Review: Folee XM Laptop Bag

Everything has a place in this Booq bag (March 27th, 2006)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: BOOQ, LLC

Price: $ 189.95 US

The Good

  • Surprisingly lightweight and balanced when full. A pocket for everything. Comfortable to carry. Seems indestructible.

The Bad

  • Shoulder strap canít be shortened enough for us smaller folk. Outside iPod pockets are not cushioned. No bottom feet.

Last December I finally acquired a 15-inch PowerBook G4. With no way to protect my new treasure, I left the machine on a desk out of harm's way until I could find that one special case. My old G3 PowerBook traveled in a perfect vertical sleeve that sported a small padded handle with 4 outside zipper and netting pockets. The Eastern Mountain Sports backpack insert was simple and met my pick up and go needs. A search to find a similar case yielded only an add-on to MacAlly's Travel Roller, but I needed more.

A bag for all needs

The PowerBook's odd size, 13.7 x 9.5 inches, makes it hard to carry for a petite person. After an unsuccessful search, I settled for a case from Booq, LLC. The case wasn't the form factor I wanted, but it had plenty of room for accessories and an optional fitted insert for extra protection. While my previous case held a mouse, the power supply, plus a few papers, my needs had expanded with the upgraded machine. Now I also wanted room for my iPod, earphones, various USB dongles, and an extra battery. It is not easy choosing a case from pictures on the Web and I was mildly dismayed upon receiving my Folee XM. It was a bit large and oddly designed. As it turns out, this is a good thing; it's designed as a messenger bag and not a briefcase.

First, I inspected the handle, which is round and easy to wrap my small fingers around. The wide shoulder strap is well secured to the bag, and includes a nicely padded moveable section to protect your shoulder. One strap end is secured with Velcro. That made me nervous, but as it turns out, it is very strong. I don't know why it is Velcro, because it isn't very adjustable, as the Velcro is only about two inches long. I suppose a larger person might find it useful.

robust straps

The strap is the only complaint I have after using the bag for two months. Although comfortable, it can only be made longer, not shorter. Both the strap and handle are attached off-center on opposite sides and that took a little getting used to, but actually helps when carrying a fully loaded bag. If you're wondering why I spend so much space discussing the handle, than you've never seen the result after a handle breaks. It's not pretty when one corner of your machine is crushed in a fall and I've seen a few of those wander into my local Apple store. I sincerely doubt the Folee XM's handle or strap would ever break.

walk-in closet on your shoulder

The Folee XM is exceptionally well-made and fully padded with 1" high-density foam on all sides. I rather think even a handle accident wouldn't affect a PowerBook nestled within. In addition to the padded linings, almost every pocket is also padded. This is where it becomes hard to describe the bag, because the pockets are so numerous, it's like having a walk-in closet on your shoulder. Let me make a list for you from side to side.
  • Outside unlined zipper pocket for papers and thin items.
  • Main PowerBook pocket, complete with a "structurally rigid three-sided frame," lined with soft cloth, and 1/2" padding sewn in that fully encloses the machine with or without a sleeve.
  • A third zippered pocket next to the machine's space, includes a zippered netted pocket, an open pocket, and four Velcro closing pockets, suitable for iPods, phones, cameras, or whatever else attaches to your body. Also inside is an open pocket with bottom padding in the middle and on the other side 3 slip-in pockets without padding, and yet another medium-sized open pocket. Are you getting the walk-in closet idea yet? There's still more!
  • On the outside of the bag is a magnetic closure flap that sports another zipper pocket deep enough for CD media.
  • Inside the flap are 2 more easily accessible padded pockets, penholders, and even a slip in area for last minute items.
  • On each side of the carrying strap is a soft-lined, zippered pocket with an earphone grommet. Alas, these pockets are not padded.
That's 20 pockets folks, not counting the penholders. If this bag doesn't meet your needs, you're not carrying enough. Weighing in at 3.2 lbs, I thought the bag would be too heavy, but its design makes it seem lighter, especially when fully loaded. The bag is nylon and does not scratch easily either. It isn't a quick carry bag, but it certainly is perfect when you need all your work and peripherals with you. The only missing feature is feet that would keep it off the floor.

The bag is 16.2" x 13.9" x 7.0" and only comes in black. The Folee XS is a similar bag designed for 12" PowerBooks. The XM is available only from Booq's site, and is presently backordered. It is worth the wait though.

Editor's Note: Rating changed July 2006, after reviewing many more bags. Personally, I think the Folee XM is significantly better than many other bags.

by ilene hoffman, Reviews Editor


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