Gumdrop Drop Tech Series Review – Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Edition

October 10, 2011
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Some people have no fear when it comes to bringing their electronics everywhere they go, but that’s not me though! I’ve had a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 since it’s U.S. launch day, and I’ve always been afraid to bring it to work or let the kids play with it. It’s not that the tablet feels cheap, or that I think it’s likely to break, but simply because this is a very thin $500 electronic that I don’t have the luxury of insurance for. But, that’s where companies like Gumdrop have really stepped in, to protect our electronics from some of the worst we can throw at them, and thankfully, some of these companies build their cases like tanks. Gumdrop cases are a great type of case for a tablet as they have good grip and at the same time offer the protection you need.

First impressions

Most first impressions and excitement start with the box of a new toy, although a protective case for a gadget usually doesn’t garner the same excitement. One thing I noticed when opening the Drop Tech case is that I felt like I was opening up a toy in itself. The retail packaging was very pleasing to look at, it was one of the nicest boxes for a protective case I’ve ever seen. I should know – I’ve purchased 5 cases total between my two tablets and have done many hours staring at more on store shelves. But once you pop the case out of the box all attention is onto the Gumdrop case. The first thing I noticed about the case was how rigid it was without even having a tablet in it yet. One of my first thoughts was, “this thing will be like an Iron Man suit for my Galaxy Tab!”

Build quality & design

The build quality is top notch, just like you would expect from a serious case manufacturer, every piece is purposefully shaped with style, durability or ergonomics in mind, and the manufacturing is very precise. I haven’t noticed anything out of place or any issues in the fine details. The seam between the silicone body and the plastic skeleton fit together in a way I’ve never seen before in an item that is supposed to be taken apart at that seam. There are slots in the skeleton around the screen where you feed silicone tabs into, and they hold so firmly that when I started to disassemble it for installing onto my Galaxy Tab I stopped because I actually wasn’t sure I was supposed to take that apart and decided to look for an access point somewhere else. It was so tight that when I finally did take it apart I thought to myself, “This will never go together that nice again…” Boy was I wrong, once you reassemble it, this case isn’t budging and it looks like it never was taken apart in the first place. It fits perfect and it’s on there till you mean to take it off. This is a no joke protective case, all others feel halfway implemented in comparison. Of no surprise with this tight of fit and finish, all the cut outs, ports and their covers are precision designed, cut, and work beautifully.

Operation

As a paranoid owner of electronics, one issue I often have to deal with is poor fitting buttons on cases. The rigid TPU case on my old myTouch 4G was the worst, pushing the power button to turn it on was a chore and often needed way too much strength to actuate it. Now, I know you get what you pay for, but the button control on this Iron Man suit work as easy if not easier than the stock design. The size of the button nubs are very pronounced, yet they don’t ever get accidentally pressed. The volume rocker works like gravy and the nice little raised reminders on the + and – always help to remind me which one is which, it tends to happen as you fiddle with too many electronics. The case has a built in screen protector to guard your screen, its built right into the skeleton, and, from what I read, its replaceable if it gets scratched. This does nothing to lessen the touch sensitivity or accuracy of the screen. The built in protector also covers the front facing video camera and the light sensor, which does not result in interfering with the operation of either one. There are also two flip open doors that protect the dock port and the headphone jack that are made out of thick silicone and have been holding up good to the ten day open and close trial I’ve given them. So far, I’ve seen no wearing out or tearing of these openable hatches. From my experience the controls of the tablet are totally unhindered by this case, if not actually made more usable. Its all win, win, win.

Protection

The speaker holes and rear camera are the only parts of the case that are left open to any dust, dirt or object intrusion. I’ve not noticed anything getting into these openings to come in contact with the tablet inside so far, but it will happen one day. Otherwise this case has finally made me comfortable to THROW my tablet into my work truck. Yes, I did say throw. I don’t even worry about it taking any impact because the back side of this case looks like an off-road tire, nothing is going to puncture the back side and actually stab through to the case to damage my expensive toy. So, I open the door and chuck it like a frisbee now. It’s actually quite liberating. I’ve comfortably used my tablet outside in the rain without worrying that the screen shouldn’t have large amounts of water on it. Also, ย I now let my 2.75 year old and my 1.25 year old play with it and drop it on the hardwood floor without a scratch. Tablet freedom!

Alternative options

If you work in an environment that is even too harsh to allow any ports to be unguarded on the case, Gumdrop has a green colored Military Edition version designed for additional protection. On that one there are no bare openings without increased protection. The camera lens has a screen protector like material over it to permit camera shots while having a layer of protection, as well as micro film dust covers are stretched over the speaker openings so dust won’t ruin your tablet. This option commands a price increase of only $10 more, and I wish I opted for this option. It would make me a little more comfortable using it on the jobsite. The other Android tablet they currently make a Drop Tech and Military Edition case for is the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. The Drop Tech series is available in black on black, black around the screen with a black silicone body. Red on Black, red around the screen with a black body. Black on Pink, and Black on White. The Military Edition is strictly Black on Army Green. The only downside to any tablet protection is the incompatibility with the Transformers keyboard attachment or my Galaxy Tabs Keyboard Dock. I’ve now decided to sell my Keyboard Dock and buy a Bluetooth Keyboard, because nothing is coming between me and my DropTech case.

Final impression

I’ve used a lot of cases, none of them have the durability of the Gumdrop Drop Tech cases. I can’t name you a folio case or slip cover that I would be comfortable throwing my Galaxy Tab in the back seat with my nail bags, and yes – I’ve done that. Seriously though, if you would like the freedom to use your tablet out and about, and possibly at locations considered ‘dangerous’ for your average electronic, this is the case for you. Its worth every penny for peace of mind.

Gumdrop Drop Tech Galaxy Tab 10.1 case. $49.95

Gumdrop Drop Tech Military Edition Galaxy Tab 10.1 case. $59.95

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