This is what it looks like:
Sturdy and sombre. Insanely compartmental. Zipped up tight. Buckled down. Portholed for headphones and lanyards.
Yes, those are all things you could say about the TechEd 2012 bag, should you so desire.
Microsoft OEM'ed the bag from well-known accessory maker Targus, and it appears to be this model:
TSB229AU | 16"Targus Expedition Backpack
The Expedition backpack would appeal to today's mobile professionals with an active lifestyle and a more casual work environment.
Combining convenience and comfort with attractive design, this backpack offers ample storage for your laptop computer with screens up to 16" and mobile accessories as well as a built-in rain cover and water resistant bottom.
- Padded laptop compartment with adjustable strap for screens up to 16"
- Well-padded back and shoulder straps for extra comfort
- Quick-access external zippered pocket for personal items
- 2 large zippered compartments with mesh pockets and space for media gadgets, pens, keys and business cards
- Convenient front mesh pocket
- Waist strap for added comfort
- Headphone porthole
- Built-in rain cover and water-resistant bottom
The TSB229AU is in Microsoft livery, with small blue accents instead if red/grey ones, but I was surprised to see that the Metro design elements had not been carried over to the bag. Sorry, not Metro. we're not allowed to use that anymore, are we? TUIFKAM I mean.
As I said, it rains in Auckland at the moment. An awful lot in fact, and I'm sure that TechEd 2012 participants will appreciate water-resistant bottoms and rain covers. The latter is stowed away neatly in a compartment and can be left hanging out as a fashion statement, or turned into to loose-fitting emergency underwear with the help of a pair of scissors.
It probably won't work as a parachute for Sky Tower bungee jumps gone wrong however, but I admit I didn't test this functionality.
Even though this is a quality bag, I'm tempted to give it a bad review because it's not... very eccentric or creative as some of the past models were. Legacy features such as spaces for pens, keys and business cards are so Windows XP too. There are apps for those, Microsoft.
This year, all TechEd participants will receive a surgical RFID headband implant that looks like this:
Which is really cool and forces you to attend at least 38 sessions or it will start transmitting painful electrical shocks to your temples at rapid intervals. You must wear it throughout the conference, and during the obligatory TechEd 2012 party, it will blink magically and rainbow coloured in tune to the music.
What would've been cool is if MS had made the RFID device NFC enabled too so people could share contact details and files by headbutting each other briefly.
Back to the bag. A closer look at the bag reveals its surface:
The surface is perfectly pleasant to the touch, especially around the embroidered Microsoft bit.
It is not, however, a replacement for The Microsoft Surface which looks like this:
Regrettably, I have to report that the bag is totally devoid of such a touch-enabled Surface. In light of the bag having space for media gadgets as per the official specifications, Microsoft's decision to not put a Surface inside it is all the more peculiar.
Really though, it's not a bad bag. I expect it will provide years of service, tableted or not.
UPDATE Peter Bryant is the real TechEd bag master. His collection from Europe events stretches back to 1994. Wow.
If you want to go to TechEd this year, note that early bird regos for $1,600 have sold out already, so it's the $1,900 standard ones only for individual delegates. Or you can do the group ones which are cheaper per head.
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