Sunday, 1 June 2008

UrbanTool hipHolster mobile phone holder review: more victim than fashion

How do you carry around your cellphone and other electronic gadgets without losing them, if you don't just want to stuff 'em in your pocket, hand / man bag, briefcase or backpack the old-fashioned way? If like me you've loads of little gadgets to carry round with you, and you're looking for the perfect holder, well don't buy UrbanTool products.

Krusell cases are I've found convenient for phones, but ideally you need to wear a belt to clip the case to. They're good e.g. for use at work (though they can break). But what if you want to cart around several gadgets, like the iPod & multiple phone-owning gadget fiend that you are?

UrbanTool's hipHolster belt sounded good to me at first. You can click it on and off quickly, as it has a fastening like a bumbag's, and it has several pockets built in for your many electronic toys like phones and digital cameras, etc.

However I really wouldn't recommend this stretchy cloth belt for your precious electronic stuff, because:
  1. It's expensive for what you get - about £28 currently - probably trying to milk the fashion victims who think it looks trendy

  2. It's not very strong or tough - the buckle is just made of flimsy plastic, the male end especially is easily bent out of shape e.g. by the weight of your toys, so the belt fastening can come apart and send your gizmos swiftly floorward (you'd think they'd use metal given the potential value of the gadgets that could be housed in it, but nope)

  3. It's not practical - the pockets are too small. The pockets do have stretchy covers you can pull over the gadget to hide and protect it (I moved the cover so you could see my phone sticking out in the photo above), but the design's badly thought through and the pockets are too small for some gadgets, it's strictly for smallish phones only. If they'd provided just one large pocket, maybe it would have been livable with.

  4. It's too fiddly for females - try going to the ladies while wearing this belt, and you'll see what I mean! Even without fastening the thigh strap, it still gets in the way - unless you take the whole belt off first and then put it back on afterwards, which is a big pain in the proverbial

  5. It's cheapo in quality though not in price - even if you think it looks kinda cool, it's just not that well built (see above); note that the "leather look" bits are artificial, not real leather, despite the price they charge

  6. UrbanTool's customer "service" are useless, never replying to any pre or post sales enquiries.

So, the idea seems great, but they're clearly going for fashion rather than practicality, and that attitude seems to permeate their entire range: a friend of mine had to send back one of their sports holsters bought for listening to the radio while running, as it just didn't do the job - too measly with the material, you could possibly squeeze your pet mouse in there if you're that lonely when you run, but not your Blackberry.

I believe it's possible for gadget holders / belts or holsters to both be practical and look decent - but UrbanTool seem to care only about looks. Strictly for fashion victims only. And "victim" is the operative word here, if you buy one.

So I'm back to Krusell cases, despite their penchant for falling apart.

What I really really want is a strong Wild West style hip belt for gadgets instead of guns in a tough material like thick leather, adjustable in length, with lots of strong gadget pockets of different sizes that close at the top (zipped preferably), and click-on/off fastenings for speed (no fiddly belt buckles and holes for me! ) made of steel for strength (both halves). Even a shoulder holster with pockets, which you can put on and take off easily, would be good. As long as there's at least one pocket big enough for my precious Psion!

Meanwhile, anyone want to buy an Urban Tool hipHolster cheap, only used a couple of times, and certainly worn with extra special care whilst in the ladies'...?


Demetri said...

Looks like something Han Solo would wear.

Improbulus said...

Yeah, except then he'd have been killed because it would have got in his way or wouldn't have enough room for his baddies-busting gear (or his weapons would have fallen out and not been there when he needed them).