Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mac-Case Messenger Review

Any of you guys who plan on continuing through the communication design program and working as a graphic designer are likely to buy a macbook or macbook pro (why haven't you already?) As soon as you dig it out of Apple's awesome packaging you'll realize that you need some new kind of package to put it into - something to protect the laptop as well as carry any cables and other extras, plus all of your other gadgets, and pens, and paper, and whatever you find yourself carrying around. For my freelance work I tend to try to carry anything I might need in a meeting or while working in the coffee shop so that I won't be stuck when I really need to get something done. I recently received a messenger bag from Mac-Case called, appropriately enough, the Mac-Case Messenger, and it is definitely meeting my needs for a mobile-office-in-a-bag.

When I set out to find the right bag for me it was important for it to do have a few particular features: 1) some sort of iPod integration, since I can't leave home without one. 2) a sleeve that would protect my MacBook. 3) Ample organization pockets so that I would have places for things like a digital camera, my power adapter, other cables, flat-files, CD-Rs, a small notebook, and a place to put a bottle of water and 4) handles and straps that make the bag easy to carry and move around. Finding a bag that provides all of these features was a bigger job than I expected, especially if you are looking for something that is Mac-specific in terms of the sleeve sizes, iPod-specific pocket, etc.

The Mac-Case Messenger meets many of these desires head-on, and leaves a couple of them lacking. A few of the features that drew me to the Mac-Case bag right away were the provided MacCase Sleeve and the iPod pocket with headphone passthrough. I was also curious to see how the dayglo green BrightSight interior would work to make the bag easier to navigate on the inside.

The MacCase Sleeve is perfectly fitted for my 13" MacBook, keeps it snuggly protected, shows the sweet Apple logo through the small logo-window on the front of the bag, and fits perfectly into the "sleeve-sleeve" sewn into the inside of the bag that keeps the MacBook held safely against the padded back side of the bag, so that as I swing the bag around like a madman trying to get in and out of my car, the laptop isn't swinging around wildly inside the bag, and when it does bang into something, the Mac is secured against every piece of padding available. This is the highlight of the Mac-Case bag in my opinion - top-quality Apple specific care of your laptop.

The built-in iPod integrated pocket is also a bonus, as it allows quick and easy access to the iPod (The pocket is on the outside of the bag) and easy access to the music in the iPod via a small hole in the pocket that allows your headphone cable to pass through. The BrightSight interior of the bag is equally impressive - the dayglo acts a reflector and sends light into all corners of the interior of the bag, so that you can clearly see the cracker that you dropped into it.

The Mac-Case Messenger's pockets are not as helpful as I had hoped. There are a number of pockets under the flap of the bag, only one of those actually zipperable, and one large pocket on the flap of the bag. This did not satisfy my hope for pockets for cables, digital camera, power adapter, CD-Rs and flat-files - but maybe I should take the hint and think about carrying less in my laptop bag. As I tried to include all of that junk into the bag, I resorted to placing all of my cables into a large zippable plastic bag and storing those inside the inner zippered pocket along with a couple of other odds and ends. I did not have room in the Mac-Case pockets for either my power adapter or my digital camera.

I was also surprised to see that the zippered pockets are just barely big enough to hold a letter size magazine, and not quite tall enough for a letter size file folder with a tab on top, so carrying flat files for me has to happen on the interior of the bag, not inside any of the individual pockets. With that said, once I did get everything tucked away into the pockets that were there, I was left with the ample amount of storage space inside the bag, which give plenty of room to carry flat files, power adapters, cameras, books and magazines, and even a small dog if you have one to get rid of.

My gripe with the Mac-Case Messenger is the lack of a handle on the top of the bag. The only thing on the outside of the closed bag to get a grip on is the shoulder strap. The strap is well padded and easily adjustable, but for everyday use in my case it is extended to a fairly long length. This works great when the bag is over my shoulder, but when I need to pick it up and put it into my car, or take it out of the car, the lack of a small handle on top of the bag leaves me grasping for a handhold where there isn't one. I suppose since it is called a "messenger" bag - as in bicycle messenger - then I shouldn't gripe about problems getting it in and out of the car, but it seems that most of Mac-Case's products do include a sturdy top-of-the-bag handle, and adding one of those to the messenger bag would make it more functional for my use.

All in all the Mac-Case Messenger is well worth the money, well constructed, well thought out, and nicely designed to integrate with mac-specifics like your MacBook and your iPod. I would recommend it, especially if they add a top-handle down the road. If you do purchase one, you might also want to buy one of their Mac-Case Power Pouches so that you have a place to put the cables that I'm carrying around in a ziploc bag. If you're in the market for a bag and considering the Mac-Case Messenger, let me know and you can take a look at mine to help you decide.

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3 comments:

Jill said...

Wow. Are you gunnin' for a job at cnet.com or something?

Emilea said...

I saw that you mentioned that it doesn't have a handle (which would kinna aggravate me too)..but the shoulder strap...is it highly adjustable? Do you think you could adjust it to make it fairly short-like a handle almost?

William said...

You could shorten it quite a bit - but it still wouldn't make much of a handle - I end up just grabbing it by the edge of the flap and slinging it into the car or wherever with that.