On one of my sessions surfing the net for interesting stuff to post on the site I came across an accessory that actually made a lot of sense: the BlueLounge Kicks. The concept is simple; you stick two rubber strips to the back of your tablet and when you put it down on a table the back won’t get scratched. Since I’m usually one to keep my iPad naked on the back, I thought the idea was great and ordered a set, as they are only $12 for a pack of four with very reasonable worldwide shipping. I was right, too; the idea is good. The execution, however, not so much.
The whole idea of the Kicks is to stick the rubber strips onto the back of your tablet or iPad, as they call it (obviously you could use this on any tablet that’s long enough). Once on, they protect your tablet in all sorts of situations, from putting it flat down on a table to leaning it against things and even from dropping, if you somehow dropped it completely flat down. I used it for a day of lectures, and they work great. They’re low profile enough to not get annoying while providing both direct protection and an anti-slip feature for when the tablet is lying down flat. They go well with the design and obviously add a lot less bulk to the tablet while providing many of the same features as a case. The price can’t be beaten either, at $6 per tablet you put these on.
Unfortunately, I don’t think BlueLounge has much experience with adhesives. What they call “3M Damage-Free Adhesive,” I would suggest calling “3M Adhesive-Free Adhesive” instead. The strips seem to have some sort of micro suction cups or something like that (used on e.g., the PadPivot) rather than traditional adhesives, and while that’s fine for accessories that you take on and off all the time (like the PadPivot) it’s not really a usable solution for something that should ideally stay on there for a while. Just look at how the back of my iPad looked after carrying it in my bag from the lecture hall and home – literally about 200 meters:
Since the Kicks are extremely flexible and hard to apply straight to begin with, readjusting them every time you’ve had your tablet in a bag is just not worth it. Not to mention that they’ll probably fall off completely sooner or later, likely the former. There are plenty of adhesives out there that don’t leave marks and all the while actually stay on – heck, that’s what every single vinyl skin uses. I understand BlueLounge’s idea of having a product that can be put on and taken off seemingly at will, but when that added feature actually makes the main feature useless then something went horribly wrong during product testing.
All in all, the Kicks is a product that takes a good idea and makes a bad product out of it. The very first thing BlueLounge should do is to get some actual adhesive on these things and archive the micro suction cup (or whatever it is) system once and for all. Then they should redesign the packaging so that it can serve as a guide for putting these things on straight and parallel, as that’s not easy either. In the meantime, you should probably order some double-sided tape and a ruler when you order the Kicks. Even then it’s a fairly cheap accessory though, so all is not lost.[BlueLounge]