If Nerf made an iPad case this would be it. And every iPad used by a child with autism needs to be outfitted with this. Heck, every iPad used by a child, autistic or not, should be outfitted with this. And it's available for iPad 1 or 2!
I've seen and read about many different iPad cases. If you have an iPad and a kid with ASD, you want to have the best protection possible for the iPad. (It goes without saying that you want to protect your child as well!) With the Big Grips frame from KEM Ventures, Inc. wrapped around your iPad you'll feel comfortable [gulp] drop testing this puppy on a porcelain tile floor. That says a lot. My son's iPad is the most expensive model Apple makes, 64 gig with 3G. I dropped it from about 4 feet up and I dropped it on a corner. The Big Grips frame absorbed the shock easily. In fact, the iPad bounced!
Notice that Big Grips calls this a frame, not a case or a skin. Don't be confused. They are all essentially the same thing. Cases, skins, and frames are all meant to protect your iPad. And I've seen few that protect it as well as the Big Grips frame.
When I opened the box the first thing I noticed was that it smelled like a new pair of basketball shoes. I love that smell. The cardboard boxes that encased the frame and stand were attractive and yet nondescript compared to most product boxes these days. Placing my son's iPad into the squishy, blue, foam frame was moderately easy, and once I got it in there I knew my son wouldn't remove it and it wouldn't fall out. That gave me an added sense of security.
When I performed the drop test the frame's "foaminess" caused it to bounce, as I mentioned above. You should know that if it gets dropped flat, like a pancake it doesn't bounce because the weight of the iPad is more evenly distributed over the surface of the frame. But if the frame lands on an edge or a corner it will bounce pretty good when dropped from an adult's hand at shoulder height. I mention this because your iPad can then bounce into something else, like the side of your refrigerator, and potentially damage the screen although this is not likely to happen. However, I'm a bit over 6 feet tall, and children won't be dropping it from nearly the same height which means it won't bounce nearly as much when dropped from a lesser height. Still, it's something you should know about.
The stand is a great compliment to the frame. It matches and it's also very functional. Using the Big Grips frame in conjunction with the stand gives you some nice options for displaying your iPad. You can lay it down against the sloping front of the stand or you can prop it up in the slotted stand. It just depends on what angle you want your iPad at. It's great for viewing pictures or videos. I've found that when my son isn't using it, I like his iPad to rest in the stand horizontally, otherwise known as landscape mode. It looks great!
The Big Grips frame gives you extra area to hold onto when using the iPad. I've used an iPad without a case and it's very slippery. It's sort of like trying to hold a live fish. Plus, the iPad is too narrow to securely hold onto.
The one thing I have an issue with is the size of the slots in the frame to access the controls. The slot for the power/sleep button is manageable, though I don't have especially large fingers and it may be more difficult for people with large fingers. The slot for the headphones and mic is no issue. Adjusting the volume can be tricky too.
But the slot for the 30-pin connector (dock connector) is tough to access for anyone but a child (or a very petite woman). It's difficult to line up the plug to get it into the slot correctly, especially with iPad 2. I ended up just removing the one end of the iPad from the Big Grips frame when charging or sync'ing and that solves the issue. That's probably what you'll want to do.
One time I managed to connect the 30-pin while the iPad was still in the frame. And when I went to remove the cable I realized that I had used a connector that has the little buttons on each side you have to depress to remove it. Uh oh. I was in trouble. The slot in the Big Grips frame around the connector is far too small to fit 2 of my fingers into. I had to seriously work to get that connector out.
Also, the rear facing camera lens on my iPad 2 is slightly obstructed by the Big Grips frame. It's just slight, but it's worth mentioning because one corner of all my pictures are marred by an unfocused bit of the frame. I think KEM Ventures could have centered the camera cut-out with a little more precision.
The dock connector will be used often by adults, even if the iPad is most often used by a child. Adults are the ones who do the sync'ing and charging. This slot in the frame definitely needs to be elongated and enlarged for adult fingers.
The Big Grips frame and stand comes in 4 colors; grey, pink, green, and blue. You can get one for the original iPad or the iPad 2, each are priced the same. The frame costs $34.95. That's pretty reasonable in my opinion. The stand is running $24.95. Buy a matching set of both the frame and stand for only $49.95. You can buy Big Grips frame and stand directly on Amazon.com or you can see their website.
KEM Ventures says the frame and stand are...
- Lead and latex-free
- Phthalate and PVC free
- Resistant to oils, chemicals, stains, molds and germs
- Lightweight, durable, and easy to clean
After dousing it with Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce I took a few bites from a corner of the frame. It didn't taste too good, but 9 hours later I'm still alive. So it appears to be non-toxic as KEM Ventures claims. Haha! OK, I lied! I didn't test the features in the bulleted list. But it's definitely light weight and it seems durable and easy to clean.
Apple touts the iPad 2 with it's new Smart Cover. I've seen and used the Smart Cover. It isn't all that smart and it surely doesn't offer much protection for the iPad. If Apple was really smart they would toss their Smart Cover and push the Big Grips Frame and Stand. And for those of us that have children with autism, this is the case to get for your kid's iPad - no joke.
"The material is actually very resilient, so it would take a great while and a great many insert/removals for you to notice any change in the fit of the Frame. What you will notice is that like anything practiced, you will get better at inserting and removing the Frame. I can now do it in just a few seconds. There's actually a little trick to getting the Frame on and off quickly and easily. Basically, you start with the top left corner of the iPad inserted toward the left-middle of the top of the Frame and then slide the top-right corner into place, the "pull" the lower corners over the iPad. To get it off, simply "peel" the lower corners off one at a time and slide out the iPad. We get the question a lot, so we are putting together a demonstration video so people can see how easy it actually is."
One reason we chose EVA foam for Big Grips is because of it's durability, including it's resistance to biting (there are many EVA teething products on the market that attest to the durability of the material). We have not conducted any formal biting tests, but a few of us have tried very hard to bite into Big Grips leaving only hints of teeth marks. I certainly don't want to suggest others do this, but I'd like to invite you to try for yourself Shane (strictly as a test of course). Don't forget the ketchup! :o)
Kara - Holes/slots for a shoulder strap is maybe a feature they should consider for future Big Grips.
BIG GRIPS = AWESOME !!!
We use it in conjunction with a Rocketfish headrest mount for in the car. They work well together and you don't have to remove the ipad from the frame to have it mounted to the back of your headrest for viewing from the backseat. The Big Grips frame can be installed over the top of the Rocketfish mount. I mention this because I spent a lot of time looking for this solution and am very happy with it. It seems very sturdy and hopefully wouldn't be flying around in the car if there was an accident.
Since we're on the subject of special needs kids and their Ipad I would also like to recommend iCommunicate as an app. It cost about $50 but is a great tool for non-verbal kids. My daughter took to it immediately and even surprised me with the level of communication we were missing out on. I hope it opens up as much communication for you as it did for us. This one app has made the cost of the ipad worth every cent.
For the record: I am not associated with any of these products. I recommend them purely as a parent who has found them to be a great addition to the ipad.
We'd only had our Ipad and Big Grips for about 3 weeks when this happened and to my knowledge it hadn't been previously dropped. It could have just been extraordinarily bad luck; nonetheless, I'm searching for a more rugged protective case and for now I'm only letting my daughter use the device while I'm able to hold it or I'm close enough to catch it. Because of how it makes the Ipad easier for my daughter to hold, I may try to modify the Big Grips to fit around whatever rugged case I end up with. It was just past the return period so I wasn't able to return it.
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