When you invest a significant chunk of coin in a new iPad, you want to keep it safe, right? Well, some cases are safer than others. But what if you don't to go the full Lifeproof and turn your sleek slate into a bulky blob? Logitech's new BLOK cases for the iPad Air 2 are super stylish, incredibly well put together, and will protect your shiny new iPad Air 2 from a 6-foot drop -- albeit with a cost.
What Is It?
Logitech is undergoing a transformation from boring, staid keyboard-and-mouse-and-headset accessories company into a new, fun, friendly, fashion-forward brand -- that's the new Logi, in case you were wondering. The BLOK protective iPad cases are its first product release in its fancy modern iteration, and just for the iPad Air 2 there are three models available in the $49.95 Logi BLOK Protective Shell, the $99.95 Logi BLOK Protective Case, and the $149.95 Logi BLOK Protective Keyboard Case, all of which are coming soon to Australia through a bunch of retailers as well as Logitech's online store.
What's It Good At?
These cases, as you'd expect, are supremely well built. The materials used -- super-sturdy ABS plastic, flexible rubberised fabrics, and strong-yet-spongy rubber on the edges and corners. Take a peek inside those corners -- with the protected iPad removed, obviously -- and you'll see a reinforcing structure that budges if you push on it hard enough, but will otherwise remain strong and protect the edges and corners of whatever tablet is inside should push literally come to shove and your The only downside is that it's actually quite difficult to get an iPad into the BLOK cases, and even harder to get it out.
I'm a bit clumsy. I've actually dropped my iPad Air 2 more times than it should have survived (although I'm not quite as bad as Luke), with and without a case on it. And, true to form, I've dropped my iPad with a BLOK case on it, more than a couple of times, using both the basic Protective Shell and the fully-featured Protective Keyboard Case. A couple of times were, of course, intentional -- you gotta test that it does what it says on the tin, right? The proof is in the pudding -- my iPad remains unscathed.
The cases themselves stand up to punishment as well, and have remained almost perfectly clean and free of scratches despite a couple of domestic plane trips, regular use on public transport and down in my garage with grease-stained fingers, and the regular punishment of being thrown into a satchel with keys and multitool and various other sharp objects jangling around inside. It must have a pretty decent oleophobic coating to push those grease marks away so easily. Just about the only identifying mark showing the fact that I've given the Keyboard Case hell is a tiny little, two-millimetre-wide puncture on the kickstand's lower edge.
The keyboard accessory bundled with the BLOK Protective Keyboard Case is excellent. Logitech promises two years of battery life from the keyboard -- I haven't tested this, obviously -- based on two hours of daily use, which is definitely on the upper side of what I think is reasonable to expect from even a power user. It uses two little coin-size lithium ion batteries, and when they eventually die they can be easily replaced for another two years of life; I guess the only thing holding it back is when your iPad's Bluetooth stops working or whenever coin batteries stop being a thing.
What's It Not Good At?
The BLOK cases, especially with the Protective Keyboard Case's keyboard attachment included, are bulky. The iPad Air itself is a hair over 6mm thick, but the full Keyboard Case setup is 22mm thick -- nearly as thick as four iPads stacked. At this point, the BLOK quickly becomes something you need to find space for in a bag, rather than it sliding in easily. My 12-inch Retina MacBook is a more versatile machine in this instance, with similar battery life, a larger display, a better keyboard, a trackpad, and it's thinner. OK, it's three times the price of an iPad plus the Logitech BLOK case, but you get the idea.
The colour choices for the cases are less than inspiring, too. You can buy all three in a modern, sleek, professional black, but your other choices only extend as far as bright red plus violet and bright teal plus blue for the Shell and the Case, and teal/blue only for the Keyboard Case. They're certainly striking, to be fair -- no-one is going to miss your case if you accidentally drop it in the street and walk away -- but more colour options, especially slightly more subdued ones, would have been nice. At least this is (probably) a relatively straightforward thing for Logitech to take care of along the production line.
Should You Buy It?
Logitech's new BLOK cases, the first we've seen of the company with its stylin' new Logi branding, are a trio of good-better-best options -- you have the Protective Shell ($49.95), which keeps your iPad safe on both the front and back by virtue of a relatively thin layer of rubber, but it's those four corners that do the heavy lifting, compressing whenever the tablet is dropped on its edges or points. This same reinforcing honeycomb structure is used across all three of Logitech's cases, but you just trade up with more features if you're willing to spend a little more cash up-front and put up with extra bulk (and therefore protection).
The middle-of-the-road option, the Protective Case ($99.95), is probably the smartest purchase of the three. You get better protection for the iPad's front glass, as well as a flip cover that can be used as a kickstand over a bunch of different angles. That kickstand option is actually surprisingly versatile; you can adjust the iPad from almost horizontal to almost vertical with it, a solid 80 degrees of range that means it'll be a godsend for cramped plane and bus journeys. It's also arguably the most stylish, if you like that "construction site chic" thing that Logitech is going for with the BLOK in the first place.
I used the BLOK Protective Keyboard Case ($149.95) for the vast majority of my time with these new Logitech cases, though, because it represents genuine extra value thanks to its supremely capable little Bluetooth keyboard. The kickstand is markedly less versatile -- maybe only around 40 degrees of range from nearly vertical to nearly perfectly diagonal -- and it's significantly bulkier because of that. But the addition of that keyboard -- one of Logitech's best, with excellent battery life and good key travel, and easily superior to the Logitech PRO Tablet Case I already have for my Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 -- is useful if you're travelling or intending on working via iPad regularly.
As rubberised iDevice cases go, Logitech's BLOK family is just about the most sturdy I've seen. You're paying for the privilege of ensuring your tablet's safety, but for that $50/$100/$150 you're getting the piece of mind that you can accidentally drop your $600- or $800—plus iPad Air 2 and shatter its screen or bend its chassis. And, in the case of the Case and the Keyboard Case, you're picking up some useful extra functionality along the way.