This is a creative case that has some very cool thinking behind it. Temple Bags also does an amazing job with the unboxing experience. Unfortunately, there are some functional flaws with the case that could have been easily avoided by smarter design decisions.
I was excited about this bag. From the website information it looked interesting, different and fun. When I received it I found it meticulously packaged (more below) and with some interesting information I hadn’t known: all materials in the bag are military circa World War II.
This is a play-through case – you aren’t expected to remove the iPad from the case in order to use it. It’s a little different than most play-through cases that take a book or folio approach. This case is somewhat rugged and includes a (removable) shoulder strap – it’s clearly something you can/should use as a stand-alone iPad carrying device.
Features, Design & Fit
The overall look of the case is very slick. The all-leather version has a real “Indiana Jones” quality to it, and the canvas and leather version I ordered has a very classic look and feel to it. The green color of the canvas is a little different than I expected from the photos here, however it looks great.
The case is held close by a set of four leather flaps that slip over 4 brass nubs. The leather flaps have holes punched in them that are a somewhat snug fit and require a bit of force to secure and remove. These straps are attached to the back of the case and wrap around to the front of the case.
This system is different and looks really cool. However, it’s has some serious flaws. It takes some time to unhook 4 different straps to use the iPad and time again to reconnect them when you’re done. It lacks “quick draw” ability. I believe that the two bottom straps are really all that are necessary to keep the case closed, provide the easel functionality, and would definitely speed up the process of getting in and out of the case.
The placement of the straps is also a problem. The straps are attached to the back flap of the case and wrap around to the front. This means that when you are closing the case, you are exerting pressure directly on the iPad screen (pushing the flaps over the brass nubs). Having a closure mechanism that makes you put force onto a single point directly on the iPad screen seems like a Bad Idea to me.
CLARIFICATION: I never had a problem hurting my iPad when closing the case, but I did cringe when I saw a friend pushing really hard on the strap over the brass nub when closing it. As you can see from the “open” photos, no metal comes in contact with the iPad screen and I do not feel it is in serious danger.
Further, since the straps are attached the the back of the case they don’t swing out of the way when you wrap the front of the case around. They stay in the way, flopping over the iPad screen in a very inconvenient manner.
This is a serious design flaw. While the brass nubs and closing straps look really cool on the outside of the case, the case could retain all of this coolness by simply having the iPad attach to the front flap and face inward instead of attaching to the back facing outward. That simple change would make the case immeasurably better.
Since there is a fair amount going on with all the straps, using the iPad while in the case is a bit awkward. The two sides of the case do not sit flat against each other when you fold the front out of the way. The straps and brass nubs create about a .5-1″ area between the front and back flaps which is more pronounced towards the non-hinge end of the case. If you set the case on a flat surface like a desk or table in this configuration it doesn’t feel very stable. It’s acceptable if you’re using it on your lap.
One of the nice features of the straps and brass nubs is the ability to connect them with the case open to hold the iPad open in portrait. This works really nicely. Personally, I prefer using the iPad in landscape mode, and while the case will stay open in landscape, it’s upright at a 90 degree angle which isn’t idea for viewing. I’d prefer to have the case open on the long edge (like a book) instead of on the short edge so that it could be propped in landscape at a better viewing angle. This would make watching video, etc. a lot more natural while the iPad is in the case.
There is a cutout for the iPad home button near the hinge side of the case. This creates some issues that would have easily been avoided had the cutout been at the bottom (open) end of the case instead. In particular, if you use any iPhone apps on the iPad, you’ll note that you cannot rotate them – the bottom edge of the app (in portrait) is always at the home button end of the iPad. This results in iPhone apps being stuck upside down when the iPad is open in easel mode (in portrait) in this case.
There are two d-ring loops attached to the back flap of the case that the strap attaches to. The strap has very nice brass swivel hooks on it that clip easily and securely to the rings. The strap can be removed with little fuss. The strap has a padded piece for comfort and is belt-style adjustable with three different positions. Even at the largest setting, the strap is too short to reasonably be worn bandolier-style across your body – it’s basically an over-one-shoulder strap and does not support any other wear pattern.
On the inside of the front flap there is a slim pocket. This has a velcro closure along the top edge, which is a good thing. When the case is closed and worn over a shoulder, the opening of the pocket faces downward. Without the velcro, gravity would have its way with whatever you put into the pocket. The velcro closing limits the size of what can fit into that pocket by several inches. If the pocket was turned around the other way, it could be open at the top with no velcro and no concerns about things falling out. This would make the pocket much more useful for carrying papers, etc.
Craftsmanship, Material & Protection
I had no idea when I ordered that the materials in this case were all authentic World War II military surplus. Here is the quote from the tag that came with the case:
Every bag is handcrafted from materials formerly used in WWII. The fabric is found after hours of searching through dusty warehouses; it is then cut and re-purposed into contemporary designs.
Due to the unique process of salvaging military goods, each back is guaranteed to be one-of-a-kind.
These fabrics that were once used for defending our freedom now serve to protect what you value most.
This is remarkable and quite cool. The case feels great, the materials are excellent quality – as is the craftsmanship.
The stitching is even and compliments the design of the case elegantly. The overall construction is very good and fits the iPad beautifully. There are nice touches like a thinning of the leather on the side straps at the attachment point in order for them to more easily fold back out of the way.
The shoulder strap and attaching clips feel very sturdy and solid. The straps that hold the case closed are thick and secure.
The case provides pretty good drop protection, with enough stiff material between the edge of the case and the recessed edge of the iPad. The case is open on the sides, so it does not fully protect the iPad from the elements, but for most purposes I’d have very few concerns.
Order Process & Delivery
I ordered the case from the Temple Bags website, choosing PayPal as they payment method. I received the case in a reasonable time period, well packed and in good condition.
I really have to hand it to Temple on their packaging. The case came wrapped in brown paper stamped with the Temple logo and tied with twine. The tag explaining the materials was attached to the twine. My colleagues at the office were standing around waiting for me to open it but I had to get a few photos of the wrapped package first.
First rate job all around on packaging and delivery.
The workmanship is excellent, the materials are really innovative and I’m really glad to see people branching out from the same old case designs. That said, I think this case is currently a little over-priced. I think $100 would be a nice sweet-spot for it, maybe the $150 price tag would be fair once the issues I noted are resolved. It’s a unique case and a nice departure from the same old designs.
This case has some great features and some serious flaws. With the current design and relatively high price point, I have a hard time recommending the current incarnation. That said, Temple Bags has done too much right here to have produced a case with so many fundamental issues.
It seems to me that we need a version 2 of this case that resolves some of the issues I noted above. If Temple Bags does create such a beast, I’d love to do a follow-up review here accordingly.