COMMENTARY | COLUMNISTS | PHIL BAKER

A high-tech case study

I've been looking at a number of new carrying cases designed to accommodate the computers, accessories and other high-tech stuff that we lug with us to the office and on trips. These cases attempt to bring some order to carrying all these pieces of technology. All are cleverly designed and represent some of the best of the latest offerings. I've listed them by their capacity, from smallest to largest.

The Score computer carrier from FoggBags.

FoggBags (www.foggspecialistbags.com) has introduced its first computer bag, called Score. Beautifully designed and hand made by the Foggs, a husband and wife team, in their farmhouse in rural France. The Score is a slim bag made of golden-beige rubberized fabric and leather with a brass closure. It opens flat like a suit-folder with two sections, one compartment for a notebook computer and another for documents, with additional set of pockets for a PDA, small camera and cell phone. Score is available at www.tamarkin.com or www.ksphoto.com for $329. (15" x 12" x 3")

APC's TravelCase (www.apc.com) is a conventional black computer case with its front compartment fitted with a power adapter that plugs into an AC, automobile or airplane outlet. It can charge a computer and several other devices stored in the case, using optional adapters. The case holds a computer, a PDA, phone and MP3 in pockets with guides and holes to route the wires to the adapter. The adapter is much heavier than others available, and the case is not as well constructed as the others in this review. Cost is $150 for the case and $20 for the adapters. (15" x 14" x 5")

Tamrac (www.tamrac.com) of Chatsworth has created the Classic VI, a top-loading ballistic nylon bag with an assortment of pockets sized to hold a phone, tickets, passport, pens, gadgets, business cards and many more devices and accessories. It expands from a normal size bag for everyday use to one that completely fills the space under an airline seat. It has a cleverly designed slot running through its middle that fits on the handle of a wheeled suitcase. In its expanded state it can hold an extra computer or stack of files. Very well made in the United States, and one of my favorite large bags. Cost is $170, direct from Tamrac. (18" x 13" x 9")

Eagle Creek of Vista (www.eaglecreek.com), known for its practical and moderately priced soft bags, makes the Mobile Office. It a casual design on wheels with a number of pockets and a cavernous opening to hold bulky items as well as a computer. I found it good for a short trip, but the storage space was not as well structured as others for storing file folders and magazines vertically, and it had fewer compartments for the storage of small devices. Well made and an excellent value at $149. (17.5 x 16 x 10")

The best large leather cases available anywhere come from Glaser Designs of San Francisco (www.glaserdesigns.com). Glaser has recently introduced an organizer system -- a series of custom holsters, pockets and sleeves -- that attach to vertical panels to hold a variety of high-tech devices of all sizes. Combined with the company's Insiders, a variety of organizing folders to hold and organize files, documents and small items, the system provides removable compartments for just about everything. While not inexpensive, Glaser's products are well made, and should last many years. I've carried a large Glaser briefcase for five years and it's as good as new. Prices for the cases range from $475 to $995, ordered directly. (Cases up to 22" x 14" x 8")

When flying I try to stick to the two bag limit to avoid checking luggage, so I generally take bags that can hold as much as possible. But once arriving at my destination I like a smaller case. Tumi (www.tumi.com), a company whose products I really like, has come up with the model 96061, a large, soft-sided, expandable leather briefcase with a removable leather computer case that can be carried separately. The main case has many new features, including waterproof water bottle and umbrella pockets, a cell phone pocket, an opening for a headphone cord that can attach to a music player or phone inside the bag, and a pull-out pouch for storing an ID and other items while going through airport security. $595. (17.5"x 14"x 6.5")

When my wife complains about all my bags taking up space, I just point out all the purses she has. Just like hers, my choices vary based on what I need to carry, and my mood!


Baker has developed and marketed consumer and computer products for Polaroid, Apple, Seiko and others. He is the holder of 30 patents and was named San Diego's Ernst & Young Consumer Products Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000. He can be reached at phil.baker@sddt.com.

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