PowerBook Luggage: Back Office Reviewed

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Date: Friday, January 11th, 2002, 10:59
Category: Luggage

Shawn Jackson Design's Back Office Backpack

After several weeks of use, I can confidently say Shaun Jackson Design‘s Back Office is one of the cleverest laptop designs I’ve seen — and I don’t even use it the way it’s intended!


Shawn Jackson Design's Back Office Backpack

After several weeks of use, I can confidently say Shaun Jackson Design‘s Back Office is one of the cleverest laptop designs I’ve seen — and I don’t even use it the way it’s intended!
The intended use of the bag, like its sibling the Lap Dog, is to provide a complete, organized desktop you can sit on your lap, and the design fits this purpose well. The bag unfolds from the center, revealing a center compartment in which the PowerBook sits, and two smaller compartments on either side, which will rest on a surface or if you’re sitting in a chair, hang over the sides of your legs providing easy access to peripherals, pens, etc. The PowerBook compartment is a particularly innovative design. The PowerBook itself is held in place by a rubberized surface that keeps it secure, while the computer’s screen unfolds against the upper wall of the compartment. The upper wall allows easy access to papers or cables. The backpack’s straps tuck neatly into their own zippered compartment, giving you a flat surface for your lap.

The question of whether this is useful to you has a lot to do with personal preference, how you work, and where you work. For instance, in coach class and on a commuter railroad, the bag’s side compartments make working with the bag in this configuration impossible. However, I found in general that I preferred taking the computer out of the bag anyway. I think many people will love the ability to work with their computer in the bag, with easy access to the bag’s compartments as they sit; it’s just not for me.

Fortunately, the bag’s design has ingenious compartmentalization that is a godsend regardless of how you work. An easy-access zipper allows you to remove the PowerBook without opening the case — perfect for getting through airport security. (I couldn’t make this work on my bag, which was an early production run, but since then Shaun Jackson has made the opening larger and fixed some manufacturing issues which made the bag on the snug side, so this should be no problem now.)

The two unfolding half-size compartments are a terrific way to store items that tend to get either lost (in large compartments) or smooshed (in small vertical compartments or pouches) in other bags. They were perfect for peripherals like my PowerMate, mouse, numeric keypad, and yo-yo power adapter. They also easily fit even larger paperback books, which tend to get eaten alive in other bags or to form uncomfortable bulges against your back. There are also compartments on each side of the flap that fits over the PowerBook that are perfect for magazines, papers, and other documents, and if that’s not enough, even a slightly sider document-shaped compartment on the back. The bag didn’t quite pass my “kitchen sink” test where I cram ridiculous amounts of stuff into it, but if you’re primarily working with your computers, its accessories, a paperback book, and a magazine or newspaper (not the NY Times Sunday, but maybe USA Today), this is the perfect bag.

The Back Office is also exemplary in terms of its construction and looks. Fit-and-finish is absolutely beautiful and after a month of heavy use I didn’t notice even the slightest damage or fraying. The bag has an understated slick, slim look that’s gotten lots of compliments — including some casual PC users who don’t understand Go2Mac’s obsession with luggage.

The Back Office is available from Shaun Jackson design for US$149.95.

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