Wednesday June 20, 2007 12:47 am
Tom Bihn Smart Alec Laptop Backpack Review
Quality and Convenience. These are the words that immediately come to mind about Tom Bihn’s Smart Alec laptop backpack and accessories. Available in 4 color combinations, this bag is as stylish as it is functional. But let’s start with Quality. The large, roomy (18.5” x 11.75” x 7.75”), Smart Alec is made of 1050 denier Ballistic and 1000 denier Cordura nylons, and is lined with 500 denier Dupont Cordura nylon. Translation? This bag is strong, and seemingly indestructible, exemplified by their lifetime guarantee. Plus, both the back of the backpack and the straps are heavily padded. My first time out with Alec, I was carrying at least 10 pounds of laptop and other stuff—and yet Alec was surprising comfortable on my back. If you plan on using the Smart Alec as a laptop bag, I highly recommend the Brain Cell, a soft, lightweight but tough-as-nails shell for your computer, with 8mm of durable foam padding. The Brain Cell (which, with its two mesh pockets and shoulder strap attachments can itself be used as a laptop bag) is of the highest quality and durability. The Brain Cell even attaches to the interior of the Smart Alec with “Annex Clips”, further securing your precious PC. I actually dropped Alec twice—with my laptop inside—and wasn’t even remotely concerned about damage to my Gateway. That’s how confident I was in the Brain Cell (my laptop is just fine, by the way).
Now, lets talk about Convenience. I love pockets, and Alec is practically overrun with them: on the sides (large enough for a bottled water or small to medium gadget), deep inside the bag (this is where I kept my iPod and headphones), and there are 4 small pouches within Alec’s lid, perfect for a wireless mouse, cell phone, or smaller MP3 device. If you’re a business traveler, or like me, the type that carries everything with their laptop: peripherals, papers, cords, gadgets, stationary and more, Tom Bihn has an excellent array of accessories that can be used with one of their bags or your own. For example…
The Snake Charmer
This is actually a pouch measuring 10.5 x 5.5 x 3.5”, with 2 large, zippered mesh pockets. These can be used for your cords, mice, portable drivers, power supply or really, anything. I put my power supply and cord in one, and makeup n’ stuff in the other. See? Convenient.
The Freudian Slip
This is a slim padded sleeve that fits perfectly in the Smart Alec. One side has thin pockets for important papers (or even folders), while the other side has multiple pockets in assorted sizes, including two medium-sized mesh ones. Carry a pen, pencil, sandwich, PDA, cell phone and a camera with you, all in the Freudian.
Another accessory to consider is the Organizer Pouch. Available in sizes from Mini to Large, they’re great for the traveler, as they hold a wide variety of items, from keys to file folders. Plus, each one has an attached D-Ring, so it can be clipped to the keysnap inside a Tom Bihn tote or backpack. I found the pouches to be an excellent alternative to the Freudian Slip, depending on what I was carrying that particular day. The Organizer Pouches are available in a wide variety of fun colors and are made of sturdy denier.
At an MSRP of $110, the Smart Alec is of incredibly high quality and durability, and well worth the money. The same can be said of the accessories, which are not only well-constructed, but it’s clear a lot of thought went into the design of each one, for maximum usability and organization by the user (especially the Freudian Slip). Plus, the Tom Bihn website is a pleasure to navigate, elegant even, with a surprising amount of humor thrown in. A purchase of Tom Bihn’s merchandise is an investment you will not regret.