First things first: go ahead and get the giggles out. iBallz, though a clever play on words because they resemble eyeballs (the company’s logo plays on the resemblance), tend to attract polite tittering whenever discussed in an abstract sense.
Make no mistake, however; these babies offer some serious protection. Coupled with the newly-introduced Lid case, iBallz could possibly be the most secure protection your iPad will ever enjoy short of being locked up in a vault…and what good would it do you in a vault anyway? All around one of the best and most novel case designs out there, iBallz offers both superior drop protection and unflagging ability as a conversation starter. Uses for a set of iBallz range from simple drop protection to hanging an iPad in the kitchen to inspiring their very own theme song composed for use in product testing (you may feel the need to giggle again, so listen at your own risk).
Be Seein’ You
The iBallz is best described as a harness for iPads; four foam balls sit on the four corners of the iPad, and are held taut with an elastic cord running around them. s with many things that appear simple, the genius is in the infinite variety of uses for which they are suited. The main goal of a set of iBallz is to prevent the iPad’s corners, screen, or back from coming into contact with any flat surface, such as a table, the floor, or asphalt in the event of a drop.
The 1.25″ (ish) foam balls elevate the iPad from direct contact with the ground on all sides, giving the added benefit of also avoiding contact with potentially wet or sticky surfaces. Kids and teachers both will love the protection offered from the occasional drop or juice/glue/unidentifiable body fluid-covered surface, while adults using iPads in harsher environments will appreciate the rugged shock absorption that iBallz offers should you drop that iPad. Drops onto jagged surfaces such as stairs may still cause damage to an iPad if they strike anywhere but on a corner, but for a majority of places the iBallz (and not your iPad) will absorb the impact of the fall.
Applying iBallz to an iPad or other tablet is a cinch, though the company does offer several sets of instructions both on the package as well as online. There are now two sets of iBallz: the original, specifically designed for iPads (or other large tablets), and the iBallz Minis, designed for smaller tablets/ereaders (those with 7″ or smaller screens).
iPad owners should note the ball marked with the power symbol, as it features an extra cutout to accommodate the sleep switch on top of the iPad. A simple bungee clip is available for a tighter fit, along with a velcro stopper to hold the cord in place one everything is good and snug. The elastic cord holding the balls in place doubles as a handle or hanger, and the genius of its design means it actually tightens the grip of the balls on the iPad when in use, ensuring a secure fit. Removing one ball and folding it behind the iPad offers a relatively stable inclined posture for the iPad, similar to the Smart Cover’s typing angle, though tapping the screen near the corner with the missing ball does cause the iPad to teeter-totter.
Best of all, the iBallz do not obstruct any of the ports/switches and in no way encroach on the iPad’s screen, as some wraparound cases do.
Uses for an iBallz-equipped iPad are countless, and may include:
Hanging as a picture frame.
Hanging in a car for portable entertainment.
Protecting your iPad when in use by children/klutzy friends/spastic owners.
Use of iPad in extreme sporting situations such as skateboarding or biking.
Use of iPad as a map when hiking.
Use your imagination.
Put a Lid on It
To complement your new set of iBallz (along with the many people who will, completely unsolicited, also comment on your iPad protection scheme), check out the Lid case. Basically a super-soft faux fur folder case (you will want to pet it, and that is okay), the Lid slots inside the bungee cord of your iBallz and wraps around the iPad to protect the screen and back of the device, while the iBallz protect the corners. Together, the iBallz+Lid cover the entire surface of the iPad in a shock-absorbing bubble. The Lid folds like a box with two short flaps on the top and bottom of the screen and one long flap that folds across the entire device with a Velcro fastener around the back. Opening the Lid is like opening a box: Undo the Velcro, unfold each of the flaps, and fold them back around. The Velcro closure is reversible, and forms a handy strap that allows for one-handed use when properly fastened; the two shorter flaps also serve to stand the iPad in landscape orientation at an ideal height for movie watching or web browsing
Uses for an iBallz+Lid-equipped iPad may include:
Teachers conducting a class who need one hand free.
Transport and use of an iPad in any high-impact environment.
Packing an iPad in checked luggage on an airline (no guarantees where it will end up, but it will be in one piece when it gets there).
Again, use your imagination.
The Lid case does not technically function on its own without a set of iBallz (which are sold separately), so this rating treats them as a single unit. Although the Lid is technically usable on its own, it will function only as a sleeve to partially protect the iPad; all four corners are exposed with cutouts where a set of iBallz should be. For light protection while in a purse or briefcase, the Lid by itself is certainly competent (and Smart Cover compatible), but for the full features like one-handed strap and tilt use, a set of iBallz is required.
For situations where iPads that do not shatter when dropped are more important than having the absolute skinniest tablet, iBallz and a Lid case are a winning combination. And even where added bulk is not necessarily wanted, the funky look and great protection offered more than make up for the added bulk.