Review: iSkin 3 Degree, Summit + Sling for iPad + iPad 2
As part of its high-end, fashion-conscious Q.West Collection, iSkin has introduced two new sleeves and an over-the-shoulder bag that look like descendants of puffy winter jackets and sleeping bags. The sleeve-styled 3 Degree ($80) and quilted Summit ($95) for iPad and iPad 2 are close siblings, with only small design and functionality differences. Sling ($125) adds a level of functionality and additional storage that the other two are lacking. Ultimately the designs are quite polarizing; our editors had unusually strong feelings both ways as to whether they liked the bags and who would actually use them.
3 Degree, Summit, and Sling are all made of at least semi-glossy nylon plastics, and feel like they’re filled with down. The most immediate visual and tactile comparison for most of the versions is a high-end sleeping bag, though the glossiest white version could be confused with a common Hefty bag. Like camping gear, these sleeves seem like they would tear easily but are actually rather resilient. 3 Degree is the most basic of the three designs. A simple monochromatic sleeve, the only extra space on this model is an inner pocket that is custom fit for iSkin’s warranty card and a small gray microfiber polishing cloth. Along the top is a plastic-finished zipper. The iPad and iPad 2 fit with little room to spare in the padded sleeve, running right up to the four edges.
Summit is three quarters of an inch taller and a full inch deeper than 3 Degree, but maintains the same width. Rather than a flat design, this model has quilted stitching that splits both the back and front into tic-tac-toe patterns. As with 3 Degree, there are not any pockets for accessories save for the literature and included cloth inserts. Other than design, what sets Summit apart is the addition of a removable shoulder strap. While the sleeve is available in six colors, the shoulder strap is available solely in black. The D-rings on the bag and clasps on the strap are plastic and, like the two-toned zipper, struck us as sturdy enough, but inexpensive-feeling for the price.
While the other two are just sleeves, Sling is a full-on carrying bag. The materials are generally the same, but Sling has the benefit of an integrated shoulder strap and a little bit more space for accessories. Inside the main cavity is a dedicated pocket to hold the iPad in place, covering almost all of the device. There is additional room for a full-sized Apple Wireless Keyboard or other, smaller accessories, and of course the same included cloth and warranty booklet pocket. On the front of the bag is another zippered pocket with enough room for a charger and/or earphones, plus a Velcro-tabbed pocket with enough room for a one-liter bottle. Keeping with the design of the others, the zippers on Sling are generally plasticky, as are all of the other assorted buckles and D-rings.
Sling’s shoulder strap is nicer than Summit’s, with a padded underside running along the portion that sits on the shoulder and chest, plus a plain, thinner nylon band that runs the rest of the way down to the bag’s bottom. Located on the strap is a pocket meant to hold a phone or iPod. It works fine, with enough room for any generation of iPhone. What is a bit unusual is the placement; the pocket sits awkwardly at the front of the shoulder when the strap is fully extended, and the puffiness makes it feel as if it is right in your face, a design touch that mightn’t sit well with some female users. The ability to reposition or even remove this pocket would have been valuable.
Our editors really split on whether iSkin hit or missed on these new cases, with generally strong votes of confidence in the Sling design weighing against fair criticisms against all of them; the disagreements were largely over the Q.West series puffy plastic aesthetics and their pricing rather than the quality and utility of the bags. There is nothing inherently bad with 3 Degree, Summit, or Sling, and we know that some people will like or really love the designs; most of us agreed that Sling was a winner and worthy of a strong general recommendation for some men, while Summit is a nice but simple bag for younger women, worthy of a limited recommendation. We all agreed the bags were a little overpriced for their limited functionality, especially 3 Degree, which is very expensive while offering only the simplest functionality and design. Some of us felt that the zippers and straps weren’t as expensive-feeling as the prices would demand. Of the three, Sling is definitely our top pick of the bunch, and a really interesting change from the norm of iPad case design; the others are equally eye-catching but not quite awesome enough to justify $80-$95 price tags.