Although it arrived a bit late to the game for the iPad 2 — shipping began a month and a half after the launch of the third-generation iPad — Uncommon’s Deflector for iPad 2 ($60) is certain to appeal to users of Apple’s last-gen tablet. As with previous Deflectors, this case is a hard plastic shell, specially inked and laminated with either a photo you upload to Uncommon’s site, or art that’s available for free with the shell purchase. Clearly, the appeal lies in the personalization.
Among the many, many shells we’ve seen, Deflector’s coverage falls into the average range. The long sides come all the way around, snapping over the aluminum edges on the front of the tablet. Both the top and bottom stop just a bit short, however, unnecessarily leaving slivers of silver exposed.
We prefer shells that go all the way to all four edges, but it’s better than the many that leave half an inch or so open at either side. Otherwise, there are the expected openings for the rear camera, speaker, and side switch. There’s built-in volume rocker coverage, which is a bit of a rarity for hard plastic cases, though the tabs could snap off if snagged on something. And we really like the minimalist packaging Uncommon continues to use—a reusable zip-top plastic bag.
In the past, customers had the option of either using either Uncommon’s website or its iPhone app to design their cases. The app has disappeared, however, leaving only the site.
That’s really quite fine, as the web tool is quite easy to use. The company also offers the option of superimposing text on the image, if you so desire, though font choices are limited and the tool seemed a little buggy when we tested it. We found the level of detail preserved from our digital image to the pretend case to be respectable, rather than ideal, and colors varied somewhat in accuracy; our super high-resolution image looked very similar on Deflector to the original, but with a slight shift in the purples, and lower detail in the whites and grays. That said, the results were better than we’ve seen from rival photo transfer cases. Viewed from about a foot away, it’s a pretty nice reproduction.
Beyond Deflector’s lack of more comprehensive iPad coverage, the biggest issue is price: $60 is a lot to pay for an iPad shell—twice what uncustomized options cost.