Product Review: WaterField Designs Surface Pro 3 Outback Slip Case

Product Review: WaterField Designs Surface Pro 3 Outback Slip Case

I've reviewed products from WaterField before. The last time was back in October when the company released its first messenger bag for the Surface Pro 3 (read that review HERE). And, while that particular bag was not able to replace my favorite bag (the Kenneth Cole Backstreet DayBag), it still proved to be a very solid, very valuable and accommodating product. For most, the VirtiGo 2.0 Messenger Bag will fit the bill. If I hadn't already become accustomed to traveling with my Kenneth Cole, it would definitely be the one I carry regularly now.

Yesterday, the Outback Slip Case for the Surface Pro 3 showed up at my door, and I was very much excited to rip open the FedEx package to check it out. So, I did.

There's two different worlds of thought around carrying a slipcase versus a regular bag, but I've found that there's actually a need for both. A bag is what you use to carry your tablet and all the miscellaneous things you need for a longer excursion away from the office. A slipcase, of course, doesn't offer additional storage for things like a power supply and an external mouse, nor does it offer a pocket to temporarily house your smartphone. But, what it does offer is an easy way to protect your tablet investment for shorter trips where power and peripherals are not required. If you're traveling across the office, across the campus, or across town for a meeting, it works a treat.

I already employ both a bag and a slipcase. As stated, the Kenneth Cole is my bag of choice for reasons obvious in the review. My slipcase, is from Maroo. I've never reviewed this case, but it's on my list of things to do. Look for that soon.

That said, I'm very much enamored with Outback Slip Case from WaterField, and it will be replacing the Maroo – at least for now. Let me tell you why.

WaterField is keen to fashion, function, and design. Any of the company's products I've ever reviewed have been extremely high quality, and the Outback Slip Case follows suit. The outside is made from waxed canvas with leather accents and the inside is soft and padded to ensure the tablet screen is protected in luxury. The sides of the bag have plastic inserts (instead of fiber cardboard like most bags) to keep the tablet safe and sturdy.

The Surface Pro 3 fits inside the bag both with the keyboard and without. Obviously, it’s a bit more snug and takes a bit more effort to insert the tablet when the keyboard is still attached, but it works well. And, honestly, I think I prefer using it with the keyboard since that affords an extra level of protection. As shown in the following image, the Surface Pro 3 fits even if I leave the pen in the pen loop.

The case opening is held together by a magnetic leather strap. It's not a snap, but a smartly crafted magnet in both the strap and the upper part of the case. The magnet is adequately strong so the strap won't start flapping in the wind or come unlatched accidentally.

I noticed right away that there is one thing missing from the Outback Slip Case that my Maroo provides, and, this has become a point of contention for me when researching replacement bags. I usually require a secondary pen loop somewhere on the bag. The Maroo provides this inside, but the Outback Slip Case offers no option (except, well...see my update below). But, what I found, and I'm not sure if it was meant this way, is that the closure strap can be utilized in one of three ways to secure the Surface Pro 3 pen temporarily and also more permanently.

Because the Surface Pro 3 pen has a metal casing, the strap's magnet provides a great alternative to an additional pen loop. Shown in the next image, the pen can adhere magnetically under the strap, over the strap, or you can utilize the pen's clip to attach it more firmly. To test the magnet strength, I attached the pen and shook the bag. The pen stayed put. Now, its not going to stay put should you decide to shake the bag violently for some reason, but for normal jostling it works just fine.

UPDATE: Well, color me embarrassed. Since posting this review, I was contacted by the good folks at WaterField to let me know that there IS a loop for the Surface Pro 3 pen included with the case. See...they really did think of everything. Obviously, there's no note in the bag packaging to indicate this feature, so I don't feel too stupid. If you turn the case to expose the back, WaterField has included a special loop as part of the leather strap mechanism just for the Surface Pro 3 pen, giving it a storage location that is easily accessible. So, there you go. It is a perfect slip case, after all. You can still use the ideas above, but for permanent storage, use the provided loop.

Incidentally, while I'm using the version for the Surface Pro 3, the Outback Slip Case is also available to fit the Google Nexus 9, the Kindle Voyage, the Kindle Fire HDX, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S, and both the 8" and 10" versions of the Yoga Tablet 2. Pricing ranges from $59 to $69 depending on the model you choose. The one I'm reviewing, for the Surface Pro 3, sits at the high range of $69.

Bottom line: The Outback Slip Case is a great solution for those looking for a short trip case that is protective, functional, solidly engineered, and just looks professional. I've already destined this case to replace my Maroo.

The Outback Slip Case is only available for purchase through the WaterField web site and you can find it (and more information) here:  Outback Slip Case for Tablets


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