Behold the Bag

Juha Saarinen reviews the radical new design for the official Tech Ed 2005 Bag

The Bag is often the main motivation for attending any conference, but are developers ready for what Microsoft has in store for them at Tech Ed this year? Computerworldwas given an exclusive preview of the 2005 Tech Bag and came away stunned at Microsoft's daring design decisions.

Whereas the 2004 and earlier bags were shoulder-carried, the 2005 model is a compact backpack. That's right: the bike-courier look of yesteryear is gone, replaced by a perhaps more ergonomic — albeit geekier — rucksack strategy. Made of black heavy-duty nylon with grey accents, the bag is semi-rigid and stands up by itself, unlike its floppy predecessors. Apart from a small mesh side pocket, there are only two compartments, but they have dividers and pockets inside to keep stuff organised. A small to medium-sized portable should fit in easily, with cabling and powerbricks.

The '05 bag has the obligatory keyring hook and wallet and business card holders, but the memory stick pocket with a velcro flap is new. A mobile phone pocket on one of the carrying straps means there's no need to remove the backpack when the calls are a-coming.

A padded back means it's a comfortable enough bag for prolonged conference hikes, but has somewhat less capacity than the '04 model. Microsoft received stiff criticism for last year's bag, mainly because the sponsor logos were impossible to remove. This has been remedied in the '05 model: there's a discreet wrapper around one shoulder strap, with the sponsor names on it (NZ Trade and Enterprise, Telecom T3G, Intel and Computerworld) which is easy enough to remove. The MS Tech Ed 2005 logo won't come off easily though and we missed cabling for our Personal Area Network Jackets and wi-fi booster aerials.

Microsoft Tech Ed 2005 conference bag

Rating: 4/5

Pros: Backpack design easy to carry, high quality, discreet and removable sponsor logos

Cons: Bit small, slightly too geeky, no PAN or wi-fi booster aerial connectors

Microsoft Tech Ed 2005 runs until Wednesday at the Sky City Auckland Convention Centre

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