• While Apple's various iPads have a pretty good track record in terms of reliability, and we have a system in place that can dismiss software issues by simply restoring the iPad to its original state and then using the new Apple Deployment system and a separate Mobile Device Management (MDM) system to customize and push out the apps wirelessly, they still have a tendency to respond very badly to drops and mishandling.
     
    An uncased iPad dropped from 3 feet (a desk, your waist height while standing) onto a tiled or concrete or wood floor will typically result in major dents and a cracked or shattered screen. We need you to keep them in a protective case at all times. It's no guarantee they won't get damaged but our experience to date is that a cased iPad survives drops the majority of the time. An uncased on breaks 80-90% of the time. In order to make sure all 400 students can participate, we had to forego AppleCare + on the majority of them but even AppleCare+ isn't a perfect solution. At $300 per iPad, it's not necessarily financially wise to spend $99 on AppleCare+ plus $79 for the deductible on a repair. That's nearly $180. Makes more sense for 32 gig or higher full sized iPads but only a subset of our students are getting those and most of those have AppleCare+.
     
    Considerations for your case purchase?
    • Make sure you buy the right size case. Your paperwork will indicate if it's an iPad Mini or just an iPad which is probably the iPad 4. None of them to my knowledge are iPad Airs YET.
    • You want the back protected with some sort of shell just as much as a cover for the screen. Even if the iPad lands backwards or on its edge, the aluminum will deform and crack the screen anyway.
    • A lightweight case tends to offer less protection than a heavier more cushioned one.
    • Price alone isn't the definitive issue in terms of how protective the case is though typically really cheap cases tend to be less protective. However the price does tend to correlate closely with pricier materials like real leather and unusual features.
    • You probably want a case that doubles as a stand. Some allow multiple settings. Some work in both portrait and landscape mode. Some give you a sturdy typing position and some don't.
    • If you're going to use the iPad for extensive typing, you may want to consider a case with an integral bluetooth keyboard but those tend to start at $79 and can go over $100. We're probably talking mostly Creative Writing students.
    • You probably want a case that works with the magnetic system built into the iPad that puts it to sleep and wakes it up.
    • One of the reasons we didn't buy cases is to give you an opportunity to customize the iPad to YOUR personality and taste. Additionally, by encouraging many different cases, it will become easier to tell yours apart from those of nearby classmates.
    Some of the best places to purchase cases include:
    • Amazon
    • Best Buy
    • PC Richard 
    • Target
    • Wal-Mart
    • Apple retail stores
    • Staples
    • Wireless Carrier stores
    • B&H Photo 
    • Apple oriented web sites like iMore.com
    • if you discover others, let us know... we're not playing favorites!! 
    You'll tend to find less popular (but often some of the best) cases online but without the case, we're unlikely to distribute the iPad so you'd want to order online immediately.
     
    Here are some suggested articles to look at if you're not sure what to buy:
     
    http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/features/apple/3345046/best-ipad-cases-covers/