Crosskase Solar 15: Take the power back (pack)

We sometimes have a little snigger to ourselves when we read about solar gadgets – usually because we look outside the window and see that it’s raining again – but as the sun is shining as I write this, let me introduce you to the Crosskase Solar 15 Backpack.

Crosskase-Solar-

If you’re planning on doing a bit of travelling this summer – or indeed take your gadgets with you when commuting – the backpack might be worth a look.

Imagine if you’re lost 10,000 feet high on a snow-capped mountain and need help but your phone has no battery and your GPS has died. Plug either of them into the Solar 15 and you’ll have the power to make that emergency call or find directions and be safe and sound in no time.

Or for the slightly less-adventurous, how about you’ve mislaid your mates at a festival and the battery’s died on your phone. Plug it into the backpack and you can call them while still enjoying your favourite band.

Looks-wise, the Solar 15 looks like your average laptop-carrying backpack, but on the front of the bag is a 3-Watt solar panel that soaks up natural light and then stores the energy it has grabbed on an internal battery. That battery is capable of charging most handheld devices, such as music players, phones and pocket games consoles.

It takes eight hours to fully charge the battery from solar power, three hours from mains power and four hours from a USB connection. The battery holds enough power to charge most devices twice over.

The makers claim it takes two hours to fully charge devices such as the iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy, iPod nano 6G, BlackBerry Curve and Nokia N95.

In case you’re thinking that a solar backpack is no use in rainy old Blighty, the makers tell us it doesn’t need strong sunlight to work because it also trickle charges in standard daylight or artificial light and, they have thoughtfully added splashproof material and paneling, so it even works in the rain!

Nine adapter fittings include micro USB, mini uSB, Apple, Samsung, Nokia and TomTom – other devices can be connected using the USB 2.0 lead.

The backpack itself is made from 1680D Ballistic Nylon, has a 25-litre capacity, and pockets for holding laptops and iPad/iPod. A rain cover can be pulled out for extra protection.

The backpack costs £139.99 from www.crosskase.com, amazon.co.uk and store.apple.com/uk

Vaude PETros and Rails: Taking your gadgets safely from A to B

We love a good bag here at LG Towers. It’s all well and good being able to curl on an sofa and get your geek on (there’s a chiptune Missy Elliot remix of that floating around I’d wager) but it’s as much fun to take your geek to the streets with all manner of swaddling garb to keep your precious gadgetry safe. Enter Vaude and their serious German engineering credentials.

Vaude-PETros

The Vaude Petros is heavy duty laptop backpack for the serious road warrior with a conscience (the Petros is partly constructed from recycled PET bottles). The 20 litre PETros bag is large enough to fit your 15″ laptop or gym clothes … or both (my how times have changed). There’s a special little padded compartment at the back that should keep laptops safe from minor dents and bumps. There’s also a rain cover tucked away in a hidden compartment at the base of the backpack to stop you from freaking out in a downpour. And my favourite feature? A little dedicated glasses pocket to keep your specs safe.

Vaude-Rails

But what if you want to travel further afield? Well the Vaude Rails 60 has you covered. Not since I saw a suitcase with a scooter built in have I been so impressed with luggage. It’s up there with Rincewind’s travel companion (if you enjoyed that Discworld reference as much as I did then we should hang out). Like the PETros, the Rails 60 has some serious green credentials and is made of at least 90% organic cotton or recycled materials, and colored using the eco-friendly VAUDE ecolour dyeing process. Even better it has secret straps that transform it from a trolley into a backpack. It’s padded on it’s undercarriage so it’s reasonable comfortable to lug around. And the front compartment zips off completely to become a light day bag/hand luggage that you can use around the airport or when strolling through the city.

PETros £85
Rails 60 £190
More info at www.vaude.com

STM Switch and Stash tablet bags

STM are an Australian bag manufacturing company that we have come to know and love over the years – their range of iPad and Laptop bags have been mostly excellent and, whilst they do produce some standard designs, they are also keen to experiment with both form and function, which is something we are keen on. So we were quite pleased to have a little hands-on time with two of their newest bags – the Skinny and the Switch.

stm-switch

The Switch is a classic “best of both worlds” proposition for those of you who can’t decide between a back pack or a shoulder bag. I solved this dilemma by having one of each but the Switch offers a less profligate solution – a laptop bag that can be a backpack or shoulder bag. Like all STM bags, the Switch has a high density padded laptop compartment to keep all your electronic valuables safe and snug. Fitted with both shoulder and backpack straps, there are pockets that allow you to conceal the transition.

Stash

Of course laptops are an old man’s game and all the cool young kids are carting around tablets (or so I’m told). One of the many benefits of tablet computing is the reduced bulk it offers over a traditional laptop and the STM Stash emboides this with it’s snug form and grab-bag-esque qualities. Aside from the main compartment it features a front zippered organiser panel for pens, keys, headphones and such and then a back slip pocket that’s ideal for notes.

For more info on either bag head to stmbags.com.au/

STM jet laptop bag review

Laptops these days are, more often than not, powerful enough to serve as a desktop replacement. For the average consumer, the extra horsepower in a desktop system simply isn’t needed.  And the beautiful thing about a laptop – you can pack it up and take it with you.

STM-jet

However, the outside world is pretty hell bent on destroying your shiny new toy, with all the elements conspiring to scratch, dent or soak it. Which is why a good laptop bag is always a great idea. I grew up with the typical “I’m carrying a laptop please mug me” style satchels, but over time a certain sense of style and utility has slowly crept into the world of computing fashion.

Exhibit A, STM’s jet laptop shoulder bag.  With room for your laptop, iPad, mobile and paperwork, the jet is pretty good at keeping you organised, although hopeless at giving you perspective over how many mobile devices you actually need. Two front zippered pockets hold quick access items such as cords, travel documents and keys, whilst the main front compartment houses an organisational panel. The laptop section suspends your notebook in high-density foam and soft, brushed fleece and the integrated iPad slip pocket is lined in soft, brushed nylex.

The backpack suspension has tuck away waist straps, an adjustable sternum strap, and comfortable air-mesh padding throughout to ensure it is always a comfortable carry. STM sent us a bag to try out (we gave it back!) and it was as advertised – a great way to lug around a 15” laptop. The weight was barely noticeable, the bag was nice and flush with my back making it unobtrusive and I never felt uncomfortable about being out in the open with my 7 year old Powerbook.

The STM jet is available in black and in two sizes to fit most 15” and 17” laptops.

CES 2011: Golla cases and bags for your gadgets

If Santa was good to you this Christmas and bought you a new phone or even iPad it is time to start thinking accessories. So by now you have got to grips with it and you want a new case. When you have something as valuable as the iPad you need something stylish and functional to carry it around. A quality bag or case which does not fall apart on you after 2 weeks can sometimes be hard to find. Golla have cases and bags for iPhones, eReaders, cameras and laptops and they announced their 2011 range at CES 2011. Here are some the best.

Golla

Golla introduce the G-bag in 5 colours with the grey being my favourite with the stylish design. With a magnetic flap, it’s easy to open and close. A G-bag can be used for an iPad or laptop using the padded compartment. The straps can be folded away so they no longer drag on the floor. Golla show their flair for design with the laptop bags as they have a dedicated laptop compartment with velcro fastening to keep it in place. They also come with a screen cloth to keep your laptop clean. There are several more compartments to keep your accessories, keys and wallet. The designs tend to be letters or floral designs on the flap and will suit men and women. A lot of the new designs are in denim as it seems to be the rage, good for a more casual look.

If you a new DSLR camera, then how about camera bag? Golla’s cam bags are padded and two removable walls in the bags to provide extra space when needed. They come in 3 sizes and the large cam bag has extra slots for memory cards, outside pockets for ease and a top handle to carry when your shoulder hurts. The small size is for compact cameras.

The new range of cases for mobile phones has been given an extra pocket which is perfect for storing earphones or loose change. Some of the cases have a carabiner attached which is useful for sporty people as you can clip it to your bag or belt. The new Golla collection will be available from April in Currys and phone retailers.