A Cool Bag With Utility That Is Unparalleled.

There are tons of iPad carriers out there today. Before the iPad was even available on the market, bags were churned out by various companies to carry the new device from Apple. When I was looking over the web to see what was out there I was bombarded with so many different products and variations I was on over-load. But one caught my eye (and I have a scrutinous eye) from a company called Cocoon Innovations.  Cocoon produces a large and wide variation of bags and carriers for various devices and needs.

Cocoon’s product aside for a moment, I believe it worth mentioning my personal dealings with Cocoon, which were “interesting” to put it diplomatically.  When I first discovered Cocoon before the iPad WiFi was released, I made contact with Cocoon, introduced myself, explained the purpose of my call (this article) and swiftly got off the phone with the feeling I was not being taken seriously.  At this time the “Harlem – CSN346 iPad/Netbook Sling” product was still in production. I waited patiently until the Harlem Sling (HS) was available (about two weeks).  After this I resumed to make contact aggressively over the next month as I waited for the iPad 3G to be released (which is what I was getting for myself).  I left messages, I sent emails with no response.  Finally, I purchased one of the HS’s and in about 4 days it was at my door.

Upon receipt of my HS, I decided to call Cocoon one last time to inform them that an article about their product was imminent, to be written by yours truly.  I decided to avoid the typical insider channels and simply give a message to customer service to deliver to the powers that be as to what was coming.  So I called.  The reception I got was again…interesting, considering I was calling “Customer Service”.  An individual answered the Phone with a “Hello”.  “How odd” I thought, considering I was calling a place of business.  For a split second I believed I called the wrong number, but realized that this seemed par for the course in relation to Cocoon’s corporate culture as I had experienced it thus far.  After the “Hello” on their end, I proceeded to begin my polite dialogue which is customary for me, saying “Good day to you, am I speaking to Customer Service at Cocoon Innovations?”  I was greeted with a “Yes how may I help you?”  I asked: “May I ask who I am speaking to?”  “You’re the one who called, who are you?” was my response.

I laughed and realized immediately I was on the phone with the exact same individual I spoke to that one and only time 6 weeks prior.  I addressed them by their full name, re-introducing myself and that I received my HS and was going to be doing a review article on the product.  Upon this, and the fact I explained how I bought the HS, it was only then I could not get off the phone.  I got every contact I could ask for with direct numbers and emails.  Like I said…Interesting to say the least.  Now if you decide to go with this company, this does not necessarily mean your experience will be like mine, I may just have been unlucky.  However, normally companies and organizations with this kind of attitude towards press and their customer base don’t go far and churn out unimpressive product.  I am happy to tell you that this case is an exception to that rule.

Corporate culture and manners aside, Cocoon turns out a rather fabulous product.  My Harlem Sling is mine and my iPad’s best friend.  Whenever I go someplace with my iPad it is in the HS.  Wherever I go, the iPad within the protective and convenient embrace of the HS makes me feel secure as well as affording me convenient and easy access to my Tablet and all the accoutrements I bring to accompany it.  The bag is constructed of a Nylon Condura, with three distinctive and separate zippered pockets.  An adjustable shoulder strap (that is not removable) is attached making the HS look like a large “Fanny-Pack”.  But do not let that visual I just described deter you, this is a pretty fashionable accessory. So to be clear, Fanny-Pack, bad…Shoulder bag that looks like Fanny-Pack, good! Go figure…

The main pocket which is designed to hold either an iPad or a 10″ Netbook, is lined with a nylon interior.  The second pocket is designed to hold your devices accessories and comes with Cocoon’s patented “Grid” (which I will get into later).  In this pocket are smaller pockets for ancillary items such as change, wallet, pens and other nick-knacks.  One large interior pocket and then on the other side, 4 card holders, 2 pens holders,  and then a pocket with a Velcro flap.  The third exterior zippered pocket is a small pocket on the front sized perfectly to tote an iPod, iPhone, MP3 player and even sports a gasket hole to allow headphone cords to be placed through to access the music device that lies within.  The bag is light and very utilitarian without sacrificing that “cool factor”.

    L:8.5″ x W:3.5″ x H:15.25″
    L:21.6cm x W:9cm x H:38.7cm
    L:11.4″ x W:1.2″ x H:8.1″
    L:29cm x W:3cm x H:20.5cm
    L:8.25″ x W:0.34″ x H:7.5″
    L:21cm x W:0.9cm x H:19cm

That last dimension notation refers to the item that turns the HS from a *yawn*, bag to a seriously COOL BAG.  To be honest it is the prime feature that made it stand above all the others.  It is called “Grid”.  Basically it is a nylon covered piece of flat plastic or cardboard that is then covered with randomly weaved together and then fastened (what looks like) underwear elastic bands with rubber nodules peppered on them.  This is Cocoon’s “Grid”.  The Grid is really an almost ridiculous concept that is so silly and so stupid-simple it is nothing short of ingenious.  What this does is allow you to securely and neatly pack your gear and accessories within the confines of these straps and, much like your BVDs, the Grid holds your junk in place and secure, yet allows easy access to it.  The straps are very elastic allowing items to be firmly held in an organized fashion but yet loose enough to pull items out for use with little fanfare and it can be situated in endless configurations.  A nice addition to all this utility, is that the back side of the Grid is flat and unfettered, allowing it to also be used as a traveling mouse pad.  Cool, huh?  The Grid, is not mutually exclusive to the HS.  It is available as a stand alone item and can be used within the confines of any bag or carrier you own.  Prices vary depending on the size you choose.

I have absolutely no complaints or a thing bad to say about the HS.  It does what it is supposed to do and with the addition of the Grid, performs above and beyond the call of duty.  I would have liked to have seen the HS to be easily converted into a more executive looking bag though.  A removable shoulder strap combined with a zip-out/zip-in carrying handle while making the corners of the bag itself less rounded and more sharp would serve to do this clearly.  However, this aside, as far as casual carriers go, I honestly believe that this carrier for your iPad is the best available on the market from what I have seen and handled to date.  It is one tough little bag that will protect your iPad well as I had the bag on a bus in the above overhead compartment and when the bus hit a bump it came crashing down on my GFs head and it suffered no damage or the contents within.  Don’t worry about my GF though, her head is like a rock…Have a conversation with her sometime and you’ll see what I mean.  I was more concerned with the iPad and the bag and in this instance, there were no casualties on either side.  Anyway…The HS comes in three color options:

Black w/ Burst Yellow Int.
Gun Grey w/ Orange Int.
Racing Red w/ Brown Int

The HS, will run you about $54.99 which is pretty pricey for a bag this size and I would say that is a bit too high but the addition of the Grid saves it, making it rest on the high side of affordability. So is it worth the money?  I use mine all the time without fail.  It is my carrier of choice and I cannot say enough good things about the Grid for as Cocoon says, “It allows you to succumb to your OCD without attracting the style police” and I hate things moving around in my bags and hate even more having to sift through a jumble of junk to find the one item I seek.  I report, you decide, but if it means anything to you, I got mine…and I love it!