Reviews

Review: Waterfield Cargo bag

Posted on Sep 4, 2011 in iPad, Mac, Reviews

I’ve been on the lookout for a new laptop bag for a while. I was recently given a new MacBook Air for work and as my old bag was starting to fall apart and I often cycle to work, I needed something a bit more rugged than most typical commuter bags.

Waterfield bags are designed to be very tough (not surprising as the company was founded by a former bicycle messenger), so I was keen to take a closer look at the Waterfield Cargo bag.

 

Features

The Waterfield Cargo looks like fairly typical messenger-style bag at first. It has a shoulder strap, front flap and a buckle. But there are ton of nifty design touches that make the bag very practical in everyday use:

  • The top zip makes it easy to get stuff from the main compartment without lifting up the main flap
  • The interior fabric is a bright colour, that makes it easy to find things inside
  • The back pocket is great for your iPad or a folder with papers

Design

This bag looks pretty good, but the design isn’t the main reason you’d buy this bag. It’s a very functional design and it’s“tidy” enough to take into any office, without looking too corporate.

You can also customise the look quite a bit by choosing various trim and colour options.

Quality and Durability

Waterfield state that the bag was inspired by ruggedized bike messenger accessories and it certainly feels every bit as durable as its heritage. The nylon fabric is extremely tough and feels much more durable than the fabrics used on similar products from other well-known manufacturer’s bags I’ve owned.

This is how much I can easily fit in the Waterfield Cargo:

 

Contents of my bag

As I mentioned at the outset, I plan on commuting by bike quite a bit with this bag, so I want something that can be strapped to the back of a bike rack and withstand a bit of wear and tear. So far, the Waterfield Cargo has been more than up to the challenge: Despite being bumped around on the back of a bike for several weeks, kicked around on the floor of the subway and dragged halfway across Malaysia on my honeymoon, it still looks like new. Any dirt or muck you get on the bag easily brushes off, and all the seams and zips are rock solid.

Bonus Round

There’s a lot to like about this bag, but here are a few extra tidbits I particularly like:

  • The strap can easily being adjusted just by lifting an adjustment flap at the side, but it doesn’t accidently lift or slip
  • Underneath the front flap are two slim pockets that are almost hidden – perfect for storing your passport or other valuables somewhere hard to access while travelling.
  • The interior pockets don’t get in your way, so you can use the space inside the bag to the fullest.
  • If you do need extra compartments, the Sleevecase accessory is perfect for documents and laptops (it has two compartments, perfect for a MacBook and iPad), while the Cablepouch is great for all your accessories and cables:

 

Conclusion

At $189, the Waterfield Cargo is certainly one of the more expensive laptop bags out there. But this Waterfield bag, which was handmade in San Francisco, is extremely well made with high-quality materials used throughout, so I’d argue that the price is more than justified. If you’ve got a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air you’re carrying around, it’s worth investing in a good bag to protect it.

Unlike other messenger bags that I’ve owned, that have all started to fall apart at the seams after a few months of owning them, this bag feels as though it will give me a good few years of use.

The attention to detail and everyday practicality is very obvious — someone really thought about every aspect of this bag while designing it – and it is very versatile, equally useful as a travel bag for longer journeys or as a daily bag for the office.

Overall, highly recommended.

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DIY iPad Wedding Photobooth

Posted on Aug 21, 2011 in Hints, iPad, Opinions, Reviews

When we were planning our wedding, we saw lots of wedding photo booth ideas. You can either rent a traditional photo booth, or there are various DIY setups involving digital cameras.

I started thinking and thought it would be cool to have a setup that would allow people to see their snaps rights away, without having to go around to the camera itself. With a DSLR that supports remote control from a laptop, that is fairly easy to set up, but as it turned out, my cameras don’t support remote control over USB. So I started looking into alternatives and soon hit on the idea of using an EyeFi card and my iPad. (A few weeks after I started planning our photo booth, a story popped up on Engadget about a similar, albeit more professional, setup.)

What you’ll need

  • A digital camera with remote shutter release (I used the Panasonic GF-1 with a cheap wireless remote shutter release from eBay)
  • An EyeFi SD card in the camera (make sure it’s a newer EyeFi card with support for “direct mode”)
  • An iPad connected to the EyeFi network running the free EyeFi app
  • A tall tripod
  • A table or stand of some kind for the iPad
  • (optional) A frame, backdrop or props of some kind for guests to pose with

Camera, remote shutter, iPad and EyeFi card

With this setup, guests could take a snapshot using the remote shutter and almost instantly see it on the iPad a few seconds later. To speed up the wireless transfers, I configured the EyeFi card to wirelessly transfer the JPEGs only, whilst keeping the large RAW files on the card. This also allowed us to place the camera somewhere out of the way and still gave the guests a way to view their pictures.

The photo booth setup – the iPad is just off to the side on a table

One of the snaps from the photo booth

Other Tips

  • Turn on face recognition if your camera supports it and make sure the autofocus is correctly detecting your guests.
  • Turn off any power saving options on the camera and iPad.
  • If your setup is indoors, connect the iPad and camera to AC adapters, if possible.
  • You’ll need a fairly tall tripod or something to stand it on to get the camera up high enough. Ours was a bit low so I ended up adjusting the perspective using Adobe Lightroom.
  • Explain the setup to someone beforehand and ask them to keep an eye on things to make sure everything runs smoothly.
Our guests had a lot of fun with our DIY photobooth and I love the way the pictures turned out, highly recommended!
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First Impressions: Panasonic GF-1 vs. Olympus E-PL1

Posted on Jun 17, 2011 in Opinions, Photography, Reviews

I’ve been a fan of the Micro Four-Thirds format since I first played with the Olympus E-P1 shortly after it was released. Last year I picked up the Olympus E-PL1 and absolutely love it. It’s certainly not without flaws, but it’s a cheap and fun way to get started with “proper” photography and to learn about aperture, shutter speeds and other mysteries.

I had been on the lookout for the Panasonic 20mm prime lens, as it’s considered to be one of the best Micro Four-Third lenses out there. When I spotted a package deal that offered the 20mm lens with the GF-1, I couldn’t resist. Although both the GF-1 and E-PL1 have both been succeeded by newer models, I thought I’d share my impressions after using the GF-1 for about two weeks.

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Review: Dodocase for iPad 2

Posted on May 29, 2011 in iPad, Reviews

The first accessory every iPad 2 owner buys is one of Apple’s Smart Covers. But as elegant as the Smart Covers are, they do not offer much in the way of protection and my iPad already has a number of alarmingly deep scratches on the back from being in my bag with my keys and camera.

Enter the Dodocase for iPad 2 – a hand-made, book-like case with an elegant wooden frame. The DodoCase has a moleskine-like design and elegantly encloses your entire iPad like a hardback book. On the right side of the book sits a wooden frame that has special cutouts for the iPad, while the left has a trademark ownership label and customiseable colour  lining.

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Review: Sparrow

Posted on Feb 15, 2011 in Mac, Reviews

A shiny new Mail client for OS X has been making the rounds recently — Sparrow for Mac.

Sparrow first caught a lot of attention last year when the initial public beta was released. I have to admit, I was quite skeptical after a first look: it seemed like a weird rip-off of Tweetie for Mac combined with everything I disliked about the Gmail web interface.

But the final 1.0 release has really won me over. Sparrow gets rid of the visual clutter caused by lists of folders, unread count badges etc. and puts your email front and center.

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Olympus PEN E-PL1 Review

Posted on Dec 9, 2010 in Photography, Reviews

Hot on the heels of the Sony NEX-3 review, we’ll next take a look at another micro DSLR camera, the Olympus E-PL1. This is a smaller, cheaper PEN-series camera, that offers a lot of the features found on the E-P1 (which I had a chance to review last year) and E-P2 at a much lower price. But just how capable is the E-PL1?

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