Review: iBackFlip TabKeeper 360 for iPad
It's been a while since we've seen anything new from iBackFlip — the small company's lineup is limited to only a few products — but now it's back with its latest bag, the TabKeeper 360 ($55), which is its smallest and least expensive design. Others assumed that you'd want to carry your tablet with a bunch of other items, while this one is designed primarily for the iPad with enough room for a few accessories. Able to be used as a messenger bag, sling-style backpack, or briefcase, depending on how you position the detachable strap, its key feature is the same as previous carriers from the company: a lid can fold down for hands-free access, with straps holding the tablet perpendicular to the ground so that you can look down at it.
TabKeeper 360 is made of a nice but not particularly noteworthy nylon material—the kind of nylon you’d expect from a standard bag or backpack. The bag is held closed with a pair of zippers, opening on three sides. A panel is found in the middle interior, separating holders on both sides. There’s a large pocket on the same side as a snap that holds the panel in place, plus smaller pockets for phones, cables, cards, and the like. The iPad fits on the other side of the panel.
iBackFlip went with a unique way of holding the tablet — mini or full-sized — in place. The bag ships with two X-shaped elastic harnesses, one large and one small. They’re made to fit around the corners of the iPad, and have Velcro on the back that attaches inside the case at four points. While we weren’t thrilled with this implementation at first, it actually makes some sense here. Normally, users slip tablets into bags without any sort of restraint system. The hardness enables the iBackFlip functionality, without adding any bulk or semi-permanently locking the tablet in place; Velcro allows it to easily be removed and replaced. Since the holders have give, they can work on iPads in or out of cases. It actually adds up to a pretty good concept.
We’ve still never seen someone using an iPad in the way iBackFlip intends, namely a case that’s being worn with the tablet inside. That’s not to say the concept doesn’t work, though, and TabKeeper 360 is the best execution of the idea so far. We like that it can be worn in several different arrangements, and that there’s case compatibility. That’s the biggest win here: instead of having to slip an iPad into a frame, the harnesses work to let you pull the iPad out for standalone use as desired. Overall, it’s a good solution for the price, and worthy of a general recommendation.