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  1. #1
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    Empire Builder or Zephyr?

    Hi!

    I've been reading reviews on laptop bags for the past couple of months, since I've been researching quite heavily into tablets and accessories for college this September. I've finally purchased a Fujitsu T2010 with an extended battery - and I'm having a bit of trouble deciding which bag to go with.

    I'm looking at the Zephyr and the Empire Builder; I'd like to go with the Zephyr if I can fit what I need it in, since it will be a bit more mobile than the Empire (obviously) but if I can't fit what I need in it then I will likely go with the Empire - which would also give me more flexibility to take other things in the winter)


    So I will be using a Fujitsu T2010 mainly - this will *always* be the main item in the bag - and so for that I know I will need a brain bag (Size 5) [As a side note..I notice the T2010 isn't listed even though someone said in a forum post it would be added! - I search ]

    I'm also considering getting an Acer Aspire One - which I will likely also carry around with me. This will call for a Brain Cell Size 7.

    Ideally, most of my textbooks will be kept on my T2010 as ebooks/scanned PDFs - so it will cut down on the books I need to carry. That being said, I may need to carry around novels or other small books as well. Likely no more than 2-3.

    What would also be nice, is to be able to carry a textbook or two if I had to, though I highly doubt I'd be able to carry both laptops and some novels AND the textbooks, maybe in the Empire?

    Other accessories:

    -Power bricks/cables for both laptops, ethernet cords, usb thumb drives, SD cards etc (likely buy an organizer for this) as well as pens, pencils, calculator etc (again, another organizer).
    --(Also looking at the Freudian Slip for this and the snake charmer for the power plugs)
    -Mouse (not a huge fan of trackpoints/pads)
    -Creative Zen Vision:M /other Mp3 player if this awesome beast ever fails on me.
    -Cellphone - currently using a Motorola RAZR2 V9; may get a touch-style phone like the HTC Diamond or a new equivalent in the future. Is there a pocket this would fit in nicely (same with the MP3) or would a Mini/Small organizer work for this?
    -Sunglasses (I can stick my case in there to keep them safe)
    -Wallet (would be nice )
    -Some DVDs,CDs, Games
    -Keys
    -Would likely stick my hat in there as well
    -Food, likely a small tupperware container, can/bottle drink, some other snacks etc

    Also, how well does a water bottle fit in the bag? Is there a nice compartment to stick one in one of the front pouches?

    In addition to this, being able to stuff in a sweatshirt might be nice as well, I'm in Canada..so..winter sucks. It gets cold outside and I often wear a sweatshirt underneath my leather jacket, but inside the sweatshirt becomes way too hot. Being able to easily stuff it away would be nice.


    I am *also* considering getting a portable scanner and printer to carry around (those manual-feed ones).

    And, the possibility of me getting a camera in the future as well. I may also get a small portable modem (for rogers wireless internet) if I decide to get that plan in the future)

    Basically I want a bag I can take to school and essentially live/work out of for the day. I live at home, which is about an hour away from my college by bus, so I want to be able to head down there, go to class and have everything I need at my side, and when my class is over (I have a decent schedule with an hour between most classes - more on some days) - go out, find a powerplug and relax/get some work done. I'd also like to be able to carry food around since I'd rather not be spending money on takeout/dine in every day...too expensive.

    So, which one would be better for me? I'm leaning towards the Empire now that I've written this and gotten my needs down together, since I think it would allow me more flexibility in the choices of what I take with me - but I'd still like to see if the Zephyr would work for my more basic needs. It's not an issue of the price difference, but rather, having the smaller bag VS having more bag space. Mobility VS Functionality, if you gather what I mean.

    Anyways, thanks for anyone who can give me some feedback. Much appreciated - especially if you have firsthand experience with either or both (especially both!)

    A question for the staff (Darcy was the one who mentioned it I think) Has the new batch with the extra O-Rings in the main compartment been put through? If I was to order an Empire Builder - would I get one with the extra rings..or would it be random..or are they not done yet?

    Another question - the Empire comes with a key lanyard, correct? Is this the 8 inch or the 16 inch if it does?

    -Justin

  2. #2
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    Caveat: I own the Zephyr only and have never seen the Empire Builder in person. And I own a Brain Bag.

    The Zephyr is a very large briefcase (the largest I've seen), but it is only a briefcase. A Brain Cell will take up about half the depth of the bag. (There are only clips in there for one brain cell, by the way.) 2 Brain Cells will just about take up the full depth of the bag, with space at the ends and in the top where the brain cells are smaller than the Zephyr. I am not sure how large these spaces would be or how useful they would be.

    It is possible to stuff a water bottle into the slanted pocket on the flap, but this makes it bulge awkwardly and I only do this for short distances.

    Looking at your list I'd wonder why you're not considering the Brain Bag? Your bag is going to be heavy and a backpack is much better for your back. If you don't want the Brain Bag then the Empire Builder would be your only option.

    All my bags have come with the 8" key snap.

    Audrey

  3. #3
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    The two laptops shouldn't be too heavy, ideally it won't be on my shoulder much - walk to the bus + walking around campus. Though I do see your point.

    I like the messenger/briefcase style better than a typical backpack..and it seems like I should be able to fit both laptops in snugly enough, correct? (To the empire).

    Does the Brain Bag have dual clip-sets for 2 brain cells? If not, the advantage it holds isn't *that* high over, besides the space.

    Wish I had something to physically try and compare to - checking reviews of the brain bag now.

  4. #4
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    Everything that you listed, except for the water bottle, will fit nicely into an Empire Builder. It does get heavy and very full with two laptops in their Brain Cells, but it can be done. However, the water bottle will be a problem.

    Maybe the Brain Bag would be a better option? I don't have one, so I can't say.
    Jim Hall
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    My TB bags: 2 - Empire Builder 1 - Checkpoint Flyer

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jehingr View Post
    Everything that you listed, except for the water bottle, will fit nicely into an Empire Builder. It does get heavy and very full with two laptops in their Brain Cells, but it can be done. However, the water bottle will be a problem.

    Maybe the Brain Bag would be a better option? I don't have one, so I can't say.
    Including a sweater/sweatshirt? I tend to wear thicker hoodies - looking at the brain bag it seems to give me a bit more space, which might be better for me.

    I'm leaning a bit more towards the brain bag now, especially with the water-bottle compartment and strap for an umbrella, which is ingenious.

    I think with that, a snake charmer and a freudian slip I should be able to get most of what I want in there nice and comfortably.

    Edit:

    Also, what do people think about the Strapeez things? Useful much - or not so much with the snake charmer (I'm definitely getting)

    Also, the Nikwax - it snows a lot here, I'm thinking this would be a decent idea, anyone with experience? (I read the brain bag already has coating on it which should last me a bit)

    And, the key strap for the brain bag; does it come with one like the empire builder?
    Last edited by Corazu; 08-12-2008 at 09:41 PM.

  6. #6
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    Justin,

    The Brain Bag has 2 main sections, each with the mounting for a set of clips to hold Brain Cells. (When you order ask for an extra set of clips - they'll throw them in for free but it comes standard with only one set of clips.) And there are two heights that you can mount them depending on how you want to use them - you can have the tops of the Brain Cells right at the top of the Brain Bag making access easy, or you can place them lower so that the Snake Charmer can sit on top of the Brain Cell.

    There will be lots of room available in the Brain Bag underneath the Brain Cells to hold everything else that you need and more besides. On days you wanted to you'd have no trouble popping in a set of gym wear and gym shoes, for example.

    Most laptop type cords seem to come with a strapeez type of strap nowadays - if you don't have any I highly recommend them! Long term it prevents your cables from kinking into impossible, untidy tangles.

    Brain Bag comes with a 8" key snap.

    Do not ignore the possibilities of the Cordura pouches, by the way. They can be used for anything! When my husband couldn't find the case for his shaver I popped it into a medium pouch where it fit perfectly and took up much less room than the original case.

    Audrey

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by falconea View Post
    Justin,

    The Brain Bag has 2 main sections, each with the mounting for a set of clips to hold Brain Cells. (When you order ask for an extra set of clips - they'll throw them in for free but it comes standard with only one set of clips.) And there are two heights that you can mount them depending on how you want to use them - you can have the tops of the Brain Cells right at the top of the Brain Bag making access easy, or you can place them lower so that the Snake Charmer can sit on top of the Brain Cell.

    There will be lots of room available in the Brain Bag underneath the Brain Cells to hold everything else that you need and more besides. On days you wanted to you'd have no trouble popping in a set of gym wear and gym shoes, for example.

    Most laptop type cords seem to come with a strapeez type of strap nowadays - if you don't have any I highly recommend them! Long term it prevents your cables from kinking into impossible, untidy tangles.

    Brain Bag comes with a 8" key snap.

    Do not ignore the possibilities of the Cordura pouches, by the way. They can be used for anything! When my husband couldn't find the case for his shaver I popped it into a medium pouch where it fit perfectly and took up much less room than the original case.

    Audrey
    http://www.tombihn.com/page/001/PROD/ACC/TB0318 ? edit: nvm, I see the Cordura as well

    I was planning on possibly getting some - I don't think either of my new laptops come with strapeez on them, same with my old one..I might buy a couple of them as well.

    Thanks Audrey (and Darcy!) you guys have been very helpful

    Will likely put through my order soon - tomorrow night if possible

  8. #8
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    I have both bags, and for all that you want to carry, you're going to need the Empire Builder.

    I actually prefer the Zephyr and have settled on it as my main bag, but I don't carry as much as you want to. Just my MacBook in a Brain Cell, assorted cables and power adapters, couple of books and magazines, a camera or two. Plenty of room left over for a sweater, etc.

    But if you really need to carry all the items you listed, you'll need the EB.

  9. #9
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    TB0300 Horizontal Brain Cell 1 $60.00 $60.00
    Size: Size 7 - Black
    TB0104 Brain Bag 1 $140.00 $140.00
    Color: Steel
    Horizontal Brain Cell: Size 5 - Crimson $60.00 $60.00
    Freudian Slip: Yes $35.00 $35.00
    Snake Charmer: Steel $25.00 $25.00
    Annex Clips: Yes $2.00 $2.00
    TB0318 Padded Organizer Pouches 1 $7.00 $7.00
    Size: Mini
    TB0513 Key Strap 1 $2.00 $2.00
    Length: 8-inch
    OP0400 Strapeez 1 $7.00 $7.00
    Pick: 6 Black
    TB0318 Padded Organizer Pouches 1 $7.00 $7.00
    Size: Small $2.00 $2.00
    TB0513 Key Strap 1 $2.00 $2.00
    Length: 16-inch
    TB0318 Padded Organizer Pouches 1 $7.00 $7.00
    Size: Medium $4.00 $4.00
    Shipping: UPS Expedited to Canada (2-5 Business Days): $30.00


    I ended up going with:

    Brain Bag
    -Horizontal Brain Cell 5 (for the t2010)
    -Snake Charmer
    -Horizontal Freudian Slip
    -Extra Annex Clips
    Horizontal Brain Cell 7 (for the Aspire One)
    Padded Organizer Pouch
    -Mini x1
    -Small x1
    -Medium x1
    8 inch Key strap
    16 inch Key strap
    Strapeez (1 pack)

    So..hopefully I covered all my bases

    Now..I can't wait! >.<

    Thanks all!

  10. #10
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    May 2006
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    498
    I carry two laptops in my Empire Builder a lot.
    Almost always either a 12" Powerbook or a Macbook in their Brain Cells in addition to a Panasonic Toughbook in the raw.
    It can get heavy but I have gotten used to it mostly.
    There is easily enough room for a Snake Charmer or two even,crammed way too full and also much of the other stuff I need for the day.

    Every now and then I wonder if some thread or seam might break thus dumping electronics on the floor or ground but so far the bags seem just like new that way.

    On a side note,I also find myself using nothing but my Ipod Touch on more and more jobs where I merely need Network troubleshooting or internet access.
    You should see the looks on the clients faces when I walk in without a briefcase and just pull the Touch from my shirt pocket.
    So far none have suggested my rate be reduced due to my new hardware load.
    Good Thing!

    I love it when technology really does help.

    Ed


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