Tablets and mobile phones are great tools, and I wouldn’t want to be without either of mine very long. I use both of mine constantly throughout the day, both for work and for personal information. Carrying them around, however, is a pain. Especially an iPad. Shirts and pants have pockets that can handle most smart phones, but iPads or other tablets (and most phablets), are really tough to manage on the road when they’re not in use.
This same issue exists for police officers, delivery drivers, phone repairmen and meter readers, who all have to carry something bulky that is only used occasionally. You’re not always getting a signature, reading a meter, testing a line or arresting/Tasing someone, and you need to stash those tools where they’re handy, but not in the way. Most of the above occupations have opted for the tool belt as a storage approach, but for most users of modern gadgetry, that tack is a little passé. A rather new company has looked at the new market (information professionals, physicians, and other data intensive jobs) and put forth a repositioning of an old solution – the shoulder holster. TechSlinger has created an eponymous product that holds a tablet, a phone, and various other gear snugly and neatly beneath the arms, where it can be quickly brought to bear from under a lab coat, a sports jacket, or from being just out in the open. The TechSlinger is a set of two side pockets held together by a harness that clips easily onto those pockets.
You may attach the pockets to either side of the adjustable harness, so that the pockets are where you’d like them to be. The two pockets are well made from several different materials, and can be color coordinated with contrasting linings to make seeing into a storage pocket easier. One pocket is sized for a “tablet” and holds my new iPad perfectly. The other has an upper phone pocket, which can hold my iPhone 4s and my Lovely Bride’s 3GS (both in cases), but has room for a 5 or most any other brand of phone of similar size. It’s not, however, going to hold your phablet – sorry.
The lower two-thirds of the second pocket is a zippered, lined pocket with a few pen loops (a nice touch!) and not much else. It could hold spare batteries, cables, chargers, Moleskines or pistol magazines – it’s fairly large. The device pockets have one-inch webbing with snaps to hold your gadgets in place. The snaps were easy to connect and felt very secure. I never worried about my devices falling out, if I felt that secure “snap”. The back of the snap’s straps are covered by a folded piece of webbing on the tablet side, and a layer of the inner lining material on the phone side, that will cushion and prevent damage to your devices. Nice touch.
As far as the design and workmanship are concerned, these things are first rate. Seams are bound with proper binding tape, and tucked into pockets, such that rough edges are never seen or felt. The liner material and the outer layer are stitched together with an intermediate layer of stiffener, which adds structure and a feeling of security. Seams are fully bar-tacked, or reinforced by double rows of stitching. You’re going to have to work to rip out these things!
So, while it’s a beautifully designed, well-made piece of kit that does what it promises, how is it in action? Weeeeeelllllllll, that’s hard to say. I wore it in our back area break room, modeling our iPads and my personal iPhone with the rest of the tech uniform of our company, and folks loved it – but they weren’t interested in using it themselves.
We’ve seen this solution before. Like fanny packs and belt holsters, shoulder holsters are somewhat considered too far off the mainstream to be accepted by most users. What we need is for some truly amazing cult hero to wear something like this, and make it acceptable for mere mortals. Indiana Jones and Jack Bauer have done this somewhat for the satchel, making them masculine and hero-worthy carriers of needed gadgets. (As long as it’s not too zippery or strappy, and appears large enough for a .45 or a bullwhip, I think most places don’t really look down on you if you’re carrying an over-the-shoulder bag.) While everyone from James Bond to Special Agent Seeley Booth wears a holster, it’s not quite as large as the TechSlinger. And holsters didn’t even catch on when they were smaller and designed for phones or even Newtons. I actually carried my Newton in one for a while, and it was very convenient, but I always got strange looks from folks whenever I left work wearing it.
If you have a job where you’re always wearing some sort of coat or jacket (lab coat, suit jacket, etc.) and need to carry an iPad with you to use regularly, I could see using this. If the company you’re working with has a bunch of folks using iPads for inventory, point of sale, or any other mobile data management, this could work, but I think it’d have to be a company mandate and everyone would need to be wearing them, in order to overcome the social stigma of wearing it. But, if you’re above that kind of thing, and want to manage your tools, it’s a great product.