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It’s no secret that I love my iPad 2 as much as a girl could love a flat little rectangle filled with wonder, magic and endless bits of useful (and sometimes not so useful) information that comes from simply tap, tap, tapping on a glossy screen.

Today, iPads go everywhere. They’re stashed in briefcases in court rooms and board rooms. Others are nestled in extravagant designer bags, kept out of harm’s way as their owners strut through Saks in Louboutin heels. But there are iPads that lead rough and tumble existences. They perform blue collar jobs or find themselves tossed in the car as maps and, on occasion, they end up at the beach or even on camping trips. Those tablets don’t need to be cozied, they require hardcore protection. And, with that in mind, I was interested in checking out the Ballistic Tough Jacket when a PR rep offered to send one my way. Look, I’m not going to bang my iPad around for the sake of a review, but I’ll definitely put the jacket through its paces.

Ballistic Tough Jacket for iPad 2 and 3, $34 through amazon.

ipad2_tj_red_web_003

The Ballistic Tough Jacket in red-and-black. Shown without the screen cover.

First look: The company tag line, “designed to survive life!” is pretty telling. This bunker for your iPad comes in three pieces – each designed for a specific task to keep your tablet safe from, well, life. First, the soft silicone sleeve fits snugly over the back and sides of the iPad. It features four thick bumpers that provide a cushion to absorb shock. Next comes the impact-resistant hard plastic back cover that snaps over the silicone sleeve. Think of this rigid layer as a tortoise shell. Finally, there’s a tough shock absorbent polymer screen cover with an adjustable kickstand. This triple whammy keeps your iPad happy and free of scars. You can choose from black-and-white or red-and-black.

ipad2 back

Screen cover, silicone sleeve with corner “bumpers” and back cover.

Good news: I don’t know about you, but there are times when my iPad feels like an extension of my hand. It’s with me everywhere, and I reach out to grab information when I’m cooking, hanging outside with the dogs, watching television, driving, and even in bed. It’s dangerous work being my iPad sometimes. But, now that I use the silicone sleeve and plastic shell, I worry less about dropping the tablet or having it slip out of my hands when Dexter or Luke insist on getting some attention. The corner bumpers make it easy to grip and the sleeve and cover fit perfectly to accommodate the iPad’s camera lens and various switches, speakers and port. They’re all easily accessible. The plastic shell has a soft, matte back so that the iPad won’t slip when you’re holding it. The screen cover easily snaps onto the back, and the adjustable kickstand allows for hands-free use.

Bad news: Bear in mind that a Kevlar jacket is not a Ralph Lauren blazer. The Ballistic Touch Jacket isn’t going to win any beauty contests with its bulky utilitarian design. And there are three pieces to deal with. When you snap the screen cover on the back while holding your iPad, it feels a bit hefty.

ipad2 screen cover

Screen cover with built-in adjustable kickstand.

Last words: I have plenty of snazzy uptown covers for my iPad, but when I want to keep my tablet safe and in pristine condition during rough play, I make sure it slips into its Ballistic Tough Jacket.