Review: iSkin Agent 6 Sling + Recon Sleeve for iPad 2/iPad (3rd-Gen)
Over the years, iSkin has made its style clear with a focus on an urban aesthetic. Its two new accessories for the iPad 2 and third-generation iPad, Agent 6 Sling ($100) and Recon Sleeve ($70) -- collectively known as the "Gravity Collection" -- were clearly designed with that in mind yet maintain a strong general visual appeal. Both are composed of high quality materials, and shipped to us with iSkin-branded simple cloth bags tucked inside.
Of the two, Agent 6 Sling strikes us as a better value and a genuinely cool way to carry an iPad. Made of ballistic nylon, the main body of the bag is a sleeve just large enough to hold an iPad bare or in most reasonably sized cases, with a zipper that runs the length of the top and one side. Although its not listed as such, the zipper appears to be weatherproof, a much appreciated feature. The walls are padded with a soft, gel like material and lined on the inside with moisture-resistant nylon. On the front, you’ll find more heavy-duty nylon, this time in the form of webbing. It seems more for show than anything else, although there’s nothing to stop users from clipping on pens or other small accessories.
The bag is attached to a padded cross-body strap equipped with a carabiner, a detachable cable/charger-holding pouch, a D-ring, and an elastic-rimmed iPhone pocket that sits right on the user’s chest. It’s quite comfortable, and we really like the metal clips; they add to the premium feel of the carrier. We like the style, and hope that iSkin expands its line to include a full backpack. In fact, the biggest drawback to Agent 6 is that it’s limited in what you can carry. For some, an iPad is all that’s needed these days and the sling is a great way to carry it. Others still need books, cameras, or other accessories—this isn’t the holder for them.
Recon Sleeve ($70), on the other hand, doesn’t strike us as as good of a deal. Made of the same ballistic nylon, the sleeve is about the same size as Agent 6’s holder. Rather than zipping halfway around the perimeter, this one has a three-quarter zip that leaves the halves attached along one of the long sides and opens like a folio. Along that edge is a nice real leather handle that retracts when not in use, and there’s a strip of nylon with a metal ring on the front of the case. Presumably one could attach a carabiner or other accessories, although we think for most users it’ll be just for show.
Inside you’ll find a lining similar to that of the sling, although the padding is a much firmer polyfill material. On one side of the case, depending on how you hold it, are elastic-laden neoprene corner holders. Slide the iPad in underneath them, and it’ll stay securely in place; there’s enough give to support using a Smart Cover if you choose to. This setup allows one to use the tablet while encased if desired, but it’s not an optimal way to do so. Because the corners are covered, it’s not as easy to access the headphone port, Sleep/Wake button, side switch, or volume rocker. That’s not to say that they can’t be gotten at, but doing so by removing the necessary corner is a less than elegant solution. The rear camera is also covered, and there’s no way to access that without completely removing the iPad.
Both Agent 6 Sling and Recon Sleeve strike us as overpriced, but it’s easier to justify the cost of a bag that can hold at least a few additional accessories than it is a sleeve with some deficiencies. Both are a better value than the sleeves and other bags we saw from iSkin at this time last year, and have broader appeal without giving up the signature style. We’d like to see the company refine Recon Sleeve just a bit so that it’s easier to get at the buttons and ports, but still appreciate that it’s one of few sleeve options that protects the iPad while in use, which earns it our limited recommendation. Agent 6 Sling, on the other hand, is worthy of a general recommendation. The design is cool and it’s quite comfortable, we’d just like to see a bit more room for, well, stuff.