If you go into settings -> general -> accessibility then turn assistive touch on. You can then go onto that menu and into device and if you hold lock screen it should give you the slide to unlock. Its quite a bit of effort to turn off your phone but if you don't want to jailbreak it. Could set assistive touch to triple click the home button to make it a bit faster.
he doesn't want to wear out or show wear on the buttons...higher resale value
I have no idea what happened. It's either the device that failed twice or I broke the center click wheel. So that's why I want to avoid using the buttons on the iPad if I can. I also read that the iPad is susceptible to failed Home buttons. Not sure if that's a rumor or if it's true but I don't want to find out.
But like I said I do like to find different way of doing things.