Knomo Kyoto iPad bag review: looks great but costs the earth

an image of the Kyoto

an image of the Kyoto

Knomo’s Kyoto, a tiny leather bag for the iPad and iPad Mini, is another exceptionally well-made product that’s unfortunately too expensive to recommend. For what the Kyoto does (it holds one or two iPads and a smartphone), it’s hard to justify the £115 (US$177) price.

The Kyoto is also not that comfortable to wear, as the body strap kind of cuts into the flesh for some reason. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t a well-designed bag though. I’d go as far as to say that the Knomo range of leather bags are some of the best I’ve ever seen, regardless of intended function. These are bags you can wear and proudly show-off. Just not in my case.

As it’s a Knomo bag, the Kyoto is made to the highest of standards. The soft grain leather always feels incredible, even the lightweight fabric at the back of the bag (made out of recycled bottles) feels strong without the usual cheapness associated with polyurethane fabrics. Knomo’s zips are also another small part of the bag, but a quality addition that adds much to the Kyoto. These are almost “smart zips” as they never stick or fail to zip up, even from the most awkward of angles. I can imagine the quality controller having spent years perfecting the zipping and unzipping mechanism of each bag. And then there’s the wasabi-green padding inside the Kyoto, it’s stunning to look at and feel. This is not an ugly bag, it’s just priced beyond what I’d deem as “reasonable”.

It’s a niche product, a “it’s not for everyone” kind of deal. Perhaps my intentions are too broad for Kyoto, or maybe it just doesn’t suit my crowded gadget life. That’s not really the point though. If it’s my desire to spend close to US$200 on a bag, I don’t just want to flash off a cool metal Knomo label, I want a truly useful product.

Unfortunately, the Kyoto iPad bag is too restrictive to warrant a purchase. Unless of course you have a tiny laptop (a netbook-sized one), that should fit into the tiny storage compartments. But in that case, why are you spending the same amount of money as a netbook or iPad? I adore the Kyoto for the brand, style and feel. But it loses out when it comes to practicality and price. For this reason alone, I can’t recommend Knomo’s Kyoto.

Verdict: Knomo’s Kyoto looks and feels amazing, but is too expensive to warrant a purchase, and is too restrictive in scope to be truly useful. This is for a very specific crowd only, and one that may gloss over the Kyoto for admittedly cheaper products.

Score: 5/10

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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