No, this isn’t a post about the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. It is instead focused on a pair of review items for my beloved iPhone and iPad that recently made their way into my possession. Both, it seems, draw very specific inspiration from that paragon of patience and pacing, the turtle.
And I like turtles.
The TRTL BOT Shell is a nice solution for those looking for a case that offers more protection than Apple’s own Smart Cover. Its big, bold plastic design is every bit as novel as its little brother, the KidSafe iPhone cover, but significantly more functional. Protecting both the iPad’s back and shielding its sensitive touchscreen with a thick bumper, the Shell adds noticeable bulk for all the right reasons.
Like the KidSafe it offers a simple “lock” – in this case an easily retractable plastic piece that can be slid into position to block access to the Home button – that prevents your geeklings from changing apps without your supervision, but it bundles this feature within a sturdy cover that lives up to its name. An adjustable handle doubles as a desktop stand and makes everything from movie watching to transporting your iPad 2 safer and more comfortable. It also boasts a hollow channel within its frame that pipes the sound from the tablet’s speakers forward toward the user, and there’s even a pair of secure eyelets that will support the addition of a shoulder strap. These are small design tweaks, sure, but they add something to the case as a whole.
Solidly constructed and featuring all the relevant cutaways, the TRTL BOT Shell isn’t your average case, but that’s not to say it’s perfect. Though it fits the iPad 2 like a glove, the actual installation process can be a bit of a pain. Aligning the snap-together tabs alone would be troubling enough even if the securing latches and extendable handle didn’t rattle around like BBs in a box car. Still, once you get the Shell properly aligned and locked into place it does offer a nice blend of comfort, protection and functionality, especially for those of us that routinely share our tablets with our little ones.
At $75 the price is nothing to sneeze at and even with the slide-lock disengaged you really have to lean on the Home button to make contact through all that plastic, but this product from TRTL BOT does serve to make the iPad a more enticing shareable device. Whether around the conference table or during a family reading session, it adds more to the iPad experience than it takes away.
Another gadget taking a cue from the humble tortoise is the Turtle Shell wireless boombox by Outdoor Technology. Available in seven bold colors, this speaker solution features full, rich sound and pairs easily with most smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled electronics. There’s a built-in microphone for taking or receiving calls, its USB rechargeable battery offers up to 10 hours of juice and there’s even a 3.5mm line-in for use with additional devices.
Yet this grocery list of positives doesn’t even touch on the Turtle Shell’s most impressive feature: its durability.
Water- and dust-resistant, the Turtle Shell was made to go wherever you want to take it, from poolside to your dingiest workspace. An integrated clip notch lets you easily hook the speaker to practically any carabiner, and its threaded base mount means you can attach it to any standard camera accessory. For geeks on the go there’s also the specially designed Turtle Claw, an all-purpose mount that can be quickly clamped on to your bike or even your kid’s stroller.
My only hesitation regarding the Turtle Shell is the price. Listing for around $150, it’s quite the investment. There is, however, a less expensive option. Though already available at retail, Outdoor Tech has turned to Kickstarter to help crowdsource funds to ramp up production. Backers at the $99 level can secure a Turtle Shell of their very own, and for $125 can receive the speaker as well as the Turtle Claw mount. Quantities are limited, so hit up the Kickstarter quickly if you’re interested in copping one at a discount.