Recently, I've been hearing a lot from and about a company called RoadWired that specializes in computer bags and carrying cases. I looked at RoadWired's Web site and was impressed enough by its product line to request a review unit of the newly announced Digital Daypack, a backpack-style notebook carrying case.
Transporting portable computers is an area where I have way too much practical experience. I've been carrying a notebook nearly every business day for the past 10 years, so I have a good idea about what makes a good notebook carrying case. I've used everything from multihundred dollar leather Tumi bags to vendor giveaways, so I'm familiar with what works and what doesn't. I'm also a fan of using quality backpacks for occasions other than camping. My camera equipment hits the road in backpacks from Lowepro that are similar in price and design to the RoadWired backpack.
The Digital Daypack's construction is excellent and includes a full complement of the features that make a good backpack: shoulder harness, suspension system, appropriate padding, waterproofing where necessary, and a good selection of compartments and pockets. The notebook storage system seems effective, and after you load the pack, you can easily access items inside.
Unfortunately, the Digital Daypack has no storage compartments for business items. After you load the pack with your notebook and its accessories, little storage remains for the paperwork that accompanies most business travelers. Lack of convenient storage for travel paperwork and no easy access to paper files and folders (the only available storage area large enough for an 8 1/2" x 11" document is the notebook compartment) limits the Digital Daypack's use as a briefcase replacement. Also, I was surprised to see no way to stow the shoulder straps and suspension belt out of the way (the Lowepro camera packs let you hide the harnesses internally). Often, I don't want the harness and suspension belt hanging out, ready to be caught on any passing corner. The ability to secure the external harnesses is handy when you need to squeeze your bags into an overhead compartment without fear of getting them caught in someone else's baggage. I gave some thought to the possibility that the Digital Daypack isn't targeted at business users but at school students who carry notebooks, but when I look at the stuff my kids carry in their backpacks every day, I have trouble believing that the Daypack answers their needs either.
The RoadWired Digital Daypack is a good idea that needs a bit more development. If all you want is a reliable method for transporting your notebook and accessories, the Digital Daypack might fit your needs, but the pack lacks the usability of a daily backpack or briefcase. RoadWired's other notebook cases look like much better choices for the daily business notebook user. At $169.95, I don't find the Digital Daypack a compelling offering unless I decide to backpack into the mountains for a little quality time with my computer. The RoadWired Web site is worth a look; it lists some other products that are more compelling.