Tom Bihn’s Ristretto vertical messenger bag (http://www.tombihn.com) for the iPad is, at US$110, one of the pricer cases for the Apple tablet device. But if you’ve got the moolah, it’s well worth it.
The Ristretto is a vertical messenger bag with a built-in interior padded compartment (10.86 x 7.59 x .98 inches) that protects the iPad. The padded compartment is made with 25-inch open-cell foam laminated with four-ply Taslan on the outside, and features an interior of-soft brushed nylon. The back side of the Ristretto is padded with 1/4-inch closed cell foam.
The Ristretto for Apple iPad fits the iPad on its own or encased in other cases — including the Apple iPad Case. It’s available in black/steel, black/wasabi, cocoa/olive, olive/cayenne, and plum/wasabi. You can also choose from three shoulder straps (Standard, TerraGrip, Absolute) that attach to snaphooks via d-rings. The Ristretto comes with the Standard strap, but you can get the others as options for $30 each.
With all these features, the messenger bag offers some serious protection for your iPad. And it looks good, too. For us guys, its rugged appearance will ward off any “man-purse” jokes.
Speaking of man-purses, I don’t think the Ristretto can hold as much stuff as my wife crams into her purse (she has more items in it than Santa has toys in his bag). But you can get a surprising amount of goodies in the Ristretto.
Four hand-sewn pockets offer room for small items like pens, cell phones and the like. There’s also a zippered pocket, where you can stash things such as your billfold. There’s a bigger-still compartment (in which you can squeeze — if you squeeze really hard — an Apple Bluetooth keyboard), and, finally, the sewn-in padded case for the iPad. You can even insert the tablet if it’s already inside a slim sleeve or case. The main compartment — for the tablet — uses a simple flap that folds over the top of your iPad without Velcro, zippers, snaps or magnets.
Tom Bihn offers a magazine/newspaper pocket sewn to the back of the bag (although I’m sure Steve Jobs would prefer you buy all your reading magazine at the iBookstore). Three O-rings attached to the two main compartments and a fourth inside the zippered pocket. These hold organizer pouches, which come in various sizes and can be clipped to the O-rings. I use one to keep my headphones and a cleaning cloth handy. You can order extra organizer pouches with pricing starting at $7. Tom Bihn also offers a $2 key strap.
If you need a waterproof case, you’ll need to look elsewhere. The Ristretto isn’t waterproof, but Tom Bihn bags are coated on both sides for water resistance. Also note that the Tom Bihn case won’t accommodate an iPad in a thicker case.
Otherwise, if you need a tough, attractive iPad bag with lots of bells and whistles and plenty of options, the Ristretto is your baby.
Rating: 9 out of 10
— Dennis Sellers