Begin shipping for an iPad or iPad Mini case and you'll soon learn that the variety of choices is staggering. If you're parachuting, iPad in hand, from 30,000 feet into a swamp, odds are good you'll want a case with military-grade water and shock protection rather than one with chinchilla faux fur and rhinestones. (Or maybe both, who knows?)
There's a tablet case for just about every kind of user imaginable: business travelers who need built-in keyboards, sun-and-surf aficionados, battery-life enthusiasts, even fashionistas.
A year ago we spotlighted the best iPad cases for summer, with a strong focus on waterproof models. This time around we've broadened our roundup to include the best cases for a wide variety of users. And rather than repeat our May 2012 selections, we're showcasing a fresh crop of covers, including some for the über-popular iPad Mini, which began shipping last November.
The abundance of iPad cases helps keep prices competitive. Many are priced at or slightly above the $69 leather edition of the Apple iPad Smart Cover but provide many more features, including water resistance or a built-in keyboard.
This proliferation of iPad peripherals comes at an opportune time: Tablets are starting to take the place of laptops in many work environments, including law enforcement, food service and maintenance. In fact, research firm IDC estimates that tablets will out-ship portable PCs for the first time ever this year. Obviously, this is great news for tablet case makers, who find themselves in a booming market.
A recent J.D. Power and Associates study on U.S. tablet user satisfaction found that 51% of slate owners share their devices with at least one other person. Unlike smartphones, which are highly personal gadgets, tablets are more likely to be shared at home and work, a reality that increases the likelihood of drops, spills and other hardware-damaging incidents.
On the business side of things, 20% of U.S. tablet owners say they use their devices for work as well, the study found. The iPad might not match the versatility of a conventional laptop -- at least not yet -- but its future is bright. It's a great traveling companion, a good choice for note-taking and well-suited to wall mounting, an important consideration in factory settings.
Click through our slideshow to find 10 great cases for your iPad. For even more options, check out our 2012 summer picks as well.