds unnecessary width to the overall unit.

The polycarbonate piece also serves as a two-position stand—one for typing and another for reading or watching videos. However, it is intended for landscape viewing only.

It is worth noting that, while the Defender offers a good amount of protection, it is not waterproof.

Access to Ports

One of the biggest complaints I have with many of the cases I have used for tablets is that they sometimes cover vital ports—charging, headphone, etc.—so you need to remove the case to fully interact with the tablet. Otterbox, however, has taken this into consideration. There are cutouts for all the jacks and the power and volume buttons have raised silicone coverings for easy location and manipulation. You can even power the XOOM on and off when you have the shells stacked underneath each other.

If you are using the XOOM with a docking station, the Defender also has a larger flap that you can open for charging and full dock use, a feature I haven’t found on many other cases.

Added Weight & Bulk

As I mentioned earlier, the level of protection the Defender provides does come with a drawback—the added weight and bulk. For me, this isn’t a big deal. I feel that if I am paying several hundred dollars for a piece of electronics, I should be willing to sacrifice something for adequate protection. Others may disagree, since the case adds about 60% more weight and almost doubles the thickness with both shells attached. If you are willing to forego the polycarbonate piece except when travelling, the main shell adds about 33% more weight and about 75% in thickness.

Price

The Defender sells for $90 from Otterbox, but is available for considerably less from various sellers at Amazon.com. This makes it one of the more expensive cases I have looked at. However, I feel the price premium is worth the protection the case offers.

Final Verdict

The Otterbox Defender case for the Motorola XOOM offers serious protection. If you are looking for a slim, unobtrusive case, this is not for you. However, for someone such as myself who oftentimes is carrying my XOOM in a gym bag, I think it is great. Since I am looking for good, all-around protection, I am not turned off by the added weight and bulk the case gives to the XOOM. Furthermore, the $90 price tag is more than justified given its rugged construction and protection. Overall, I would recommend this case for someone who travels extensively with their XOOM and wants it well-protected.

Otterbox Motorola XOOM Defender Series Case

http://www.otterbox.com/MOTOROLA-XOOM-Defender-Series-Case/MOT2-XOOM1,default,pd.html?dwvar_MOT2-XOOM1_color=20&start=3&cgid=defender-series-cases

$89.95 (currently $51.99 from Amazon.com)

Pros

  • Solid, all-around protection
  • Easy access to ports
  • Dock compatible

Cons

  • Considerable weight and bulk
  • Expensive relative to other cases
  • Silicone portion of shell collects dust, hair, etc.

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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