Griffin Survivor case for tablets review: Griffin Survivor case for tablets is tough, but not rugged

The selection of bright and colorful designs are fun, but I preferred the look of the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX case; its girthy utilitarian design is reminiscent of the HDX's all-black angular body, and it makes the small tablet look tough, kind of like a child with a beard.

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The clear silicone cladding became discolored after making mud pies in Big Sur. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Performance

Griffin says loud and clear that it will not take responsibility for your broken device, no matter what it was wearing at the time of the accident. Those who have had the unfortunate experience of breaking a gadget understand that the destruction of a device can be caused by a myriad of small incidents. So instead of evaluating the unpredictable protection of the tablet, this review looks at the durability of the case.

I tested the cases capacity for wear and tear by letting them soak in the run-off of a waterfall, tossing them around a beach like a frisbee, and gracefully dropping them from small inclines. After the mild torture testing, the tablet cases lived up to their name, for the most part.

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Separation of screen and frame. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

If assembled correctly, the Griffin Survivor case seals out dust and dirt, with minimal protection against water. Dirt and sand easily get caught in the crevices of the case and beneath the protective screen, so if you're taking your tablet camping or to the beach, a good cleaning once you're home is necessary to avoid any scratches on your device.

I tested how well the silicone cladding and foam padding protected from falls by dropping them on a variety of surfaces. The drop tests were conducted with tablets in the cases for a better idea of real-life performance, and the cases dutifully absorbed the shock from the drop, sometimes resulting in an extra bounce or two before surrendering to gravity.

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Scratch-resistant, not scratch-proof. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

The plastic screen on the front panel can make it difficult to see the screen outdoors, due to glare, and it makes the super-HD screens on the iPad and Kindle Fire HDX appear a little dull. It also attracts a lot of smudges -- cleaning both sides thoroughly requires taking the case apart -- but touchscreen response was impressively swift and consistent.

I bent the screens as much as I could without feeling sadistic, and they proved as bendy as the rumored sapphire screens on the upcoming Apple iPhone 6. Unfortunately, after a rough weekend with me, part of the screen on the front panel of the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX case started to separate from the plastic frame. It's an easy fix, but could result in water damage if it goes unnoticed.

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The Survivor cases are only available for select slates. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Conclusion

The Griffin Survivor cases add a welcome layer of durability -- and slight peace of mind -- for some of the most popular tablets available. Those with butterfingers or tech-savvy children in the household will benefit from the extra protection, but the case isn't indestructible enough for those who need a truly rugged case for their tablet.

There's only one tablet that includes durability as a feature (the waterproof Sony Xperia Z2) so any tablet owner has to decide how they will protect their device. The Survivor cases add a bit of bulk to the slates, but considering it's a defensive shield the heft is more acceptable. If you want more protection than your average tablet cover, the Survivor case is one of the few options available, but it will only satisfy the cautious and accident-prone.

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