The Pelican ProGear Vault for the iPad Air (model CE2180) is a seriously tough case for the iPad Air. If you regularly take your iPad into harm's way and still want to be able to access ALL of the ports and switches, this is your case.
Size and Fit
The Vault, as expected, is engineered to fit your iPad Air perfectly. It does however, add approximately 1 pound to the weight of your device, and makes it about twice as thick (not counting the built-in cover). It also adds about 1/2 inch all the way around so expect your device to be about 1 inch wider and 1 inch taller once installed.
Features and Quality
Long before there was Otterbox or Lifeproof, Pelican was making super rugged and waterproof device cases. Of course, these mostly took the form of dynamite-proof nylon suitcases and briefcases filled with pick-and-pluck foam. When Apple ignited the smartphone gold rush (and later the tablet boom) Pelican was slow to pivot, and was caught flat-footed, while other case manufacturers rushed in to fill the void. Their first products to market in the mobile era were mostly custom backpacks and waterproof luggage designed to lock your devices away, safe from harm but completely unusable. Well, Pelican's finally delivered with a fully accessible iPad case worthy of the brand.
Constructed of polycarbonate and aluminum with an optical grade glass cover over the camera, this thing is tough. In fact, I will go out on a limb here and say that this it's clearly designed more with work in mind than play. Oh, you can still get at all the ports and switches, and even the speakers work, but considering that it takes about 15 minutes to install thanks to the numerous hex nuts that must be individually tightened with the included allen wrench, it just feels like its targeting those individuals who regularly and systematically punish their tablets in extreme conditions, but still need full, nearly unfettered access.
Following the current market trend, there is no screen cover to get between you and your device (a definite plus; I HATE screen covers). The case forms a tight seal directly against your iPad's glass screen. However, instead of relying on plastic clasps to keep out the water/dirt/mud like most consumer-targeted cases, Pelican chose to sacrifice convenience for security by opting for the above-listed 15 hex nuts. Once installed, your iPad will be secure in an IP54 rated case (water resistance and momentary submersion) and will also rated MIL-STD 810G for resisting environmental stresses such as vibration, impact, temperature shock, sand/dust, acidic atmosphere, and explosive atmosphere (seriously, explosive atmosphere!). These are but a few of the 29 tests that are required for MIL-STD-810G certification. The Vault also has a built-in screen cover, that is held in place by an aluminum hinge that looks even tougher than the rest of the case. Although not SmartCover compatible, it provides unparalleled screen protection for when your device is not in use, and also doubles as a stand for viewing in landscape mode when folded back. Lastly, The Pelican ProGear Vault comes with a lifetime warranty against defects and workmanship.
The Vault could never be described as stylish by most people's standards, but it does have those je ne sais quoi Pelican lines that stand out from the crowd, and will put it right at home anywhere where there's real work to be done. On the other hand, it's understated enough that laying it down for an office meeting would be unlikely to raise any eyebrows thanks to its clean, simple design. The Vault is available in black or white, although the color variations only affect the silicone seal; the case itself only comes in black.
If you regularly use your iPad in punishing environments, this is the best protection you can currently get without locking your device away. It's seriously rugged, and designed to outlast your iPad; and possibly you.
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4.5 What's Hot: Serious commercial-grade moisture/drop protection for your iPad Air. What's Not: Difficult and time-consuming to install and remove. Price: $99.95 Web site: Pelican