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Monday June 5, 2006 9:03 pm

Gear Live Review: Tom Bihn Archetype Laptop Bag

Ponzi Archetype

We had our girl Ponzi take the new Tom Bihn Archetype bag (in Leopard print!) for a spin since we knew she would look a lot better carrying around a bag like this than we would. She tested the bag with her 12” ThinkPad, and reports back with her thoughts on the new bag. You can check out the Archetype Gallery for more images, and the full review after the jump.


Tom Bihn’s Archetype laptop in snow leopard is an eye-catcher, even across congested airport walkways. It has sleek lines that round at the edges and it’s smooth to the touch. The zipper is completely encased which gives it a cleaner look with less possibility of snagging. The handles are thin, light, rugged, and neatly made of rubber. My favorite quality of “Snowy,” as I affectionately call it, is its lightness. This little baby only weighs ounces, not pounds - a quality all women covet in such a case.

Ponzi Archetype

If leopard print isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry, it is also offered in a cork type of look and galvanized option. Check the site for details. The inside of this particular case is made of 8mm-thick closed cell foam. It feels sturdy and soft to the touch. The case was designed to be laptop-friendly in that you can open it and work on your laptop (literally). The laptop case looks as if the computer would sit within snug as a bug edge-to-edge. Tom Bihn claims there should be no worries over heat build-up and says check his FAQs for more info on that. All in all, I really like the way it looks (and there is definite quality in the craftsmanship). I think it will work really well and look good.


Uh-oh, this is where trouble began. This case is made for a 12” laptop, according to my benefactor, Andru Edwards from GearLive.com. I have a 12” X40 IBM ThinkPad. Why doesn’t it fit? I figured out it was my extra long life battery that pushed me out of the “snug as a bug” realm. With lots of tugging and squishing, I was able to close it 98% of the way shut. After jogging over to its Web site to see the sizing information, I found that it must cater exclusively to Mac users. When I pulled down its “select your laptop” sizing menu my only choices were 12” Powerbook, 13” MacBook, 15.4” MacBook Pro, and 17” MacBook Pro. Dang it, what about all us lonely PC users who need designer quality laptop coverage?

Archetype Stuffed

I really like the way this case looks and I figure I’m going to use it anyway even if my laptop looks a little “too fat” for the nice slim case. As I was packing up to go on a business trip I went to grab my battery and cables, um, where was I supposed to carry those? I ended up dumping them into my purse. That also made me think - if I’m not supposed to carry the charging cord, why didn’t the powers that be leave room for my extended life battery? I also thought: eek, if I had my docking station on this X40, it might not fit at all. So, I can squish it in - only leaving 2% of the case open on top, but I cannot put the docking station on. That means no DVDs - I guess that’s okay, because without the charging cord, I wouldn’t have the juice to watch said DVDs on the plane ride, anyway.

To be totally honest, I didn’t end up taking this laptop case with me on a recent trip because it was impractical. I liked the way it looked, but it lost out in a short toss up between it and ol’ faithful - an extra long, rectangular, metallic copper purse. I found that one at Target for $18.00! With a jelly sleeve for added coverage, I opted for “copper” (choosing practicality first, and little bit of style second). Copper also has a pocket inside for my charger, and space for the cord as well as an additional docking station.

Archetype Waterproof Zipper


Tom Bihn Archetype Review ScoreOn quality, I give a rating of 9.0 for detail in workmanship and great materials. On style, I give it a 7.0 for interesting choice of print. I personally love snow leopard (in small portions, of course). The sleek lines bolstered this category score as well. On functionality, I have to give this case a 2.0 because it’s not practical for business trips. Without an area for extra battery or charging cord, it forces people to carry another bag. I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to shoot for the least amount of grey boxes in the security line; juggling isn’t my strength! Snowy and cute sometimes just don’t cut it. Bottom line: I recommend this laptop bag for Apple computer users going on very short trips. You can pick one up for $95.00 USD at the Tom Bihn website. Everyone else? Get a bigger, more practical bag. Cuteness optional.

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