A couple of years ago I got over-excited about the possibility of Kickstarter, and I sponsored several hardware devices. What I discovered is that Kickstarting hardware devices is a great way to get a continual stream of excuses delivered to your mailbox, but not so great at getting actual hardware. But a few weeks ago one of the first ones I kickstarted finally delivered a product. It’s the Phorce Pro laptop bag.
The selling point of the bag was that it contains a battery back to keep your devices charged up as you travel. Inside the bag is this bar with three USB ports, and a special port that connects to a transformer and with a special cable that transformer supposedly charges your laptop (and it comes with adapters for a metric buttload of different laptops, although you have to order a MacBook Pro adapter from a third party). There are cable ports to run cables from the USB ports into the special pockets for your phone and tablet, although there doesn’t appear to be a cable port for the laptop pocket.
The pockets for the phone and tablet are inside the main pocket of the bag, and have separate horizontal and vertical zippers so you can access the device either way (although I suspect most people will use the top zipper not the side zipper). Each pocket also has a nice little label inside the pocket. The laptop pocket has an outside zipper, just one which wraps around the corner. It also has the nice little label. The outside zippers have big overlaps (is there a technical term for those?) so that when the zippers are closed you don’t actually see the zip part, only the tab. I guess is to keep casual precipitation out (like a light rain while running from the terminal to the taxi). There is another outside zipped pocket, and the main pocket has another zipper with an accordion panel to make it bigger.
The bag has straps and hidden velcroed pockets so you can transform it from briefcase to messenger bag to backpack. My other laptop bag is a Timbuk2, and it has the same ability, and like the Timbuk2, I suspect I’ll just leave it with the briefcase handles and messenger bag straps out and never use the backpack straps. The Phorce straps and hardware look robust and well made, as well as attractive.
Ok, after enthusing about how beautiful and well made this bag is, I should probably talk about the downsides:
- The laptop charger on mine doesn’t work. Phorce say they’re sending me a replacement. It’s a new product, so I imagine it’s just teething problems.
- They tell me that you can’t use the laptop charger while the bag is plugged into the wall. That’s too bad, because I was hoping I could leave the actual laptop charger at home and just use the bag.
- The “Phorce Loss Prevention” feature that they talk about on their web site only works if you have the Phorce iOS app open. They don’t use proper iOS notifications or background app refresh so that it doesn’t tell you that it’s lost contact with the bag except when you are directly looking at the app. Since I think the time when you’re most likely to walk away from your bag is when you’re distracted by something else, it seems like a useless feature.
But none of those things are show stoppers to me. It’s an awesomely made and beautiful bag, and I can’t wait to use it on my next trip.
I used it on my recent trip, and it was awesome. I plugged my iPhone and iPad into the bag every night, and on the last day when I found myself without access to a plug for 6+ hours I kept everything topped up with the battery pack. And when I got home, I found that they’d sent me a new battery bar that did everything the original one did and the laptop charger worked. Can’t wait to try that out. And even better, they don’t want the other battery bar back.