The new iPad Air will arrive in stores the day after Halloween, so it's quite appropriate that the first iPad Air cases that we've received for review come from two companies with sweet names -- Hard Candy and Gumdrop. Today we'll look at a pair of cases from each company, and give four TUAW readers a chance to win a protective case for their new iPad Airs (and one can win a case for iPad 2/3/4 as well)
Hard Candy Shockdrop for iPad Air
Since I haven't yet had my hands on an iPad Air, the first thing that surprised me about this -- and all -- of the cases was how thin it seems. The Shockdrop (US$49.95) isn't exactly a svelte case thanks to an interior polycarbonate shell and outside silicone wrapper, but it's still amazingly easy to hold. The Shockdrop comes with built-in screen protection as well, so it's going to be able to put up with drops and bumps easily.
I personally like the bumpy texture of the back of the Shockdrop, as it makes it quite easy to grab the otherwise slick iPad. The Shockdrop comes in both basic black and a bright, bold red.
Hard Candy Squish for iPad Air
The aptly named Squish ($34.95) doesn't have the interior polycarbonate shell, just the squishy silicone wrapper. As such, it doesn't offer quite the level of protection of the Shockdrop, but it still has a textured surface for good grip and can definitely keep your new baby from being damaged if it slips onto the floor.
While the Shockdrop comes in just two rather normal colors, the Squish has colors as fun as its name: lime, pink and light blue. There's also a black case if you're not inclined towards those brighter shades.
Gumdrop Drop Tech Series for iPad Air
The Gumdrop Drop Tech Series ($59.95) is the equivalent of the Hard Candy Shockdrop, featuring that two-layer design for extra protection as well as a screen protector. The texture on the back is surprisingly like that of a good snow tire, and it keeps the enclosed iPad Air from sliding off of surfaces as well as firmly planted in your hand.
You have a few more color choices with the Drop Tech Series than you do with the Shockdrop: there's black/black (exterior silicone and interior polycarbonate), black/red and army green.
Gumdrop Bounce Skin for iPad Air
What the Squish is to the Shockdrop, the Gumdrop Bounce Skin ($34.95) is to the Drop Tech Series. In other words, it's a silicone skin with no interior polycarbonate shell. It has pretty much the same tire-tread texture on the back as the Drop Tech Series, and comes in a larger variety of colors: red, black, clear (really more like "translucent"), light blue, grey, pink, purple, royal blue and teal.
If you're looking for a way to protect your new iPad Air, the four new case designs from Hard Candy and Gumdrop are inexpensive and offer a great way to keep that investment looking new. The Hard Candy Shockdrop and Gumdrop Drop Tech Series both provide two-layer protection with a screen protector as well, while the Hard Candy Squish and Gumdrop Bounce Skin are both silicone skins that offer a good grip and some air and silicone cushion from drops.
And now, my gripe du jour: These cases are amazingly alike. The pricing is similar for the two-layer cases and the silicone skins. And despite the two different names of the manufacturers, they're both essentially from the same company run by founder and CEO Travis Hickman. So why mislead the public into believing that these are two different companies, considering that the only real difference in the lines is the color of the boxes and the name on the products? </rant off>
We're giving away the following items to TUAW readers: