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Thread: My first few weeks with the Synapse 25. Comments and concerns

  1. #1
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    My first few weeks with the Synapse 25. Comments and concerns

    Hey all,

    So I received my S25 in the first batch of those that went out, and have been using it for a couple weeks now. I thought i'd post up my initial thoughts.

    This is my first bag with Tom Bihn and over all i'me very happy. The quality of the bag seems above exceptional. It just feels well made, and not cheap. It feels like what it costs, if that makes any sense.

    The bag holds everything I needed with ease, though I do think i'm going to need to get some extra accessories to help with my organization a bit. Pro Tip: The included keychain strap is too short. Pony up for the longer ones!

    One of my concerns was accessibility of some items without having to take the bag off, and i'm happy to say that this has worked out well. It DOES take some practice, but it is quite doable to loosen the straps, slip out one arm, and sling the bag forward to access the two side pockets. The trick is to get in the habit of loosening the straps or else you will be struggling. The cool thing here though is loosening the straps is very easy and quick. Just grab the buckle with one hand and lift and gravity does the rest.

    The first few days I found the zippers hard to use, especially one handed. They are getting better, but still tricky in some situations. I'm not sure why this is, but it seems to be more about how the zipper travels along the path. The bottom pocket is the worst offender in this. It has this sort of hump in the middle and is almost impossible to operate with one hand. To be clear they all travel fine if you have a free hand to hold the bag. Its just when you have your hands full and try to open them with just a pull on the zipper that the problem occurs.

    My biggest concern right now is the cache with rails. The first week or so getting my 15" rMBP in was really quite tough. I think now it has started to stretch a bit so it isn't so hard anymore, however getting it back out is still real hard. You essentially need to get one hand on each side and sort of roll the fabric back with your fingers while pulling up on the macbook with your thumbs. Its tough and ackward, and hopefully this will get easier over time.

    My biggest beef though is I am not all that comfortable with how well this cache will protect my macbook. I never owned the previous BrainCells, but from the pictures they look like they give a lot more protection than this cache does. The cache is essentially a thick material sleeve, and thus it seems better for protecting against scratches rather than any impact. Also since the bottom of the cache is no thicker than anywhere else, i'm constantly afraid i'm going to put the backpack down too hard and damage the side of my macbook

    I will say however that the cache sits in there nice and secure. In fact I have gone on jogs with my macbook secured in the bag and had no problems with the cache breaking free, despite being bounced up and down over and over.

    Overall i'd give this bag like an 80% rating based on my requirements and desires. I'm very happy with it, and quirks aside my only concern is how well its going to protect my macbook over time.

  2. #2
    ceb
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    Does the cache actually go all the way down to the bottom of the bag?
    When in trouble, obfuscate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ceb View Post
    Does the cache actually go all the way down to the bottom of the bag?
    Essentially yes. The bag is of course a soft shape, so its hard to define exactly, but if I hold the top of the bag by the top handle, and rest the bag on a table such that it is in a neutral (ie not extended, not crumpled) position, the cache extends so close to the bottom that I can't place my finger between the bottom of the bag and the bottom of the cache.

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    In hindsight i'm starting to think I should have gone with the Smart Alec instead where I could use a heavy duty braincell rather the flimsier cache. I'm not sure if the height would still be an issue, but at least it would be better protected if the bottom of the bag hits hard.

    Part of it too is I just bought this Macbook, completely top of the line. Cost me nearly $4,000 so i'm just TERRIFIED of it getting damaged in any way

  5. #5
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    You must have the beautiful new retina laptop! I've seen one, they're great.
    You can use any cover for the Macbook, not just a Tom Bihn branded one. I don't think it has to be attached to the backpack to be protective. I have the Level8 one for mine (which is a different model). They're available at the Apple stores.

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    You should not be worried about the Cache, it is very protective and lightweight. (I have the Cache ancestor for one of my iBooks and a Cache for my netbook)

    You have heard on the video that Tom Bihn does intensive testing of all its product and the Cache was no different.


    The fear of messing up a brand new Mac is always there.

    It has more chances of being damaged at your office (beverages too close, stuff bumping into it, cord caught on something) or at home (children and teens wanting to play with the new toy, pets knocking it over) or even worse, in coffee shops, where beverages, cramped space and crowd cause a triple threat.

  7. #7
    ceb
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwvanderbe View Post
    In hindsight i'm starting to think I should have gone with the Smart Alec instead where I could use a heavy duty braincell rather the flimsier cache. I'm not sure if the height would still be an issue, but at least it would be better protected if the bottom of the bag hits hard.

    Part of it too is I just bought this Macbook, completely top of the line. Cost me nearly $4,000 so i'm just TERRIFIED of it getting damaged in any way
    Simple solution.

    Most craft and fabric stores sell various sorts of foam padding. buy a piece and cut to shape to fit the bottom of your Synapse. The cache will rest on that and cushion the base of the computer should you drop the bag. The cache and Synapse will adequately protect your new computer from "normal" day to day activities - putting it down, bumping into doorframes or falling over.

    In addition, a vertical brain cell should fit - just not attached to the rails, but I'd suspect that the cache in the synapse will do quite nicely.
    When in trouble, obfuscate.

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    hi jwvanderbe!

    i carry my 15" retina macbook pro inside of the cache with rails, carried in the synapse 25 everyday to work.

    indeed, the cache with rails fits like a glove on my laptop. the way i usually remove the laptop from the cache is to slide the cache up the rails, hold the bottom of the cache, and slide the laptop out.

    no doubt, the brain cell provides an unparalleled level of protection for your laptop. to me, the choice of the cache and the brain cell is a trade off between protection, and size/weight. it isn't that one is right, and one is wrong - it's what's right for your particular needs, what you feel comfortable with.

    going to work in the car or in the bus, i feel comfortable carrying my laptop in a cache in a backpack - whether it is the synapse 25, or another backpack.

    last summer, when i was riding my bike to work, i opted to use the brain cell. the chances of something happening to my laptop in a bike crash were greater, so the brain cell provided me with greater comfort for that situation.

    i haven't tried it, but i think you should be able to carry the brain cell for the 15" retina macbook pro inside of the synapse 25. darcy, can you confirm?

    while you won't have a set of annex clips to which you can attach the brain cell, you will still have the added protection afforded by the brain cell.

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    Can't a system of 1" Gate Keeper Straps be rigged inside the Synapses using the Cache with Rails apparatus as seen in the "iPad and 15" MacBook Pro Retina in Caches with Rails" picture to secure Annex Clips for the smallest Brain Cell?


    The Horizontal Gate Keeper Straps would be secured to the vertical straps of the Cache with Rails system and would hold the Annex Clips.

    This would provide nervous laptop owners with the ability to use a Brain Cell, yet still leave lightweight EDC users the possibility to only use the Cache.


    In families, when Synapse can be passed down or borrowed for a school season, a calm student can use the Cache while school and parents would be more comfortable if the tomboys of the family had a Brain Cell to withstand the rigors of bike riding or field exploration after school.

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    Ironically I don't tend to use the "rails" feature in general practice just because you need a LOT of space to lay the bag down, then extend the cache out. Oy vey! I just put the bag on the ground, standing up, and pull the laptop out with the cache staying inside the bag. It isn't a HUGE deal to get out, especially as I get better at it, but it is a little tricky due to how tight it fit.

    The idea of using a BrainCell is interesting. I'll have to research that a bit more. I would have gone with a BrainCell in a heartbeat had it been offered as a supported option on the S25. I'm all for trading some extra weight for better protection. I don't even notice the weight of the laptop at all as it is.

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    Could be easier to remove laptop from cacche

    Quote Originally Posted by jwvanderbe View Post
    It isn't a HUGE deal to get out, especially as I get better at it, but it is a little tricky due to how tight it fit.
    With Synaps 25 and cache on rails, it is awkward to remove MB Air. A means to clip the cache to the bottom of the bag would help. (E.g. O ring on cache and o ring in bottom of Synapse. Simple, and should do the trick. O ring + starp on cache bottom would also provide a grab handle to more easily remove cache when not in Synapse.

    My only other synapse complaint is the absence of two O rings to replace the 2 that are covered by the cache when it is mounted in the against-the-back position. There should be 2 more o rings in the now-exposed "front" position.

    Julian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Julian View Post
    With Synaps 25 and cache on rails, it is awkward to remove MB Air. A means to clip the cache to the bottom of the bag would help. (E.g. O ring on cache and o ring in bottom of Synapse. Simple, and should do the trick. O ring + starp on cache bottom would also provide a grab handle to more easily remove cache when not in Synapse.

    My only other synapse complaint is the absence of two O rings to replace the 2 that are covered by the cache when it is mounted in the against-the-back position. There should be 2 more o rings in the now-exposed "front" position.

    Julian
    Great ideas Julian. The retaining strap to keep the cache in would be great for day to day use and make it a lot easier to pull the laptop out. I STILL struggle with this, because frankly in day to day use I do NOT want the cache to slide out as its awkward. The trick with a retainer though is it would have to be easy to unhook for when you DO want the thing to slide out.

    I 110% agree with the o-rings as well. I recently got two of the big paper sized organizers from TB and found I have no place to strap them into the main compartment, so they just bounce around loosely and I hate that


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