Tuesday, April 17, 2012


For our Assistive Technology team the number was three. In the month of December we had three iPad-2’s break. All of our iPads were in thin protective cases. Really, just a credit-card thick plastic shell over the back of the device.

The first iPad broke when one of our students with Autism discovered the video camera, and how much fun it was to look at the iPad view of the room as he ran circles around the room. The last video is of him running, and a teacher in the background hollering “Joe! Joe! Quit running, you will break the iPad!”. This was followed by a thrill-cam view of the room, and than a black screen. (the student’s name was changed to protect the guilty). The result: shattered glass.

The second iPad became the object of tug-o-war between two high-school students. Evidently, one student unexpectedly let go, and the other caught off guard, accidentally let go as well. The iPad shattered on the ground.

The last broken iPad was my fault. Always wanting to be a good role model, and knowing the staff felt badly about allowing the ipads to be broken, I guess I felt I needed to contribute to the situation. I put my iPad in the backseat of my truck, and upon arriving at a school, opened the door to discover that the iPad had shifted on the seat. When the door opened the iPad was released to the perils of gravity. When the glass shattered on the third iPad I knew something needed to change.

Apple generously replaced the broken devices for $294.58 each. Certainly less than a new iPad, but still painful. It was time to look for some serious protection for our iPads. There are a number of offerings out there, but anything that seemed to provide real protection started at $60 and quickly went up. Now, I’m not saying it’s not worth the price, because $60 is definitely less than $294.58. However, we would need to outfit roughly 60 iPads. I needed to find a less expensive solution.

After searching the web I found a solution. It’s perfect, albeit not exactly elegant. Big Grips made by KEM seem to be made from the same rubber as Crocs. They are easy to grab, and provide a tremendous amount of protection. Everyone who sees them is intrigued, and likes the cartoon-like look. Most importantly, they offer great protection. All of our breaks occurred when the iPads fell to the ground and landed on their edges. Big Grips must have at least an inch of squishy rubber all around, like a picture frame. They come in different colors, including grey, pink, and green.

The Big Grip with a stand retails for $49.95 a piece. I emailed the company to get a quote, and all my correspondences were answered by Kirk Mills, the president of KEM. That’s a nice touch, though it may not last when the company grows. I originally felt the stands would be unnecessary, and asked Kirk to sell me just the frames without the stands. He gave me a volume discount price without the stands which was half the cost of the cheapest Otter Box, and then he threw in the stands for free. Once I saw students and staff use the stands, I realized that we wouldn’t want to go without! They are stable, and easy to use, allowing kids to use either hand to interact with the iPad.

There are just a few complaints, and they are minor. The first, takes care of itself with a little bit of time. When 60 cases and stands arrived in my office the rubber smell was very strong. I could barely stand to be in my room. After several days the smell had dissipated, or I’d become immune. When I sent them out, no one complained, so I think it was the newness and the pure numbers which overwhelmed me. I would add that Kirk confirmed to me that Big Grips are made of non-toxic materials, and as a product intended for children Big Grips are required by law to pass independent lab testing confirming this fact.

The other complaint is a bit more pragmatic. Accessing the charging port, headphones jack, and the volume, and on/off controls is difficult through the small holes with adult size fingers. It’s doable, but sometimes awkward.

Students and staff seem to really like Big Grips. We have them on our iPads, iPad-2’s, and when we upgrade to the new iPad, we will stick with this terrific product.

Happy therapy!

1 comment:

  1. I wrote this review a while ago. Since then, the folks at Big Grips have eliminated the strong new-smell. They have also made the port-holes considerably easier to access. I continue to be a huge fan of the Big Grip products.