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Tom Bihn Forums: Community discussion on travel bags, laptop bags, and backpacks. Tom Bihn has been designing and making bags since 1972. The best materials and innovative construction.

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  1. #1
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    Mar 2004
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    Brain Cell vs. Trager Transporter?

    I just purchased a Trager Transporter (sight unseen) and am frankly a little disappointed after reading all the advertising hype and reviews. What is amusing is the warning label that is sewn deep inside the bag:

    “Important: This pocket is designed to protect your laptop computer during normal everyday transport. It will not protect your computer if it is mishandled or dropped.” (This is about the same warning I would expect if I were to carry the laptop inside a paper bag.)

    In looking at the Trager Transporter, I’d believe that it would protect a laptop sufficiently if it were dropped a distance of several inches and LANDING PRECISELY on the REAR EDGE – which has about a 2” thick layer of foam. It would not realistically provide any protection against a fall or significant bump if it impacted on any other side of the case. So – I view the Transporter as a nicely enhanced scratch-and-dirt protection sleeve, but little else.

    The Brain Cell is advertised here with at least the implication that it is capable of providing sufficient protection for a laptop if bounced around in an airline overhead compartment or perhaps dropped a short distance to a hard surface. Since I can’t locally inspect a Brain Cell, can you provide any comments regarding how its level of protection compares to that of the Transporter? I get the impression that these products are only intended to be a first layer of defense in depth, with the assumption that they will in turn be carried inside another bag with its own level of padding/protection ….

  2. #2
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    Jan 2004
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    7
    The brain cell and the transporter are basically the same bags. They're designed almost exactly the same, aside from the use of velcro on the brain cell compared to zippers on the transporter. The brain cell has a bit more protection though, especially on top as it is padded, whereas the transporter has no padding whatsoever on top, just a zipper. Neither will realistically save your laptop if you drop it any amount of distance, but they are certainly better than most other sleeves. All these sleeves are designed to be placed in another bag and in these situations the brain cell and transporter are hands down probably the most protective sleeves you can buy.

  3. #3
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    May 2003
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    Hmerly has the idea.

    Two other differences between the Brain Cell and Transporter are that the Brain Cell has an exterior mesh pocket while the Transporter does not, and the Brain Cell also comes in five different colors, while the Transporter only comes in black.

    We can't guarantee that your laptop would be protected inside the Brain Cell if it were dropped. We don't want to get calls from people who decide to throw their laptops in the Brain Cell across the room and then say "You said it would protect my laptop!"

    However, we do often get calls or emails from customers who drop their laptops when they are inside the Brain Cell, such as this one:

    "Hey Tom, I have been using your Monolith bag for sometime now. Today, I was driving down the street, and coming to a stop, my door opened and my Powerbook fell to the ground. I thought that my screen was toast, but when I opened it up, all I found was one small crack on the bottom case. Thank you for your great case."

    (the Monolith provides the same protection as the Brain Cell but is in a vertical format for backpacks)
    Current Carry: Skookum Dog Citizen Canine prototype, Founder's Briefcase (every day carry), Small Cafe Bag (every day carry), Shop Bags (groceries, extra random stuff), Aeronaut 45 (travel), Synapse 19 (day hikes), Smart Alec (longer day hikes), Skookum Dog Road Duffel (Medium) (travel), Clear Organizer Wallet, Travel Stuff Sacks, Organizer Cubes

  4. #4
    CEO
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    Yes, I'd aggree with the two most recent posts: our Brain Cell is quite similar to the Trager Transporter (and also whatever Brenthaven calls its "hard-shell" insert).
    If you need more protection, I'd recommend a Pelican or a Zero Halliburton http://www.zerohalliburton.com/

    Remember we have generous return policy, so please feel free to return the Transporter (I'm assuming you purchased it from Tom Bihn) if you find it inadequate.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
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    3

    transporter

    Thanks for all the input .... No, I didn't purchase the transporter from you guys, and I only noticed the Brain Cell after the fact. I posted here in trying to get a sense as to whether the BC was materially more protective than the Transporter, so I could judge what kind of outer bag (padded vs non-padded) would be needed, regardless of whether I purchased a BC or simply used the Transporter. Sounds like regardless of the sleeve brand, a padded outer bag is in order.

    Thanks again for all the input.

  6. #6
    Volunteer Moderator
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    Mar 2004
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    Northern Virginia
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    2,357

    zero and pellican

    to comment on tom's recommendation of the zero and pellican, i have used a zero (i believe that the model was z5) to carry my powerbook g4 titanium some time ago, and it took a lot of abuse and protected my powerbook nicely.

    i drive a jeep cherokee and had a very full cargo area one day. in a hurry, i quickly opened my trunk and my zero fell to the ground. it dented the corner of the zero, but my powerbook was unharmed.

    i've used pellican cases for carrying a video camera. though i have not dropped it, i trust that with all of its padding that the video camera would be well protected in a fall.

    the zero was not adequate for my needs, as i could carry litle else with it.

    i've never considered a pellican case for my powerbook because they are too bulky for my everyday use.

  7. #7
    Registered User
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    ohio
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    Re: transporter

    Originally posted by elliottk
    Sounds like regardless of the sleeve brand, a padded outer bag is in order.

    Thanks again for all the input.
    is a padded outer bag really needed? I was thinking that the brain cell in a shoulder bag or something like that would be sufficient protection.

  8. #8
    CEO
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    IMHO, elliottk is being extremely cautious about this. We've sold thousands of Brain Cells and many of them are used always or often on their own, sans outer sac. We've had pretty much -zero- complaints and lot's of raves, so I feel pretty confident about it.
    The "warning label" refered to above was added at the advice, I am sure, of Trager's attorney; ours has yet to recommend this.


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