capsule review

Kensington Sling Bag (9"-10")

At a Glance
  • Kensington Sling Bag (9"-10")

    Macworld Rating

    The Sling Bag is a decent iPad and netbook bag at a rock-bottom price. It offers a smaller form factor over traditional notebook bags, but has enough extra room for a couple magazines or a book. Thanks to...

I imagine Kensington’s Sling Bag—officially named Sling Bag (9"-10")—will appeal to the iPad purists: It’s just large enough to avoid “man purse” jabs (at least, I hope), but compact and thin enough to boast “I left my old ’n busted notebook at home and I’m proud of it.” The Sling Bag's construction is fairly sturdy, and the price is affordable, but I couldn’t help but be disappointed by some unfortunate design flaws.

The Sling Bag is another “made for a netbook but fits an iPad” bag, which means the iPad is practically swimming in the main, velcro-strapped device pocket. This may be acceptable if you actually have both an iPad and a netbook or some other thicker device, and you want to be able to use the same bag for both. But if you’re all iPad, all the time, the compartment feels like an inefficient use of space.

Fortunately, the Sling Bag is just tall enough to fit a couple standard-size magazines or a thin book. Inside the main compartment, across from the device pocket, is a small, thin, zippered area for the iPad’s charger or other small accessories and cables. The outside of the bag sports a deep, thin, zippered pocket with a small interior pocket that fits an iPhone or other phone, or a thin digital camera such as a Canon Elph.

Overall, the bag has a solid construction for its low $20 price, but in addition to the “netbook pocket is good enough for iPad” drawback, I also wasn't impressed with the bag's sling-style strap. Instead of a standard adjustable strap, Kensington opted for a simple Velcro-fastening design. (I've never been a fan of this type of strap on gadget bags—do you really want to trust your expensive gear to a strip of velcro?) Worse, the strap feels like it was designed primarily with linebackers in mind. Now, at 5'8", I'm admittedly a short guy, but the strap's Velcro connector is so far towards the bottom of the bag that it was difficult for me to adjust the strap length in a way that would keep the bag from sagging below my waistline—let alone keep it squarely, or even just comfortably, on my back.

I generally appreciate the Sling Bag's design minimalism, which strikes a nice balance between being more compact than a traditional backpack and large enough to carry an iPad and some books and magazines. And it's not a bad value, despite some unfortunate design flaws.

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At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    The Sling Bag is a decent iPad and netbook bag at a rock-bottom price. It offers a smaller form factor over traditional notebook bags, but has enough extra room for a couple magazines or a book. Thanks to a few design flaws, though, you can do much better if you spend just $10 to $20 more.

    Pros

    • Low price
    • Compact size
    • Space for magazines or a book

    Cons

    • Velcro-secured strap doesn't feel trustworthy
    • Poor design choices mar usefulness
    • Netbook-sized pocket means iPad floats loosely
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