Review: iBackFlip Studios iBackFlip Original for iPad + iPad 2
We were somewhat skeptical when we first heard about iBackFlip Studios' iBackFlip Original for iPad + iPad 2 ($70): the concept of a messenger bag for the iPad is nothing new, but iBackFlip Original is intended to be swung towards your chest and flipped open for hands-free iPad use. After testing the bag, we were legitimately impressed. The build quality is a lot nicer than we were expecting, and even though it may strike some people as looking somewhat silly, it's actually pretty practical, especially when you're standing.
iBackFlip Studios made a wise choice when it selected black ballistic nylon for the body, a durable material that makes the bag look and feel nicer than in early images we saw. Almost the whole bag is made of the ballistic material, although the adjustable section of the shoulder strap and some other small portions of the bag are made of shiny nylon that feels like a seatbelt. The material is strong and resilient; we wouldn’t worry about tears or moisture intrusion from light splashes.
Your iPad or iPad 2 fits in the main compartment of the bag, and can be accessed by un-Velcroing the top flap and unzipping both of the sides; there’s additional Velcro sewn-in to hold the flap flat against the bag’s body and prevent it from getting in your way. The tablet is held against the inside of the front cover by elastic bands at the four corners, and this is our biggest issue with the design: although it’s an easy style of holder to get in and out of, the band around the iPad’s top right corner covers the Sleep/Wake button, side switch, and volume rocker. This issue is somewhat addressed by magnets built into the front flap that activate the automatic locking feature found in the iPad 2.
The bag’s strap sits over your shoulder and across your chest, resting the iPad carrier on your back when not in use. It can be swung around as needed, and adjustable straps attached to the front cover connect near the flap to hold the tablet at a usable angle in landscape orientation. While having an iPad hanging from your chest in a bag is a little strange, it does work. The only space available for anything other than the iPad or iPad 2 are two small pockets on the shoulder strap; we would’ve appreciated extra room for other accessories.
Ultimately, iBackFlip Studios had a unique idea and executed it pretty well. The company chose quality materials, and put them together in the right way to make something comfortable and surprisingly practical. We could see something like this being particularly useful in on-the-go work situations where setting up an iPad on some sort of stand simply isn’t an option. Going forward, however, we would like to see the company improve how the tablet is restrained in future iterations of its bag; elastic straps simply aren’t the best way. In its current form, iBackFlip merits our general recommendation; it’s a good, solid iPad bag with a nicely executed twist.