If you get an iPad, make sure to buy a protective case for it. Compared to the iPhone, Apple’s latest tech toy is more prone to easy damage.
In our iPad stress tests—a supersize version of the iPhone stress tests that we performed with Apple’s smartphone—the tablet computer started showing damage after a few drops onto a carpeted floor.
Though the touchscreen itself held up well and still responded to touches and gestures, a strip of garbled pixels appeared at the top of the display after we dropped the iPad from a seated position three or four times.
Water isn’t very iPad-friendly, either. Our stress-test unit started malfunctioning immediately after being doused with coffee and water, even though the iPad connector port was somewhat covered. Water entered the iPad’s innards via the headphone jack on the top, and within a minute or two, the touchscreen display became unresponsive and splotchy.
Apple’s tablet is extremely resilient in a few ways, however. Surprisingly, all that glass on the front is practically invulnerable when it comes to everyday wear-and-tear.
Its well-coated screen is literally scratch-proof: We couldn’t produce any scratches on the display even when we tried to etch it with a nail; you definitely won’t need to buy one of those stick-on screen protectors.
The glass did start showing signs of physical damage after a couple of drops onto concrete. But even in those extreme circumstances, the screen cracked only after we dropped the iPad face-down onto the pavement.
The back of the iPad, on the other hand, is a scratch magnet. Keys and the aforementioned nail dinged it up significantly, so a protective case is still a good idea if you plan on toting it around alongside other objects in a bag.
After our iPad became fully inoperable from the combination of water damage and drops onto concrete, we went ahead and threw a baseball at it. The iPad was no match for a Little League-caliber fastball, so if you’re sitting in foul-ball territory with it, bring a glove.
You’ll also be happy to know that an average-weight adult can sit on the iPad without inflicting any damage. It just isn’t very comfortable.
All in all, the iPad is a solidly built machine, but the pixel problems after only a few drops onto a carpeted floor surprised us a bit. This gadget has a lot of potential to be used by kids, so you’ll definitely want to buy a protective case if you have a youngster at home.
[Tim Moynihan is a senior editor for PCWorld.]
Updated 4/5/10 at 6:25 p.m. PT with video.
This story, "iPad stress tests: Don't drop it, and buy a case" was originally published by PCWorld.