Full HardCandy Bubble Case Review
If you are on the market for a tablet or smartphone, it's likely you are also on the market for a case. When you are going to drop a few hundred dollars (or much more if you are interested in one of the fruit-branded products), you want to make sure your investment is safe. Or at least protected. Even the most stalwart of owners makes mistakes. They may think they have perfect aim just to watch their new tablet bounce off the couch. They may think their phone is securely packed in their pocket just to hear it clatter to the ground as they turn a corner.
Add that, if the new phone/tablet is a gift for a child, well that layer of protection becomes even more important.
My son turned 9 recently and he is a voracious reader. In a case of "1st world problems", my son most often gets fussed at to "put down the book and listen" rather than the normal things kids get in trouble for. We thought about buying him a regular e-reader (like a Kindle or a Nook) for his birthday but decided on the Kindle Fire. A regular e-reader wouldn't feel too special for him with there being iPads, iPods, and Galaxy Nexus smartphones in the home. With the price of the Kindle Fire being so low, it just made sense.
Installation and Use
The HardCandy Bubble Case for Kindle Fire made an immediate impression when I received the press release. The distinctive bubble design on the back was intriguing and the price ($40) seemed reasonable. The case came in a clam-shell plastic enclosure wrapped in a cardboard box. The case is very lightweight and thin. At only 2-3/8 ounces (66 grams), I was thankful it wasn't going to add much weight to the Kindle Fire (at 14.6 ounces (413 grams), the Fire is hefty for its size). The black and grey color motif is attractive if near impossible to photograph.
The HardCandy Bubble Case is a one piece affair with two cutouts on the top for the speakers a single cutout on the bottom for access to the port, power button, and headphone jack. Like just about every case these days, you can forget using headphones with a full-sized connector as the case blocks all but the smallest. If you have a set of headphones that are meant to be portable, you should have no problems (I have a number and they all worked). Access to the port (mostly used for charging) and power button were unfettered. I wasn't completely impressed with the fit and finish of the top ports. While they didn't block the speakers, they seemed to be slightly off center with the speaker grilles. It was something that irked me whenever I caught sight of the top of the Kindle Fire.
The polycarbonate body is not lined with any sort of soft material and, instead, sits directly on top of the Kindle. If you are familiar with the Fire, you know that the back has a matte finish. After many days of use with the case - including removal of the case a number of times during my testing - the Kindle Fire showed no signs of scratching or other cosmetic damage.
It is very easy to install the HardCandy Bubble Case on the Kindle Fire. You simply push the Fire past the grey rubber surround. Like all good cases, in my opinion, taking the case off is a completely different story. While during use, I often though that the rubber surround could be manipulated too easily, taking the Kindle out was not at all a simple matter. The rubber is not as soft or pliable as you may think and it holds the Fire within the case very securely. This is perfect to keep little boys that like to play with stuff from taking the case on and off as he reads (one of the things I was seriously worried about with any case).
I honestly thought that the grey rubber on the HardCandy Bubble Case would be softer. It feels more like malleable plastic rather than rubber. The polycarbonate case feels only slightly less malleable. This gives the overall case a slick feel that I didn't love. The concave bubble design, however, gives you plenty of places to hold onto when reading. When setting the case down on a hard surface like a marble countertop, the case tends to want to slide. Usually I'd put a case like this face down so that the rubber surround (which is raised above the face of the Kindle Fire to protect it from falls) grips the surface. This would be incorrect with the Bubble Case. Putting it down on its back allows the grey HardCandy logo portion to grip the surface. I placed the case on both sides and pushed it. With it face down, it slid easily. On its back, it spun around the logo. I do think that it would have been better if the surround rubber was a little stickier as I think that placing a tablet face down makes more sense to protect the sensitive screen.
My last gripe with the HardCandy Bubble Case is the lack of face protection. While I don't expect a full screen protector with a case at this price point, the inclusion of some sort of adhesive protection seems to be in order.
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