Right after the hectic days of Christmas die down and the New Year comes, tech bloggers, journalists, press and any other interested geeks start gathering their toys and packing a bag to head off to Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). I have a stash of travel gear tucked away, so when I start packing for any conference it's never too much of a chore. My cables are tucked away in my Skooba Cable Stable, all my devices (phones, tablets, iPod) are in one drawer for easy access and my "conference bag" is pre-stocked with my Moleskine, some pens, business cards, power cords and my retractable USB cables so I never have to worry about forgetting them. Now typically I just toss my gear in my bag and I'm ready to roll -- but this year I had a slight change of plans before heading off to Sin City.
Not two days before leaving for CES I had a visit from UPS who dropped off a larger than normal box for me. Upon opening I saw a backpack inside. I immediately checked my Amazon history (I order a lot of stuff and sometimes forget what's coming) and noticed nothing unusual. As I pulled the contents, a quick note let me know that I was now the proud owner of a Powerbag and was welcome to stop by the booth at CES to pick up my battery. Intrigued and excited (and somewhat disappointed that I had no battery) I hopped over to mypowerbag.com to check out the details on my new toy bag. Keep reading for my expierence and real life use of the Powerbag Business Class Pack.
The Powerbag Business Class Pack looks pretty much like your standard backpack. Black all around, a few straps here and some pockets there. Once you pop a zipper open however, you'll notice that it's far from your average backpack. The specs/features on the Powerbag Business Class Pack are pretty sweet off the bat: a removable 6000mAh battery (which I would have to pick up), one-touch battery level indicator and power button, water-resistant AC adapter charging port and "checkpoint friendly" design. The bag itself measures 12"x8"x18" which is a pretty good size for carting around your goods. You can fit up to a 15" laptop in the dedicated compartment and there are various pockets throughout for fitting in tablets, phones, notebooks or whatever you need.
Inside you'll find a battery/power pack nestled in the bottom of the bag. It sits away in its own little space, so it's easy to ignore once you have your battery in. The battery itself gets charged via the included AC adapter. Plug it in to the nicely covered port on the bottom of the bag, and the front LEDs illuminate to let you know you've got some juice. I'm not totally sure on the actual time to fully charge the battery, but if you're like me you'll leave it plugged in overnight before you need it.
Now the fun part. In the front pocket of the PowerBag you'll find what I like to call "tech central". Here is where all of your devices will sit and you'll have access to the cables from your bag's battery. There is a standard iPhone 30-pin cable, microUSB cable and miniUSB cable. You also have the option to plug in an additional USB cable straight to the battery box, giving you the ability to charge up to four devices at once. Awesome sauce.
Simply plug in your device(s), hit the power button on the bag and you're up and running. The front LED will tell you how much power you have so you never have to worry. Tech central has two lined pockets that nicely fit pretty much any small portable electronic device that you will be carting around.
The next pocket in the bag is what the power supply calls home and it also sports a zippered mesh pocket as well as a lined pocket for your tablet(s) or books/magazines. Here is where I ran an additional microUSB cable just because I wanted to. I don't have a use for it at the moment, but I like knowing it's there in case I need it.
Next in line is a very cool pouch/pocket that the folks at PowerBag call a sunglass pocket, but I call a super awesome schwag pocket. Here is where I keep all my retractable USB cables, thumb drives and other little stuff I need quick access to.
The main compartment of the bag is your typical laptop bag fare - pen holders, a small pocket for business cards and two larger pockets for notebooks or other items. This compartment also houses the power cables for my Mac and any other items I don't have a better place for.
Last but not least is the lay-flat laptop compartment. Lined for your protection, it fits up to a 15" laptop. The fun part of this compartment is that it lays totally flat from the rest of the bag so you don't have to remove your computer for airport security. Like a dummy I still take mine out, but if you're not as weird as I am you'll be fine just laying the entire bag on the belt.
I never had an issue with killing the battery in my Powerbag, but depending on your needs you may want to opt for the larger 9000mAh battery. I used the bag to charge my spare batteries during the days on the show floor at CES and juice up my iPhone a time or two. If you have more devices you'll obviously kill the battery faster, but if you're selective about what you charge when, you should be able to manage with the 6000mAh battery.
The bag itself looks sweet too. Its plain black design matches nearly every other bag I've ever owned, and the padded shoulder straps never gave me an issue. There is also a nifty water bottle pocket on the side that came in more handy than I would have expected (yes, just for water).
Would I recommend a Powerbag? Of course. I think it's a great combo for any tech geek. You have cables and a battery nicely tucked away and ready when you need them. There are pockets galore for stashing all your devices while they charge. The bag itself is great - it's roomy enough for everyday gear, doesn't scream "I'm a Powerbag" and it's totally comfy to wear. The lay-flat design is a great feature, but in most cases you can probably get by without it.
Should you run out and buy one? Well that's up to you. I personally would have no problem spending the money on one of these bags (the retail price of the Powerbag Business Class Pack is $179.99) but that's certainly a lot of money for a backpack. You can most definitely get by with a standard bag (my old Targus bag was $49.99) and an inexpensive external battery like this one from New Trent, and you're still saving yourself $80. While it won't be as pretty or easy to charge multiple devices as a PowerBag, it still gets the job done.
So overall I say yes to the PowerBag. If you're on the go constantly (or even semi-constantly) and need to keep more than once device charged, this bag is awesome. Just remember to charge it at night (I've worked it into my routine) and you'll never have to worry about dead devices on the go.
Business Class Pack
If you're on the go constantly and need to keep more than one device charged, there is none better than Powerbag. Its built in battery will let you charge nearly any device while you're out and about.
The Powerbag is a laptop bag and external battery in a nice package. In most cases you can achieve the same while spending less if you just get creative.
I personally love my Powerbag, but it's not right for everyone. If you have the means and will put it to good use, then I say go for it. If you're more of a "weekender" or will only use it occasionally, I think you can definitely get by without it.
Contest: We have 3 Powerbag Backpacks to give away. To enter to win, just leave a single comment on this post. Contest ends this Sunday at midnight PST. The bag comes in red and please note it's a different model than the one reviewed here.
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