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A Balance of Form & Function: NewerTech NuGuard KX for iPad mini

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OtterBox covers are very protective, but huge.

IDevices are expensive, relatively fragile, and highly portable, a combination that often results in pain and tears when owners scrape the remains of their mobile device off the pavement. Unsurprisingly, many companies sought to address this reality by creating rugged, ultra-protective cases that claim to keep our precious devices safe from all manner of physical trauma.

Some companies, like OtterBox, take this mission to the extreme. They provide incredibly durable cases that actually protect iPhones and iPads, but also add a significant amount of thickness and weight to the products. Also, these case styles often completely enclose the device, making removing the case for whatever reason a bit of a hassle (as a former Apple retail genius, I hated seeing customers approach the Genius bar with an iPhone in a OtterBox case because I knew I would have to spend the next five minutes pulling out the phone.)

Other companies take a more balanced approach by offering more protective cases that don’t add significant weight and are easy to remove when needed. One such company is NewerTech, the own brand of Apple’s former accessories company Other World Computing (OWC). Earlier this year, OWC released the NewerTech NuGuard KX Case for iPhone, a product that received rave reviews. It featured a sleek design that protected the closed iPhone with a layer of “X-Orbing” gel that provided cushioning during drops and impacts.

The NewerTech KX series seeks a compromise between form and function.

Now OWC is set to bring the same technology and design to the iPad mini. They sent us a sample NuGuard KX case for iPad mini, and after spending a week with it, we have some practical impressions to share.

Design

The NuGuard KX for the iPad mini shares a very similar design to its brother aimed at the iPhone. Its one-piece construction features a soft yet grippy rubber exterior combined with an “X-Orbing” gel padded interior. The entire case itself is quite flexible, giving it the ability to absorb as much of the force of an impact as possible.

Around the edges of the case are access points and buttons for all control and input functions of the iPad mini. The headphone jack, microphone, rotation switch, camera, speakers, and Lightning connector port are accessible through the spaces provided on the case, while the lock and volume switches have built-in buttons that physically go through the user’s pressure to the iPad button. under it.

The back of the case features an attractive modern pattern along with the NuGuard KX logo. However, the design pattern goes beyond looks and is textured to provide a bit of extra grip when holding.

Use

Installing (and removing) an iPad mini from NuGuard KX is quite simple, literally. Simply insert one corner of the iPad into the corresponding corner of the NuGuard KX, and then press down on the remaining corners. The tension holds the iPad firmly in place. When it’s time to remove it, simply pry one corner until the iPad is exposed, then pry out the remaining corners. It’s a design that should be familiar to most iDevice owners who have ever used a third-party case and allows you to insert and remove the iPad mini in just seconds.

Once the iPad mini is inserted into the case, you’ll notice that the NuGuard KX, at just 8 ounces, doesn’t add any noticeable weight. It adds a bit of thickness to the iPad mini, but a lot less than many other cases that advertise a similar level of protection. In fact, we sometimes find the iPad mini to be a bit too thin; difficult to hold and easy to drop. With NuGuard KX, we felt that the iPad was much easier to hold. The little extra girth and the grippy rear made all the difference.

While we were using the iPad mini on a daily basis on the NuGuard KX, we did not encounter any significant usability issues. The camera hole did not obstruct taking pictures and videos and the speakers sounded the same as without a case. The rotation lock switch was accessible, although those with large fingers may have a bit of a hard time reaching it in its recessed state. Also, the built-in step buttons for lock and volume work, but you need to press them from a more direct, perpendicular angle. Pressing them from an angle, as you can with native iPad buttons, does not always produce a response from the device. In other words, pressing the switches and buttons on the iPad without a case is definitely easier, but the NuGuard KX experience is satisfying considering the benefits the case offers.

Protection

OWC has several videos that demonstrate the protection that NuGuard KX offers, as well as the capabilities of the X-Orbing gel. The company announces that tests performed on NuGuard KX meet the requirements of military standards (MIL-STD-810G).

We didn’t have a huge flight of concrete stairs to test, but we ran a series of drop tests from a height of about five feet onto a hardwood table.

Our iPad mini survived all tests without a scratch. Based on our tests and OWC testing, we are confident that our iPad mini will survive most of the drops that we are likely to encounter on our daily commute.

However, one area of ​​concern is the display. The NuGuard KX doesn’t provide complete protection for the iPad screen, something some of the bulkier cases do. This omission was a necessary trade-off for the case’s reduced thickness and weight. Instead of a full-screen cover, the NuGuard KX has a noticeable magnification around the edge of the iPad screen.

This elevation, or lip, keeps the iPad screen off the surface when it lies face down. This should provide adequate protection for the most common scenarios where the iPad is dropped on a flat surface, such as a concrete floor or an asphalt parking lot. However, if the ground is uneven, such as a rocky path while hiking, a protruding rock or other object may hit and damage the screen. Potential buyers will have to weigh the benefits of a case like the NuGuard KX against its likely accidental drop scenarios.

Interested buyers who are concerned about scratches could also pair the NuGuard KX with any of a number of film-like screen protectors, which are fully compatible with the NuGuard design.

Testing aside, the case kept our iPad mini protected from all other hazards during our tests and the case itself, while dirty thanks to its textured surface, held up well and is easy to clean with a simple damp cloth.

Comes in black

We generally prefer dark colored accessories, but the NuGuard KX for iPad mini may not match everyone’s design taste. Unlike the NuGuard KX for iPhone, which comes in a variety of colors, the iPad mini version is currently offered only in a near-black color called “Darkness.”

While we wouldn’t recommend that those looking for glossy designs avoid the case altogether, if color is really a top priority, you’re likely not satisfied with the current option for the iPad mini.

general

We have to admit that although we watched the OWC crash videos repeatedly beforehand, we were nervous about running our own crash tests with our personal hardware. When you first unpack the NuGuard KX and see and feel it in person, it’s hard to believe that such a thin and light case can provide as much protection as the company claims. But after doing our own tests, we are believers.

Not only did the case protect our iPad mini, it also made it easier to hold. While the screen remains unprotected from direct blows, it is comforting to know that our iPad will be protected from the most common drops and falls.

The buttons and switches weren’t as easy to operate compared to a bare iPad, and we wish the case was available in more colors, but these are minor flaws in an overall excellent case. If you have an iPad mini (or any iDevice), you should definitely consider a case, and we have yet to see another case for the mini that offers a high level of protection in a thin and light package. At $ 40, it’s a good investment to protect your $ 329 + device.

The NewerTech NuGuard KX for iPad mini is available today from OWC for $ 39.99. It has a full 30-day return policy and a lifetime replacement guarantee.

NuGuard KX for iPad miniMaker: NewerTechModel: IPDMKXDKPrice: $ 39.99Compatibility: First generation iPad miniRelease date: January

Final remarks: A Balance of Form & Function: NewerTech NuGuard KX for iPad mini

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James Hogan
James Hogan
James Hogan is a senior staff writer at Bollyinside, where he has been covering various topics, including laptops, gaming gear, keyboards, storage, and more. During that period, they evaluated hundreds of laptops and thousands of accessories and built a collection of entirely too many mechanical keyboards for their own use.

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