Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: OtterBox Utility Latch

Here is a piece of kit that came to my attention following a comment by one of my readers after my review of my iPhone case . Up till then, my iPad has been naked tech, no case, cover or guard. It still lives in my CSI folder which in turn lives in my messenger bag but doesn't do anything for it when I'm -using- it. So here is what I have added to give me some more security and functionality. This is the OtterBox Utility Series Latch . The basic idea is that four elastic loops attached to a nylon webbing backing hoop over the four corners of the device. A loop of nylon tape gives an attachment point for the included S-clip.

That however is just the beginning, that nylon backing is a platform for a variety of very clever accessories. The webbing itself features a wide handstrap with removable padding that can either be gripped or slip over you knife-hand style. Because the central webbing is square, and the elastic loops are all equal, the device can be held portrait or landscape, as best suits your needs. Each corner of the webbing hosts a plastic tag with an eyelet, through which I have fed a length of shock-cord, purely as an extra place to secure any documents I get handed in meetings I don't take my CSI folder to.
Those tags are designed to take the accessory baggie that comes with the Latch, which is itself billed as a "angled stand" and performs this task well, with twin S-clips to again give portrait or landscape proppage, but I found it to be awkward to carry around with this in place, and have relegated it to my messenger bag, for when I need it. The included accessories are pretty cool in and of themselves. A rain-cover made of elastic hemmed waterproofed rip-stop. I'm not sure how useful this will be in a big wet, but for times when I am without a bag to store my device in, or when I know I will be in and out of a drizzle, or something.

The narrow shoulder strap will let me go hands free in a slinging fashion, should I desire, or offer me a platform to write on if i balance one edge of my device on my belt buckle. Seeing as I can type one handed on my iPad, and use the big S-clip to secure it to my holster-harness or riggers-belt I haven't had much use for this either. The wide elastic belt, however, I am very much looking forwards to using. It affixes through the main-body webbing, where the yellow nylon can be seen in the top picture, and becomes either a thigh-strap (for pilots, drivers, or boring meeting Angry Birds players) OR it can be fitted to the back of a car seat head-rest, for running back-seat movies and games for little people amusement. A very cool feature, with a lot of potential. The buckle end is sturdy, and the hook-and-loop fixture is long enough to fit a variety of legs I think.

Whilst I cant say this is a ruggedising or especially protective piece of kit, and I have had a couple of occasions where the elastic loops have slipped, and lost full grip on my device, which was a bit scary, I like how well it fits my grip, allowing me a much more natural tap-tap-tapping stance, without having to white-knuckle as I wander about reading my ITS Tactical App or browsing for more toys. A relaxed body responds to change much faster than a rigid one. One thing it does do to protect my device, is that the elastic loops act as spaces for me screen, padding and buffering its contact with whatever I put it down on. No more gran of sand scratches!.

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