Review: ThinkGeek Bag of Holding Tote

Disclaimer: This is a review unit I was able to get from the lovely people at ThinkGeek.

As anyone who has been viewing this blog for a long time, you’ll know one of my pet peeves in my digital life is that I struggle immensely with finding the right sort of bag for my tech. I’m not entirely a “and the kitchen sink” kind of person. But, with my daily commute and the amount I have to travel, I do have to consider seriously what bag will suit my purpose the best. That usually depends on what I’m doing. Am I flying? Am I just going to town? How long will I be waiting for one form of transport to another? Do I need to bring clothes? A myriad of question always accompanies all of these essential choices.

Most people would know that I swear by my Timbuk2 Custom Prospect messenger bag. It’s my regular go-to for travelling and day to day use. You can find more of my gushing over it in my Women Tech Bag Video.

So, with the ThinkGeek Bag of Holding Tote, there are a few things that are worthy to note about it before we get started.

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Product Specifications

  • Convertible Tote of Holding
  • A ThinkGeek creation & exclusive
  • Comes with double handles and also removable backpack straps
  • Custom d20 print accent
  • Magnetic snap closure at top
  • Organizer built-in to lining (9 card slots, 2 open pouches, 2 zip pouches, ThinkGeek keyholder)
  • Metal feet on the bottom for durability
  • Materials: 100% polyurethane exterior; 100% polyester lining
  • Care Instructions: Hand wash
  • Exterior Dimensions: 13″ wide x 17″ tall x 4″ thick
  • Weight: 2 1/2 lbs.

It is a beautiful bag; its print accent is one of the most striking elements of the tote. It’s wonderfully detailed, and I regularly got compliments and comments from the passers-by who I encountered who were curious about where on earth I found a bag that had a pattern of a D20! It’s a testament to the care and craft of putting a bag together like this. kgiq_convertible_tote_holding_detSubtle details in the stitching and lining indicate this to the core. It’s challenging to find a rough edge on the tote, and that’s a testament to the craft of it in itself. However, that robust construction comes at a price in the form of its weight. It’s a good two pounds when its empty. So, if people are expecting this to be a light bag, I fear this may not be one for you.

That being said, I wanted to put it through its paces. I was off to a Ted X in Canada, and I decided since it was an overnight trip that I would need to bring a change of clothes for the event. I was also going to need to bring some form of entertainment, food. I made a noble attempt to fit all of these items into the tote but alas I failed to do so without leaving some essential items out. Which is a no-go for this bag to be used as my new travel companion. I’m not going to lie; I was pretty astonished that I couldn’t fit more into it, dimensions wise it’s a pretty big tote bag. Now, as my Youtube Review Video will show, I am bringing quite a bit, and arguably my packing cube for my clothes was the principal offender when it came to the space available. It was still none the less surprising though, as right now it’s not quite living up to my expectations for a bag that has the title of Bag of Holding.

My timbuk2 to had to resume its position for that particular trip as I had little issue getting the contents I needed there for my trip. Throughout my time bouncing from airport to airport to get to Toronto I was curious about what other use cases could I use this bag for? So, I decided I’m regularly in and out to college as well as the gym I would see if this would be a suitable all in one solution for this, as my Timbuk2 for those trips is complete overkill. Sadly, I ran into different issues when using this bag as a daily driver for my college and gyms trips.

kgiq_convertible_tote_holding_int1Cardinal of all sins for me is the lack of a dedicated pocket for my laptop/tablet. This is something I’m quite pedantic about. I think if you’re creating any bag, it makes sense to have a dedicated pocket for your tech that needs that added bit of protection. So having something that didn’t even protect my iPad had me quite frustrated in parts. I was always second guessing where things were in my bag or worrying if my lunch box was going to spill and what that would do to said iPad.

I ran into the space issue on multiple occasions too, sometimes having to forfeit a bigger towel for the gym or a bottle of water to fit something else in for a particular day. Which, evidently, isn’t a great solution for things either. It’s not as if I’d be bringing a lot with me for these sessions, but I’d always feel like I was running short on space.

It leads to a more significant comment too which is after a while it can tend to make the bag heavier than you would otherwise think. Having a 2-pound starting weight then adding other essential items on top of that can rapidly make a significant weight change to the overall bag and limits your options on how best to carry it.

kgiq_convertible_tote_holding_strapsMy go-to carry style was to use it by the handles on my shoulder as I was always overly aware in the backpack style that a small clip only closes the bag, and it would be straightforward to reach into the bag from that position pretty much unbeknownst to the wearer. So I didn’t have enough experience with the backpack style element to make a concrete opinion on it other than its relatively well executed but the straps suffer from the same fault that others do which is the straps are awful thin. This can lead to the straps cutting into your shoulders, and I am a women function over fashion. So, in my time of usage it didn’t get a lot of use, but as always your mileage may vary.

It might seem like I’m ragging on the Tote, but really, I’m not. I think I’d be more lenient on it if they’d omitted the title of it is a Bag of Holding. I think that’s where I’ve got the most of a mental block. I can’t view this bag out of the context of it being in its brand. The line is notorious for being compact but being able to hold pretty much everything. I’ve even seen the standard bags, and others in the range attest to this mantra. This, however, doesn’t.

Let me be clear; it is not a bad bag in the least. It’s incredibly constructed, aesthetically pleasing and works as a bag. But is it a bag of holding worthy of the namesake? I don’t think so.

You can find out more about think ThinkGeek Bag of Holding Tote at http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/kgiq/?srp=1

Podcast: Pocketnow Weekly

Consider this an item ticked off my bucket list! I made it to the Pocketnow Weekly with my very good friends Juan & Jules. This is a bit of a rollercoaster of a podcast, so I hope you enjoy it!

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About us: Pocketnow has been a key source of mobile technology news and reviews since its establishment in 2000. With offices on three continents, Pocketnow offers round-the-clock coverage of the mobile technology landscape, from smartphones to tablets to wearables. We aim to be your number-one source for mobile tech news, reviews, comparisons, and commentary. If you love mobile as much as we do, be sure to subscribe!

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A Dumb Phone in 2017 – LG B470

When I was planning on myself and Splinters honeymoon this year, there was something that I was adamant about, and that was that I was going to be as tech-free as possible. I was not going to take my smartphone with me (at least, not my daily driver) and I was going to take a hiatus from all forms of social media and internet dependency.

This leads to a couple of issues while travelling; firstly how were you going to get from place to place if you couldn’t book a Lyft to the airport, and when you get to the airport how were you going to get through security without your boarding pass? These were all challenges I was going to have to face without having a handset on hand to do all of these tasks for me that I would have just taken for granted. What I learned is that I certainly do take these things for granted, my iPad served as a grading surrogate for a lot of these unusual tasks. However, it all got done, and our honeymoon went relatively unhindered as a result.

For the honeymoon, myself and Splintor went travelling a fair bit of it. We went to New York to see some of the Pocketnow crew for a few days, then we went to Orlando for five days to go and look at the parks and finally a week in Cancun to rest from all of the running around of the week prior. It leads to a fundamental problem – how am I going to call people or arrange to meet people while I’m over there? If myself and Mark are going to book a reservation for a restaurant, how are we meant to do that completely phone free? Turns out that bit, we can’t.

medium03So, we had to come to some arrangement. How could we remain connected and disconnected at the same time? The solution to that question came in the form of the LG B470, a dumb phone surviving in 2017.

As an AT&T exclusive, it’s not got the highest specs in the world, nor does it have the best camera.

Summary
Screen Size 2.2 inches
Screen Resolution 220 x 176 pixels
Battery Capacity 950 mAh
Camera Resolution 1.3 MP
Processor
Memory
Storage
Carrier AT&T
Other Features Text & Multimedia Messaging, Mobile Web, Text to Speech
Series B470

Though, as laughable as the concept may be for $25 per handset including the prepaid credit that was already on the phone it served our needs perfectly. We could make calls, tell the time, (an unexpected hindrance of continually being attached to a smartwatch. When you don’t bring the smartphone, you tend not to bring the smartwatch either!) and text people were required.

medium01

I remember trying to walk out of Best Buy to text Jules to see which Starbucks near Central Park we were meant to meet and struggling tremendously with the concept of T9. Stopping in the middle of the shop, swearing under my breath as this was something I hadn’t done since my early teens and it had escaped me. I felt like I’d blasted to some point in the future when technology will at some stage get away from my grasp, and I had the confusion I see in my elders. It hit me with the full force of that knowledge, and I was angry that I’d lost that part of my ability. I remember being able to text without looking under my desk in class (Sorry, Mam) and being able to write perfect messages because I had everything down to muscle memory.

It slowly came back, like riding a bike, and over those few days, I discussed with my tech Screen Shot 2017-11-13 at 03.15.18friends the concept of reverting to something like this for the two-week process. People were curious how were we going to document our experiences without something there always at hand for us to use. There was a sense of nostalgia looking at a flip phone like this and lamenting for a simpler time.

I don’t think that lamentation is misplaced, and it is a simpler place to be. A simpler place to sit. A simpler place to just exist. I found myself not wanting to be anywhere else except where I was. It gave me an opportunity to be present and with the people who were around me. That’s not something that I get to feel in everyday life; there is some much that is around us that calls for our attention regularly. So, for me at least it was a beautiful gift to give not just to myself but for the people around me. It was what I hoped to get from spending my time being disconnected from the digital world for a bit.

I would highly recommend it, even just for a little while. To force yourself to tune out and turn off. Give yourself and the people you love the time just to be. It just goes to show that sometimes, going a few steps back can push you a few steps forward.

My time with the Bose QC35

A short time with my Bose Q35’s

When you think about high-quality headphones with a solid reputation for both build quality and sound fidelity, it’s possible the brand Bose would be one that would pop into mind. Bose is a brand that is synonymous with best in class noise cancelling and has a reputation for producing high-quality headphones.

My Bose QC35’s were not my first experience with the brand, as I’d picked up a set of

Bose-SoundTrue-Headphones-On-Ear-Style-Mint-Color-2

beautiful mint green/blue SoundTrue on-ear headphones a few Christmases ago. They were a set of headphones that I used them daily until they eventually succumbed to the inevitable pressure of time. I’d purchased them during a flash sale when I just happened to be in the shop at the right time.

Splintor was always someone who was obsessed with there QuietComfort Range. Even for someone who doesn’t have to travel regularly he always loved the idea of just getting lost in the silence or the beat of the music without consideration for the noise of the outside world. I’ve never had such longings; I’m a bit of a headphone snob, so I change them regularly once the nuance of a set of headphones loses its wonder. I also have tinnitus and other sorts of audio processing issues. So, the noise cancelling settings on the QC35’s always made my ears feel like they were going to explode. Which, as the Bose Reps assured me, is not meant to happen.

So why buy them? I’m not a noise-cancelling fan and if I go through headphones quite regularly, why bother dropping €375 on them?

cq5dam.web.1920.1920

Well, I received them as a gift for my wedding. Someone very generously gave the QC35’s as a gift, given how much travel I’ve had to do of late. So, there is no excuse not to give these headphones with a good run through and see what is what!

I wanted to like them, I did. But, I don’t. I’ve used these headphones on and off for the last six months, and I can’t convince myself to use them regularly or even at all. There are several reasons why, and part of me is curious about the fact that I may just have received a dodgy unit. However, in saying that, it hasn’t prompted me to try and return them. I don’t think even if I did that I’d be willing to give them a second chance.

I’m aware this is an unpopular opinion. There are plenty of my tech friends who do nothing but rave about these headphones. For a fun review of the more positive elements of these headphones, I’d encourage you to go and check out Mr Mobiles Review. Michael loved these headphones so much he bought them twice which is a testament to just how good these headphones can be with the proper appreciation.

I guess proper appreciation might be a little unfair to my overall opinion of them. I do however think that there is something for everyone and this may just not be for me. My main complaints can be summarised quite easily.

The Bluetooth connection was irregular at best, and that was a difference between moving from an LG G6 to a Samsung Galaxy Note 8. It would cut out randomly between songs depending on where I was. My daily commute to get in and out of town usually consists of a good 20 to 30-minute walk to get to my local bus stop then another hour on that bus to then have to walk for another 20 or 30 minutes to get to my final destination. I would have to resync the headphones regularly. Or they would randomly cut out mid-song. After a while, the process of just connecting and reconnecting would get annoying at best.

The battery life on the QC35 was great for the first week of commuting and then regularly after that the battery life would become equally as sporadic. Some weeks I’d get a regular commuting week out of them. Other weeks, I’d barely make it through a round trip before getting a low battery warning. While the QC35’s does come with a cable so that you can still use them wired to a standard 3.5 headphone jack, you lose that precious noise cancellation in the process, and that is where one of my biggest complaints would be.

nexus2cee_bose-qc35-case-4

The Noice Cancelation didn’t work consistently. Somedays it would be like the noise cancellation would either be on super low or would just cut in and out randomly throughout the day. This was causing me more usage issues than anything else, as I mentioned previously I don’t have a good history with the noise cancelling on the QuietComfort range not creating me some discomfort in the process of using them.

Now, before anyone mentions it in the comments; Yes, I did use the app, and I have done all of the firmware updates. But none of them made any considerable improvement in my overall experience and honestly I don’t know if there is much more to be said about it. I’ve had people who had bought them in a similar time frame to me who have had related issues and had had merely their headphones replaced. Something that is undoubtedly in Bose favour here is that their customer support team have always been steady and reliable, so I’ve no concerns about returning to them and getting a resolution to this issue.

However, I’m left with a sense of them that I don’t want to. Maybe the headphones aren’t the problem, but that it’s got more to do with me, perhaps these just aren’t my holy grail headphones. Ultimately, I think that’s ok with me too. They’ll find a home with Splintor for the time being until I can find a set of headphones to call my own.

Beginners Guide To Battery Packs

This is a quick beginner guide as to what to look out for when you’re purchasing your first battery pack.

Technology. It’s great. You have an entirely digital world at your fingertips. From getting some much-needed work done at home or at the office to capturing those special moments when you’re out and about. If there is one thing we need to help us to stay on the pulse of things around us is power! This is a quick beginner guide as to what to look out for when you’re purchasing your first battery pack.

anker
Anker PowerCore+ mini 3350mAh

Battery Cases

So let’s start with our smartphones. By far these tiny glowing screens are one of the most used things in our modern lives, and the most complained about the problem with smartphones is battery life. Mophie aims to solve this issue with their charging cases, and these are some of the leading ranges of built-in battery packs. They cover a broad variety of devices from the latest iPhones to Samsung’s and HTCs. These cases are a perfect solution for those of us who need a little-added juice!

Battery Packs

Battery packs come in all shapes and sizes, but their purpose is the same. To keep you connected at a time when you need it most! Most battery packs won’t only charge your phone when you’re in a pinch. With the new opportunities that USB Type C introduces (A blog on this will be written soon so keep an eye out!), it’s time to actually start thinking about how these pockets full of power can be used to help you!

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There are two things you really need to know regarding battery packs which are what size do you need your battery pack to be and what are you charging?

MaH (MiliAmp Per Hour)

Most lipstick style chargers or smaller thinner chargers are only designed with a small battery pack in mind. Smaller chargers tend to be lighter and hold less charge than their bigger counterparts which can often weigh up to a pound! So always be sure to check to see if the battery pack you want is a proper weight for you to be carrying around with you. Always try and get a battery pack that has the charge capacity and form factor that suits your style best.

The Power of Charge

The second thing you need to keep in mind is Amperage or A, you’ll see this on most of the spec sheets you’ll see on your chargers or your technology. As a general rule of thumb (this certainly doesn’t apply to everything but its a good start) 1Amp is ideal for phones and portable games consoles. 2.1 amp is perfect for larger tablets, laptops and things that would have bigger batteries. Typically, think of 2.1 amp for things that would have the biggest

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Pearl: Compact Mirror + USB Battery Pack 3000mAh

battery. Not all chargers would have this as an option, so it is always best to check your options before you purchase any battery packs, so that it suits whatever your charging.  
So what do you think? Are there any battery packs that you swear by? Are there any tips and tricks that you’d recommend to others? Tell us about them in the comments below. Be sure to give this video a thumbs up if you liked what you saw, hit that subscribe button and share this blog on your favourite social media. Keep an eye out for the video version of this blog on our Should You Care – Youtube channel