Question about the Urethane used
As far as I was aware, TB changed from the clear urethane to the slightly cloudy and non-sticky version a while ago.
Last week I received my new Swift in Cork (as it has been sold out for a while this is a newly made bag, not old stock) and the urethane used in it is the clear version! When did TB change back to the clear urethane? And why?
Or is it product specific... some products have the clear version and some the cloudy?
Clear urethane changed again in 2011
@MrsT You're referring to the blog post of April 2010 that announced the switch to the slightly cloudy and non-sticky version of the urethane used for clear pouches and the clear pockets in the Swift and Little Swift. They switched to a less cloudy version of urethane the next year (2011), in response to some feedback from users who found the new urethane too cloudy. This was meant to be clearer, still less sticky, and thinner/more flexible than the original urethane that was used in the earlier models of the Swift (2007—mid-2010), and related products, such as the clear organizer pouches, clear organizer wallets, clear quarter packing cube, and 3d clear organizer cube.
Of course, this refers to the date of production, so when I ordered one of the remaining Swifts in Indigo/Black ballistic nylon before the production of newIndigo ballistic nylon bags stopped, the bag arrived with the slightly cloudy urethane pockets.
I'll list a few links to relevant forum discussion:
The first link shows a July 2010 post with a comparison picture of a pouch with the slightly cloudy urethane adopted in mid-2010 with the earlier, clearer urethane. Read the other posts in the thread for impressions by Shiva and others on the slightly cloudy urethane. The second link from 2011 is the discussion thread about the pen/pencil organizer pouch, but has a number of comments about the clear option for pouches and comments about the slightly cloudy vs new clearer urethane that is currently in use. Read doryame's comments with her opinions on the two, as well as other posts that comment on the material. (There are some other comments about urethane stickiness and dealing with it in posts elsewhere about using the large organizer pouches for papers.). The last link is to an early 2012 blog post referring to the Gadgeteer's review of the clear organizer wallet. If you follow the link to the referenced article, you can check the additional pictures of items behind the clear window as another reference point for judging the clearness of the current urethane (used in your Swift).
Keeping track of product design changes
It's hard to keep track of all the smaller product changes since the details don't always get announced. For example, the length of the cord pulls changed from 3" to 4" in response to earlier discussions about noisy zippers on the Aeronaut and Tri-Star. The new zipper pull cords let you thread the cord through the bottom hole of the metal zipper pull, as displayed in Walker's post, for even more noise reduction. I have some of both the older and newer cord pulls, so I'm going to use the short cords on smaller, size 8 YKK zippers on the front pocket of my Cadet (where noise is not a problem, but where it's not always easy to pull the zipper around the square corners of the 13"/15" Cadet's front pocket -- and I don't want the shape of this pocket changed, because I can fit in rectangular A4 file boxes if I want to with the current design).
Dyneema was introduced as lining material for the Aeronaut. When they started using it in the packing cubes, I noticed that there were successive, small changes to the texturing of the material, first to make the second side less sticky, and then also introducing the faint, diagonal, cross-hatching to the fabric. The legendary Sapphire dyneema didn't have all these features, since it was a short run product.
The newer Synapses are using the material in the Ultrasuede® iPhone pocket of the Cadet for the lined, side pocket (currently, views d and f in the Synapse product page. It feels a bit thicker and more durable, and the color is more neutral than the cayenne Ultrasuede® they were using before for these pockets. But, the tactile feel of the cayenne Ultrasuede® was wonderful, and the color is gorgeous, even if it didn't match all bag colors equally well. And I personally liked the way that the cayenne Ultrasuede® ran all the way up the side of the pocket (as in the current view f), whereas now this is regular dyneema. Also, I don't know whether it's just a trick of viewing, but the seam of the pocket runs at a slight diagonal, sloping down towards the opening, in both my original Synapse from the original product release, and in my recent order, so I don't know what is currently in use. The Ultrasuede® on both sides makes this pocket easier to use for glasses, while the Dyneema on one side makes it easier to slide in an iPhone, such as displayed in the view f pocket.
As far as the urethane, I prefer the older (mid-2010 through mid-2011) slightly cloudy urethane for the pockets of Swift, Little Swift, and the clear organizer wallets, and also like it's tactile sensation, but think that the new urethane is better for the 3D Clear Organizing cubes, Clear Quarter Packing cubes, and clear organizer pouches. I really like the tactile sensation of the clear organizer wallet in Cork with the older urethane (even more than the version of the wallet with Cacao Ultrasuede® that you can no longer get).
I hope that Tom Bihn does more with Ultrasuede® and Cork. The main advantage of the present Kindle and Nook pouches in cork over using the medium organizer pouches in cork is that the cork is on both sides of the pouch. I think the Cork Breve for the iPad didn't get much attention because of its late and unheralded arrival (e.g., a few months after I bought one in Cardinal Dyneema). And, I just noticed that the Breve link seems to have disappeared from the product pages -- is this permanent, or simply waiting for the new ballistic nylon stock to come in?
OK, /rambling mode off. I hope you like your Swift in Cork!