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  • 1 Post By tpnl
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Thread: What fits my laptop?

  1. #1
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    What fits my laptop?

    I have been looking for a new laptop/briefcase bag. I currently use a backpack which I don't much like. I have a Lenovo W530 with an extended battery. I have used the size finder on the site, which doesn't have the W530 listed, but it has the W520, which is the same size. I have an extended battery, and I don't know if the size finder takes this into account?

    The size finder tells me I would need a Size 1 (Cache or Brain cell). However, these only fit into the Empire builder (which I would buy now but they are sold out until June) and the super ego (which just looks way too big).

    Would any of the medium sized bags fit my laptop (without the insert, I guess, though I would prefer the hard-sided protection of the Brain Cell..

    Also is the Empire Builder only available in black/steel? Those are the only 2 in the pull-down menu and are both backordered. Are they ever available with a light colored interior (I expect this would make things much easier to see/find inside)?

    Sorry for all the newbie questions. I tried searching for prior posts on some of these questions, but the Captcha thing was taking forever.

  2. #2
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum

    I have a T510 with extended battery (same size as your W530) and I put it in a semi-hard sleeve and into my Zephyr or Ego (smaller versions of the Empire Builder and Super Ego respectively) with no problem. The sleeve I use is the Booq Vyper 17” case with dimensions 16” x 11”. Other sleeves I have used are a Zeroshock III for a 15.6” laptops and a G-Form sleeve for 17” MBP (both 16” x 12”). Given this, I believe any sleeve / case with max dimensions of 16” x 12” would fit the Zephyr or Ego.

    Because of the thick padding on the 4 sides and bottom of the Zephyr, I think my laptop in the semi-hard sleeve is more than well protected. For the Ego, there is thick padding on both the back and bottom. I have actually test dropped an old laptop with the Booq sleeve in the Zephyr and Ego from 3 feet (desk height) on each side and on the edges with no damage.

    I do not have a Size 1 Horizontal Brain Cell but I have an old Brenthaven insert that is the same size and similar hard-sided construction. It does not fit the Zephyr or Ego without forcing it (as in I really need to stretch the zippers to force it to clear the insert edges)

    I have tried a Size 4z Horizontal Brain Cell and it does fit in the Zephyr and Ego. It does fit the laptop tightly (adjust the sling for max extension) but the hard sides are not long enough by about 1/8” on each side. Because the two ends of the Brain Cell are thick foam padding, it stretches to accommodate the laptop but you lose the hard sided protection at the ends. However, even given this, I think it still provides excellent protection as it is really the sling feature that you want and the hard sides are only applicable to the bottom and 2 sides with thick foam padding on the edges and top.

    I use the Zephyr as my favorite EDC professional work bag and I have to say I am always impressed at how much I can put in it. My goal was to have a bag that I could put everything inside – laptop, files, lunch, breakfast, vacuum mug, compact umbrella, bluetooth speaker, compact camera, etc. The Zephyr swallows it all up. It allows me to carry everything in a small, svelte package.

    Concerning your question about the Empire Builder and the interior colors, I did see it coming with a Wasabi interior in the past. However, I am not sure if there are any plans to continue this in the future. If you are looking for one now, you might try eBay. Also, call TB customer support to see if they have any plans.

    As for other briefcases that I do not have but have researched:

    Pilot - I do not feel it would fit as even a 15”MBP just fits in.
    Cadet (15” Version) – I believe it would fit in a sleeve but not with the Size 1 Brain Cell
    Founder’s Briefcase – I looks like it would fit with a sleeve but not the Size 1 Brain Cell
    ID – Not sure

    Perhaps other forum members will be able to speak to those briefcases.

    If you are looking for a backpack, I also have experience with your size laptop in a Synapse 25, Smart Alec and Brain Bag using Vertical Brain Cells.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 04-28-2014 at 01:07 AM.
    Zephyr/SA/BB/Co-Pilot (Black/Black/Steel), S25/WF/TS/A45/Pilot/Cadet (Black/Iberian), DLBP (French Blue), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel/Steel), Vertical & Horizontal Brain Cells, Vertical and Horizontal FS, Camera I/O, PCBP/PCSB/TT (400d Nordic), SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket (Black), Tall YSS (Iberian)

  3. #3
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    The fit guide specifically says it doesn't include extended batteries but has this note you may have missed:

    Note: The Laptop Bag Fit Guide recommendations are based on laptops that don't have extended batteries. If your laptop has a built-in or add-on extended battery, please email us at fit@tombihn.com or call us at 1-800-729-9607. Provide us with the dimensions of your laptop with the extended battery and we will personally help you select the best size laptop bag for your laptop.

  4. #4
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by tpnl View Post
    Welcome to the forum

    I have a T510 with extended battery (same size as your W530) and I put it in a semi-hard sleeve and into my Zephyr or Ego (smaller versions of the Empire Builder and Super Ego respectively) with no problem. The sleeve I use is the Booq Vyper 17” case with dimensions 16” x 11”. Other sleeves I have used are a Zeroshock III for a 15.6” laptops and a G-Form sleeve for 17” MBP (both 16” x 12”). Given this, I believe any sleeve / case with max dimensions of 16” x 12” would fit the Zephyr or Ego.

    Because of the thick padding on the 4 sides and bottom of the Zephyr, I think my laptop in the semi-hard sleeve is more than well protected. For the Ego, there is thick padding on both the back and bottom. I have actually test dropped an old laptop with the Booq sleeve in the Zephyr and Ego from 3 feet (desk height) on each side and on the edges with no damage.

    I do not have a Size 1 Horizontal Brain Cell but I have an old Brenthaven insert that is the same size and similar hard-sided construction. It does not fit the Zephyr or Ego without forcing it (as in I really need to stretch the zippers to force it to clear the insert edges)

    I have tried a Size 4z Horizontal Brain Cell and it does fit in the Zephyr and Ego. It does fit the laptop tightly (adjust the sling for max extension) but the hard sides are not long enough by about 1/8” on each side. Because the two ends of the Brain Cell are thick foam padding, it stretches to accommodate the laptop but you lose the hard sided protection at the ends. However, even given this, I think it still provides excellent protection as it is really the sling feature that you want and the hard sides are only applicable to the bottom and 2 sides with thick foam padding on the edges and top.

    I use the Zephyr as my favorite EDC professional work bag and I have to say I am always impressed at how much I can put in it. My goal was to have a bag that I could put everything inside – laptop, files, lunch, breakfast, vacuum mug, compact umbrella, bluetooth speaker, compact camera, etc. The Zephyr swallows it all up. It allows me to carry everything in a small, svelte package.

    Concerning your question about the Empire Builder and the interior colors, I did see it coming with a Wasabi interior in the past. However, I am not sure if there are any plans to continue this in the future. If you are looking for one now, you might try eBay. Also, call TB customer support to see if they have any plans.

    As for other briefcases that I do not have but have researched:

    Pilot - I do not feel it would fit as even a 15”MBP just fits in.
    Cadet (15” Version) – I believe it would fit in a sleeve but not with the Size 1 Brain Cell
    Founder’s Briefcase – I looks like it would fit with a sleeve but not the Size 1 Brain Cell
    ID – Not sure

    Perhaps other forum members will be able to speak to those briefcases.

    If you are looking for a backpack, I also have experience with your size laptop in a Synapse 25, Smart Alec and Brain Bag using Vertical Brain Cells.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    Thank you! This is exactly the kind of info I was looking for!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leena View Post
    The fit guide specifically says it doesn't include extended batteries but has this note you may have missed:

    Note: The Laptop Bag Fit Guide recommendations are based on laptops that don't have extended batteries. If your laptop has a built-in or add-on extended battery, please email us at fit@tombihn.com or call us at 1-800-729-9607. Provide us with the dimensions of your laptop with the extended battery and we will personally help you select the best size laptop bag for your laptop.
    You are right, I had completely missed that note. It's the extended battery that makes it really annoying to carry this particular laptop in a bookbag; it catches as I try to pull the laptop out. Many times I have pulled the laptop out about 5 inches and then it catches on the battery, slips from my fingers, and slams back down into the bag. Very frustrating.

    Also, in general, I was looking for something a little more professional looking, which is why I excluded backpacks from my search.

  6. #6
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    I almost just went an bought a Zephyr based on tpnl's advice above, but I see it's only available in black with a grey interior. I guess I really want a bright colored interior. I know some say that it gets dirty (pen marks, etc) but I really feel like it would make things easier to find without having to rely on a flashlight or one of those Guardian lights.

  7. #7
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    somenewguy

    On March 26th, tangfj posted that he/she had a Black/Wasabi Empire Builder for swap. Perhaps you can send him a personal message and arrange something. See the link below and scroll down to tangfj's post.

    http://www.tombihn.com/forums/just-r...ag-swap-4.html

    Also, email TB Customer Service and ask for what their plans are for the briefcase interior colors.

    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    Zephyr/SA/BB/Co-Pilot (Black/Black/Steel), S25/WF/TS/A45/Pilot/Cadet (Black/Iberian), DLBP (French Blue), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel/Steel), Vertical & Horizontal Brain Cells, Vertical and Horizontal FS, Camera I/O, PCBP/PCSB/TT (400d Nordic), SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket (Black), Tall YSS (Iberian)

  8. #8
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    @somenewguy Take a look at the discussion in the thread: Need to fit a Lenovo W530 into a Cadet

    I know the Lenovo W520 with extended life battery attached fits into the Cadet fairly well without use of a cache, but I don't have this laptop myself. I ordered that model for a colleague, and I was able to quickly check this in my Cadet. I'd guess that it would also fit into the Founder's Briefcase. The bags I'd be inclined to try are the Zephyr and the 15/13 Cadet, and the travel combination I think would work is with the Cadet + Tri-Star similar to UK-Limey's arrangement for a smaller laptop, but I would probably explore a reinforcing caches -- maybe one of the Thinkpad-specific ones if the caches with rails did not provide a good fit.

    Some time ago, we went through this discussion for the Lenovo T410 (smaller and without the extended battery), and @Magic Tiki got the Zephyr. (There were specific requests about what else he wanted to carry, and he also wanted to have the bag hold a water bottle.)

    @imperator, who posted the original questions for the W530 in the thread that I linked at the top, ended up getting a Western Flyer to do dual duty for one-bag travel and hold his laptop. The priority shifted from finding a bag optimized for fitting his laptop, and so far he has been carrying his laptop without special protection in the back compartment of the Western Flyer.
    When I queried:
    Quote Originally Posted by moriond View Post
    And here I thought you were going to order a Cadet for your Lenovo W530!
    He replied:
    Quote Originally Posted by imperator View Post
    Pursuit of a more multipurpose one-bag was what first directed me to Tom Bihn, most of my waffling had to do with returning to that inspiration. The cadet would be better replacement of my current bag, but I think the Western Flyer would satisfy about 80% of all my travel needs, and the perceived "bulk" I was afraid of for EDC wasn't so problematic after I measured some of my old briefcases. The top-to-bottom measurement of the WF is the same as the bag I use for the W530 now, so I'm willing to try it (it's a much smaller bag, too). The Steel/Iberian had me sold!
    His subsequent posts showed how he was using the Western Flyer:


    Note that the second thread does not show the W530 at all, since the one-bagging priority meant that he had left that laptop behind in favor of a tablet.

    Maybe someone who owns a W530 and carries it with the extended life battery can comment in more detail?

    HTH. moriond

  9. #9
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    Thank you! I will read through the links moriond has provided, and I have sent a PM to tangfj.

    I assume the Empire Builder has the foam at the bottom that tpnl mentioned was on the Zephyr? If so, the Empire builder might do the trick for me. I am not sure how much I liked the idea of opening my bag several times daily just to have to then open a 2nd laptop case inside the first bag anyway.

  10. #10
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    You are correct in that the Empire Builder has the same construction - thick protective closed cell foam on all 4 sides and the bottom. This is one of the main reasons I like the Empire Builder / Zephyr family. Oh - and did I mention how comfortable the handles were?

    As for openning a second case, I do not find a difference between opening up the Brain Cell Aplix/Velcro like flaps and unzipping part of a sleeve case in the bag to get to my laptop - IMHO, I would not be too concerned about the extra opening step. However, it is an extra step compared to putting just the laptop in.

    Enjoy - I originally was attracted to TB products because of the laptop protection safety net of the Brain Cell and all the supporting products that only enhance this protection. The TBAS then set in ....

    Cheers!
    Last edited by tpnl; 04-28-2014 at 11:40 AM.
    Zephyr/SA/BB/Co-Pilot (Black/Black/Steel), S25/WF/TS/A45/Pilot/Cadet (Black/Iberian), DLBP (French Blue), Ego (Black/Black/Steel with Indigo Stripe), CPF (Black/Indigo/Steel), EB (Black/Steel/Steel), Vertical & Horizontal Brain Cells, Vertical and Horizontal FS, Camera I/O, PCBP/PCSB/TT (400d Nordic), SE (Black/Iberian), Lead's Pocket (Black), Tall YSS (Iberian)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by somenewguy View Post
    Thank you! I will read through the links moriond has provided, and I have sent a PM to tangfj.

    I assume the Empire Builder has the foam at the bottom that tpnl mentioned was on the Zephyr? If so, the Empire builder might do the trick for me. I am not sure how much I liked the idea of opening my bag several times daily just to have to then open a 2nd laptop case inside the first bag anyway.
    Except for the fact that I'm familiar with the W520 with extended life battery and tried it in the Cadet, I'd say that you'll probably find @tpnl's comments/criteria more helpful to you. I've owned the Empire Builder, but found that bag too large/heavy for me to comfortably carry, mainly because I had to hold this bag too far out from my side relative to my center of mass. This was before the Zephyr was designed as a smaller and lighter version. I know there are other women on the forum my height (5'4") who are happy using the Zephyr. There are some old posts on the forum that do good comparisons between the Zephyr and the Empire Builder. The first and second posts by Zasky show comparison photos of the Empire Builder and the Zephyr.

    HTH. moriond

  12. #12
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    A few more comments: The ID bag will accept a Brain Cell, but looks more casual with its messenger style, If you are looking for a "professional appearing" bag, I would consider primarily the Empire Builder, Zephyr, and Cadet. The Cadet is designed as a more minimalist briefcase-style bag. You can carry file folders and binders in the Cadet, but if you really want a bag for hauling around thick binders as a part of your daily carry, you're better off with the Zephyr or the Empire Builder. You should watch the video that maverick did of the Empire Builder on its product page, but realize that it is a few years old. One of the recent additions to the Empire Builder and Zephyr that hasn't made it yet to the product page descriptions, but that has been confirmed by the TB staff is the addition of loops that support using the Cache with Rails design. This is a padded cache that allows you to slide out laptops while keeping them in the cache and attached to the bags via the rails when going through Airport (or other) security. The concept was first introduced in the Checkpoint flyer (luggage with attached laptop bag, not currently in stock and probably up for re-design) and in the Cadet. The Cadet is designed to use a Cache with rails in place of the bulkier but more protective Brain Cell, but it additionally has foam padded front, back, and bottom.

    The main problem may be getting a good match to the size of a Cache or Brain Cell for these wide-screen Lenovo laptops with extended life batteries. I don't believe that the Size 4z Brain cell @tpnl referenced will fit your W530 if you are using the extended life battery. At least, I've tried the W520 with extended life battery in a similarly sized 4x Brain cell (a slightly older model than the 4x for the 15" MacBook with only slightly different dimensions from the 4z) and the W520 is too big to fit with the extended life battery.

    I think the problem is that many of the new laptops are going to smaller and lighter models, so there hasn't been as much demand for more large sizes of the Brain cell and Cache. The earlier model Thinkpads were quite well covered by previous Brain Cell sizes.

    You may want to try the different models out for exact fit and return what you don't need for a flat fee ($10, I think, for pre-printed UPS label, and up to 60 days return) in order to find the "sweet spot". It's also possible there is a forum member with one if these bags in your vicinity. And I would definitely order an Absolute Strap with any of these bags, and use it (with lots of other bags, too!). A lot of this is about finding the most workable bag for you, both in size and configuration.

    HTH. moriond
    Last edited by moriond; 04-28-2014 at 02:40 PM.

  13. #13
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    Oh believe me, I've watched all the videos!
    That one makes me mad because he's got the Empire Builder with the Wasabi interior, which I think is exactly what I need, but that color combination is not listed on the product page (and now black/grey/grey is sold out, now leaving only black/black/black).

    I wasn't sure I wanted to join the cult of Bihn yet, and particularly because I couldn't find the colors I wanted so I went ahead and ordered a Maxpedition Testudo ( https://www.maxpedition.com/store/pc...rge-3p1902.htm ) *

    I'm not a tall guy, so I was worried that it would be too big, or rather look too big when I was carrying it. After receiving it, it is not at all too big 'on me'. After trying to put all my 'everyday' stuff in it, it seems that if anything, the bag's capacity is just a bit small for me. It would be good for travel (since I take most of my daily file folders and some other stuff out anyway) and I really like the option to pull out shoulder straps and wear it like a bookbag (yes, like the TB Tri-Star) in case I have to trudge across from one side of an airport to the other.
    The padding seems sufficient to protect my laptop (I put it in the very middle of the main pocket, not in the side like the pictures on their website show) and it comes out easily without snagging on anything.

    As a result, I think this confirms that an Empire Builder would be the right size bag, and I do carry file folders around every day so the dividers would come in handy. The only real issue is laptop protection (which I guess I will just have to try and see if the 1/4" foam is good enough) and the fact that I can't get the light colored interior! I've been checking the website to see if any other color options show up but so far all that happened is one of the two existing options sold out. I guess I am kind of giving up on it for now; I'll come back and check this site now and then if I can remember to do it

    (*) In researching, I also looked at the Red Oxx briefcases (CPA and Metro) but just didn't like their aesthetics.
    Last edited by somenewguy; 05-07-2014 at 02:46 PM.


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