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GIVEAWAY: Geeks! At the end of this review learn how to win either a BRAND NEW Thunderbolt or Galaxy Tab Case!

OtterBox has been more than generous with PPCGeeks and has sent me a whole box full of cases for review, overnight shipping from across the continent from the U.S. To Canada at that! They even sent me cases to devices I do not even own just so I can take a look at them and see the quality is consistent across devices for their case models. About 3.5 – 4 weeks ago I was greeted with a large box from FedEX, I assumed was full of air. Oh no, it was full of 5 cases for me to fondle, use and test out in general. Here is a list of what I got in the box: 1 Samsung Galaxy Tab Defender, 1 HTC Desire Defender, 1 HTC Desire Commuter, 1 HTC Desire Z/ G2 Commuter, and last but not least one HTC Desire HD / Arrive Commuter.

Today I am going to focus on my review, toughs and general expectations, and if they were achieved for the Samsung Galaxy Tab Defender, HTC Desire Commuter and Defender cases. Since I was able to spend approximately 4 weeks of hands on with these cases.

Some of you may be asking Jeff, what are the differences between the Defender and the Commuter? So I’ll try to see if I can explain this and give some pros and cons based on how one would use the case and what applications/scenarios you may encounter and may present one case as better than the other.

The Galaxy Tab Review

The Defender for the Samsung Galaxy Tab is the only case they currently offered for the Galaxy Tablet, it is a very rugged case, and it fits extremely well. It comes in 3 parts to be assembled.

First we have the plastic hard case that is in two parts. The front has a screen protector built in that also doubles as a semi-water resistant seal around the screen that would help keep water out of the device if you happen to be using it in a bit of a drizzle outside or one of the kids gives you a shot with a squirt gun while you’re reading a book on the back deck. The backing clips on and I have to say it was rather hard to get it to clip on. The fit was so tight to the device and formed perfectly to every contour that it had to go on just so, straight and pretty much with an even pressure. I pinched my fingers a few times, it was not pleasant, but it was not a big deal. I’ll take perfect fit over a sloppy but easy to assemble fit anytime. After I got the first step done, attaching the hard under case to the Tablet, I kind of rolled it around in my hands, took a look at the seams and made sure it looked suitable as I am very specific about how my cases fit. I have to say it fits perfect, from the edges around the screen, to the cut outs for the microphone, camera and flash. They’re not even a hair line off and perfectly aligned and looks great.

The case itself is not waterproof so do not take my observation of the sealed screen protector front as such. It’s just a form of protection for the device, since I don’t know how many times I have been using it outside and caught a few rain drops that I was worried about leaking down the seam of the device where the screen meets the bezel.

Second is the rubber skin that goes on the outside of the hard case. It was dead simple to put on, all the holes for the microphone, speakers, USB, camera/flash and 3.5mm jack all lined up perfectly, not a single issue. The buttons also lined up perfect, which is one of my biggest issues with cases and why I hate most, if not all of them. The buttons either felt too stiff, did not line up right or the case maker just leaves cut outs for the buttons. This causes people like me with big hands to have to fight to get their fingers in the notch left out to hit the low profile buttons of the device. I’m pleased to say OtterBox has the best feeling buttons on their cases that I have ever used/felt on any cases. They feel perfectly natural and that’s what every case designer and manufacturer should try to achieve this as far as I’m concerned.

Third, we have the case/stand that the tablet can clip in face up or down depending on what you are doing, and what you prefer. The case is a hard plastic shell with rubberized feet that grips very well on most surfaces. This case will do a great job protecting the screen from impact as it has a good quarter inch or so gap between the case itself and the screen. It would take a lot of force to impact the screen, while holstering the device in the plastic shell. The shell also doubles as a fold up stand so you can prop the device up at a perfect viewing angle allowing you to relax with some Netflix while you do some homework on the back deck, or maybe watch some YouTube with a few friends while you’re waiting on something. The fold up stand is kind of stiff and you have to give it a hard tug to get it to come out of its notches that hold it flat in the case. I assume this is by design as you do not want the stand flopping around and hitting the screen of the tablet as it’s in the holster in your laptop bag, backpack or on the dash of your car.

All in all, I love the Defender on the Galaxy Tab. It suits my needs well. I am rough with it and I forget it’s in my bag and I give it a heave-hoe onto the floor in my office at least once weekly. It protects my investments about as much as you could possibly can, without putting it in a sealed safe and never using it. It feels very good in your hands and gives it a sturdy feel and a reassurance that it won’t slip from your grasp and drop to the ground. Over the leather fold up case that I bought from Samsung, this is the same price and much better quality and protection. If you’re looking for something to protect the device not just keep the dust off of it, don’t waste your time and money on a cheap fold over case. If I gave this a rating out of 5, it would be a 5. It is the best case out of the 4 I have so far. It may be the best case for this device period in my opinion.

The Desire Reviews

Next up is the Defender for the HTC Desire, this also comes in 3 parts. Maybe because of the size or just the design, but this inner hard case was much easier to put on the device without sacrificing quality or perfect fit.

Firstly, the hard case that, goes on under the rubber outer case, it again has a screen protector built in but because of the cut outs for the buttons on the front of the device I do not feel that this is an effective water-resistant screen protector like the tablets defender. It literally went on in a snap and was dead simple and quick to put on. On the front and back all cut outs that are required for the microphone, speaker, buttons, 3.5mm jack and the camera/flash are again perfectly cut and not even off by a single hair of measurement. The shell fits to the device perfectly.

Second part to this kit is the rubberized outer cover, the defenders all carry this rubber bump guard which also doubles as protection for the buttons, ports and gives your device a non-slip grip in general. Because of the design of this case the rubber shell was harder to put on then the hard case. It’s a little bit tedious, with larger hands like I have; it was hard to get the edges of the outer case to fit in the rail they are formed for on the edge of the inner case. After it’s on it fits well, in fact it fits just as perfect as the inner case and again the buttons feel perfect and natural when pressing. The case is not restrictive and will not get in the way of your usage.

Last part is pretty simple, it’s the belt holster. The device fits like a glove in it and this can again allow the device to click in face out or face in. It’s not much to talk about really, it’s useful, and I enjoy having the use of it. It ratchets so you can wear it on either hip or orient the device how you prefer. The quality is in par with the rest of the case.

My last opinions and thoughts on this are mixed though. The case itself and the protection it offers is top notch. However, I had some issues with my review model that I cannot say for sure are consistent with all the defenders or if mine was flawed in some way. The two things that were the deal breakers for me as my every day case were the fact the outer rubber shell kept falling off, it would start to come off on the edges because the rails it sits in are rather small and hard to get the rubber case to attach right to them in the first place. The second is this case design somehow ended up getting a very large amount of dust and debris from the air around me, and or my pocket under the screen protector. After a 2 week use of the case it was utterly filthy under the screen protector. Either of these issues that may only be localized to my review unit did not affect the usage of the device, more of an annoyance really, and it may be because I’m very picky about my cases. I have a pile of about 6 Desire cases; I hate every single one of them. 85% don’t fit the device or the buttons are stiff and annoying. The other 15% are a hazard to my health with sharp edges from the poor manufacturing process. If I have to rate this case I would give it a 4 out of 5 for my minor annoyances. The holster is useful, I loved it. Wish it worked on the commuter!

Lastly we have the Commuter for the HTC Desire. I’m going to open this with saying this is by far the best case I have ever used. It is my favorite case out of the lot, and it will be my every day case until I retire this device.

This case comes in 3 parts as well. First is the inner case that is rubberized, which is opposite of the defender cases. It just slips on, there is nothing to say about it it’s just that easy. The buttons are perfect, 100% natural and lined up with the devices buttons. The cut out for the 3.5mm jack is so precise when closed you cannot even tell the rubber has been cut. Now that’s what I’m talking about for a dust seal! I also appreciate the USB cover with the little rubber nub that sticks out and goes inside the USB port when you close the flap keeping all my pocket filth and other debris out of the port with the extra protection of the rubber nub.

The second part is the plastic outer shell that just pops right on in with a quick snap. It acts as an impact guard for the edges and makes sure you’re not going to bang it up with a simple drop or fall. I’ll admit I dropped the Desire on purpose a few times with this case just to see how it would react. It is still in perfect working order and I am very happy.

The last part of this case I would classify as optional. It’s a screen protector and it’s straight forward and fits as it should. I declined to keep it on as I don’t feel a need for it on the desire as the screen is scratch proof. I am also not a fan of how screen protectors can gather debris and look disgusting after weeks of use. So I opted out of this. But it does fit as it should and work well when it is installed. It does not restrict any device functions.

Over all this case is a winner in my books. Congratulations OtterBox, this is the first case I have not cast away from my desire with spite and malice. Not that I did this with the Desire Defender but this case suits my needs better so it wins the show. 5 out of 5 rating on this one. It’s a perfect match to my style and it just fits and feels great. If it had a holster, I think I’d have to raise the rating bar to show how pleased I would be with it. However, it does not. Hint Hint OtterBox.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, If you take my opinion for what you figure it’s worth, OtterBox should be one of your first cases to look into if you want one that can suit your needs. With quality, no restriction of functionality and usage, and fits the device properly. If you’re a little rough with your devices or work/play in a rough environment, the defender is for you. That baby will survive impacts other cases cry and crumble over. It’s for the person who wants to lock up there device to keep it in shiny new condition while still being able to use it. If you’re a light user, or want something smaller to fit in your pocket only and don’t need anything too bulky but want uncompromising protection for your device, the commuter case is your fit. It adds little to the form factor of the device, is pocket friendly, feels and fits amazing and just looks great. Any OtterBox case will be a perfect fit from functionality wise with little to no annoying issues that almost all cases I have used suffer from. If you have a premium device, why not protect it with one of the luxury line of cases. I loved mine so much, I went out and bought a commuter for both of my girlfriends Blackberries and her iPhone.

Hey Geeks, Laos101 here – Mr.X did an awesome review, but we also want you to tell us what you think of Otterbox’s and have a chance to win one of your own!

here’s how you can win either an BRAND NEW OTTERBOX DEFENDER for Galaxy Tab or COMMUTER for the HTC Thunderbolt

Just REPLY to this post, stating you want either the Tab or the Thunderbolt case, and we’ll randomly choose one winner for each device and ship it to them!

Good luck to you geeks! We’ll wrap things up on the 24th of June (06/24/11), which gives you a little over a week! One entry per person, and HAVE FUN!