iPad 2 Case Review: Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad/iPad 2 Review Reviewed by Tong Zhang
Editor's Ratings (1-5): 4.5
What's Hot: Great design, good material and well built, and good colors.
What's Not: You will pay premium for the high quality.
We?ve seen many iPad 2 cases but few of them come in messenger bag form. Tom Bihn, who made its name with trendy messenger bags, has a vertical messenger bag for the iPad and iPad 2. The Tom Bihn Ristretto bag is the 10" version of its popular Ristretto bags for the MacBook and MacBook Air. It has the signature off-center closure buckle, a very padded tablet compartment, lots extra space and slots for your other gear, and a strong shoulder strap with super soft shoulder padding. The bag comes in many color combos including Cocoa/Cayenne, Olive/Cayenne, Black/Steel, Black/Wasabi, Conifer/Steel and more.
If you have seen the Tom Bihn Ristretto bag for Mac notebooks, you will see the iPad 2 bag follows the series to a tee. Like other Tom Bihn bags, the Ristretto for iPad 2 has a water repellent heavy Cordura nylon exterior that?s strong and abrasion resistant. The bag measures 12 x 9.25 x 4.75 inches and weighs 11 oz. The Ristretto for iPad 2 bag is designed for you to carry the tablet along with your phone and other essentials, or attach it to a backpack via two strap holders on the back. The messenger bag comes with two sturdy sets of strap holders additionally, one set for the shoulder strap and the other for waist. The waist strap is great if you take the tablet in bag to go hiking or riding a bike. Both straps are removable and the bag has a handy top handle should you prefer to carry the bag without the straps.
The Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad/iPad 2 bag is very well built. Both exterior and interior use tough nylon material that will withstand lots of wear and tear, and the tablet pocket is fully padded with thick cell foam. The bag has high quality stitching inside and out, and it?s surprisingly light. The closure buckle is wide and heavy duty, and the shoulder strap is super strong. The selection of colors also follows Tom Bihn?s tradition, offering 8 different color combinations (exterior and interior have different colors) that look natural and earthy, and the combos look good together.
The Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad/iPad 2 bag isn?t just a simple tablet bag. It has a tablet compartment, padded with open cell foam laminated with durable 4 Ply Taslan on the outside, and the back of the pocket is padded with 1/4? closed cell foam. To top it off, the tablet pocket has a closure flap that?s also made with cell foam. With all these padding, your iPad 2 is practically sleeping in a cushy soft bed with a cushy soft cover. The tablet compartment can hold 10.1? tablets like the iPad 2, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 or the Motorola Xoom (we tested them all) easily.
Outside of the tablet pocket, the Ristretto bag has a large pocket that?s padded on the back, but not padded on the front, just a layer of strong nylon. This compartment is as large as the tablet pocket, so you can store any additional device 10? or smaller even with a protective case on it. Or you can put newspaper, books or magazines in this compartment. Outside of this large compartment is a zipped compartment that?s a bit shorter but has the same width as the large compartment. The YKK zipper pocket is a great place for your ID, wallet, etc., and it has an easy access thanks to the large cutout on the front layer. There are more pockets and pen holders in front of the zipper pocket for storing small items and pens. One of the front pockets is large enough for a smartphone, like an iPhone 4. The bag has even some extra space in front of these small pockets for storing a small water bottle or a bill wallet or a flashlight. There is a convenience pocket on the back of the Ristretto for your boarding pass or train ticket where you can get it quickly without opening the bag.
It wouldn?t be a Tom Bihn bag if there weren?t any o-rings for latching on extra pouches and keys. The Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad/iPad 2 bag comes with a small padded pouch for a small cell phone (it won?t fit a large phone like the iPhone 4), a large clear organizer pouch for storing ID, money, etc. and a key ring. You can get additional pouches or long key ring straps from Tom Bihn as accessories should you need more of them, and the Ristretto has an extra o-ring in case you need it additionally.
The Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad/iPad 2 bag may look small but it can hold most of your essential items that you carry around town along with your iPad 2. That also means the weight can add up quickly if you put an iPad 2, a ebook reader, a small digital camera, a cell phone, an extra battery for your tablet or phone, your wallet and ID and keys in the bag. Luckily the Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad/iPad 2 bag is prepared for this. The bag comes with a super strong shoulder strap that?s 1.5? wide and made with heavy nylon. It?s wide, and comes with a comfortable shoulder pad. Tom Bihn also offers a step-up option, the Absolute Shoulder Strap. What?s different with the Absolute Shoulder Strap is that it has a very soft neoprene pad with a stretchy backing. This design allows the strap to absorb some of the weight while you are walking, and makes the bag feel lighter.
For the iPad 2 owners who are looking for a bag to carry their tablet along with their phone and few other essential gadgets and personal items, the Tom Bihn Ristretto for iPad/iPad 2 is really hard to beat. It has great protection for the iPad 2 thanks to the padded pocket, and has space for quite a few extra items. The bag looks small yet packs plenty of cargo. The shoulder strap and waist strap have nice design and you can connect the Ristretto to a backpack or roller via back holders. Like with most Tom Bihn bags, the Ristretto for iPad 2 uses sturdy material, high quality stitching and liberal amount of padding. It will be hard to find anything smaller or lighter yet so functional in a messenger bag form, but the Tom Bihn also carries premium price for all these reasons as well.