Always Free To Place a Hit On Someone
The 70s Girls Laptop Case is certainly not the answer for someone looking to bring a lot of items along for a day, but I found it fit everything I needed when I was running out for a quick meeting or to do some work at a coffee shop. The only negative thing I can say about it is that it's not my taste, aesthetically. You'll definitely want to check out the adventurous prints before buying, but I think the $68 price tag is a bargain for a bold, comfortable tote that keeps your laptop snugly in place.For women who constantly haul around a laptop, I've found few laptop bags that are both practical and fashionable. Kempton and Darrow is trying to change that. The New York City-based designing duo has created a line of chic, multi-function bags that aim to please the techie girl on the go. Having decided that I fit that bill, I spent a week using the $425 Rough Night Deceiver Bag as my only purse/bag.
Kempton and Darrow designs its bags to take the place of two different bags—a laptop bag and a purse. As a result, these don't look like traditional computer bags. The Rough Night Deceiver is one of the smallest of the collection and basically looks like a laptop sleeve sandwiched between two medium-sized purses. The sleeve can hold up to a 13-inch laptop (or an iPad, of course) and the rest of the bag has plenty of room for chargers, cords, and whatnot.Since I don't personally own a 13.3-inch MacBook, I borrowed an appropriately sized notebook—a 3-pound Asus U36—for the week. It fit snug in the central sleeve and was well-protected during 7 days of toting it around San Francisco on MUNI Metro, in the basket of my bike, and even to a beach barbecue. Over the course of those urban travels, I regularly received complements on the Rough Night Deceiver from friends, coworkers, and even strangers on the street.If you're a fan of leather—give me the smell of fresh leather over a cotton/hemp blend any day—Kempton and Darrow's black cowhide is very nice. I could see it breaking in nicely over extended use. The leather straps are decorated with metal rivets and tie neatly around a round, metal carabineer on either side of the bag. I do have a couple complaints about the bag's construction. First, the rivets-and-sturdy-leather design makes the bag itself somewhat heavy. Second, the bag's metal hardware seems a little on the flimsy side given the price.
The sections of the bag on either side of the laptop sleeve are held closed by magnets. This is a neat feature because it allows for quick access to your stuff while keeping the bag's contents secure. The downside is that this magnetic closure can be opened subtly—a theft concern for someone like me who gets around primarily by bus or on foot. Also, the magnets are weak enough that they don't always keep the bag closed—for example, when I stuck a water bottle and a paperback book inside.The purse areas have plenty of pockets. There's one zippered exterior pocket on each side of the bag that's big enough to fit a phone. On the interior of one side is a 16-inch key tether and two big pockets—described as “bottle cozies,” but I used them to hold my inhalers and iPod—and a small pocket that's ideal for pens. The other side’s interior has a large, zippered pocket. The laptop sleeve also has a pocket that's perfect for a power cord. These features add to the bag’s practicality, as I could easily fit and organize all of my stuff.
Where all this hyper-practicality turned me off, though, is in the bag's size. Sure, you can’t expect a purse that can hold a laptop, a book, and a six-pack to be petite, but the bulk of the bag made it difficult to carry at times. When it was full and resting on my shoulder, I couldn’t carry anything else with that arm, and I couldn’t even put that hand in my pocket. My arm just kind of hung there like a penguin’s flipper—but it was much less adorable. As a result, I think this is a great bag for traveling from home to work and back, but I wouldn’t recommend it as an everyday, everywhere purse.I'm not the type of person who spends a lot of money on clothes and purses, so I find it a little hard to justify $425 for a laptop bag. But if you're a laptop-toting fashionista with some cash to spare, the Kempton and Darrow Rough Night Deceiver bag will protect your laptop nd hold more stuff than you know what to do with.
Mission Workshop’s $180 The Sanction is a laptop bag that’s prepared to take a beating. This backpack—nay, rucksack—has a waterproof construction and is designed with a full day’s essentials in mind. As long as you’re not obsessed with packing every pen and flash drive in its own little pocket, this is a solid bag that can take your daily commute and the elements in stride.The Sanction is a tall backpack with plenty of individual compartments of varying size. Two of the three main compartments, each of which runs the full height of the bag, have open tops that are protected by the bag’s main flap. These two compartments each have more than enough room to store a couple books and a rolled up hoodie or rain shell. The third main compartment, capable of accommodating a 15-inch MacBook Pro, is protected by a waterproof zipper, as are two additional smaller compartments on the front of the bag. A third small compartment on the front of the bag, near the bottom, is secured with a velcro flap, but its opening is restricted to prevent the elements from seeping in.
The Sanction gets a lot of things right, especially when it comes to small details and construction polish. Its tall design offers a lot of storage space without turning you into the Hunchback of the Commuter Train, and at only 2.6 pounds when empty, the bag itself won’t weigh you down. However, I feel Mission Workshop skimped when it comes to padding, a key element of any computer bag. The notebook compartment (the one at the very back of the bag that’s protected with a waterproof zipper) has decent padding against your back, but the opposite wall, facing the rest of the bag and the bottom of the pack, has little—during my testing, I didn’t feel confident that my MacBook was protected against the typical bumps and bruises of commuting. Putting your MacBook in its own padded sleeve solves the problem, but I’d prefer that Mission Workshop offered a little more built-in protection.
The Sanction is also different from most of the computer bags I’ve seen in that its smaller compartments don’t have the typical array of pockets and sleeves for separating things such as pens, flash drives, identification, keys, and cables. Fortunately, there are two of these small compartments so you don’t have to toss all your trinkets into one big grab bag. One pocket is higher up on the front of the bag and protected by both a waterproof zipper and the main flap, while the aforementioned other pocket is lower on the bag and more accessible since it’s protected by its own Velcro flap.Overall I like this bag, though I’m still a bit disappointed by the padding issue. That aside, bags built to withstand the elements this well are rare, and as a commuter in Chicago, it’s hard to avoid getting caught out in the elements. The Sanction’s top-notch construction and weatherproofing make me much less concerned about waiting in the typical storm.
Shoulder bags are tricky beasts: Everyone has their own preferences about size, length, orientation (portrait or landscape), strap width, and color—it’s hard for one bag to check off every box. When vendors attempt to do just this, the bag often feels like a mishmash of too many different styles and features, and ends up being more clunky than functional.In contrast, SGP’s $63 Klasden Neumann shoulder bag—available in charcoal, violet/yellow, red, navy, or grey/baby blue—looks spectacularly minimal. (Note that SGP's website is currently being redesigned; in the meantime, the company redirects visitors to its Amazon.com storefront.) Outwardly, the bag looks like a simple, rugged-nylon courier pouch, with a recessed, zippered pocket on the front, and another on the back, for miscellaneous objects. The main compartment is similarly minimalist, offering a faux-fur-lined laptop sleeve that's secured shut with a Velcro strap, along with two slim, Velcro pouches and three pen holders. According to SGP, the bag is designed to fit laptops up to a 13-inch MacBook Pro; when carrying a smaller computer (an 11-inch MacBook Air, for instance), the Velcro strap prevents the laptop from sliding around.
The bag’s main strap consists of a smooth polyester—similar to a high-end seatbelt—with an adjustable, Velcro-clasped shoulder pad for ergonomic support. While the bag is a bit too big, length-wise, for my 5-foot-6 frame, taller women and men may find it a very nice fit. The bag's body is curved to sit nicely against your waist, so that even when packed full, it doesn’t stick out or bounce around.The Klasden Neumann isn't the fanciest bag on the market, but it does its job well. If you’re a student, tech worker, or anyone who needs a good, all-around shoulder bag, I recommend checking it out.The best tools are designed purposefully. A tool designed to do anything might be great in certain circumstances–if you’re stranded without a corkscrew in the Swiss mountains, for example–but I’d argue that the best tools are those that have been designed with a user, and a use, in mind.This is a philosophy that Apple seems to share, at least most of the time. And it serves the company well.One of the maxims that TV food personality Alton Brown used to repeat on his late, great Food Network series Good Eats was that in the kitchen, tools with only one use–unitaskers–were generally a bad idea. And I’d generally agree, especially in a field (kitchen gadgets) littered with junky one-trick-pony products frequently advertised on TV. (Look at that tomato! Now how much would you pay?)
But while a certain amount of flexibility is always welcome (I got rid of our rice cooker once I tried Brown’s approach), the best tools have a point of view. You might not use the tool as intended, it’s true–in fact, most great software is used for all sorts of things for which it was never designed–but it was probably designed with a vision for particular uses, or at least users.I’ve been thinking about this subject a lot this week, as I’ve been using the Logi Create keyboard with my 12.9-inch iPad Pro for the first time.The Create, $150 on Amazon, was the first third-party accessory to take advantage of the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector, the same one Apple uses for its ultra-slim Smart Keyboard. But while the Smart Keyboard attempts to tuck an ultra-thin fabric keyboard inside a slightly swollen Smart Cover, the Create does something entirely different: it replicates a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air keyboard, right down to the backlighting and silver finish. Snap the iPad Pro into a plastic housing and it’s suddenly a laptop.
On the surface, it seems like a brilliant idea: Why type on a thin keyboard cover with very little key travel when you can get a no-compromises laptop-style keyboard instead? But after using one, I can’t help think that the Create is exactly the wrong approach. As much as its keys replicate those on my laptop, my iPad Pro is not my laptop.The Create negates so many of the advantages of the iPad without adding enough to make it worth it. I write on my iPad Pro all the time, with an external keyboard, but with the Smart Keyboard or an external Bluetooth keyboard I can rapidly pick up the iPad and treat it like a tablet. The Create requires me to remove it from its tight plastic housing.The Create is an accessory that tries to make my iPad into a Mac, and that’s not a use it’s suited for. I love my iPad Pro a lot, and use it for real work, but it’s not a Mac and trying to make it one does it no favors.