Review: Tom Bihn Buzz
We’ve reviewed numerous Tom Bihn products over the past year. Many cases, such as the ID and Brain Bag are familiar-looking bags that utilize inserts for laptop computers, but can be used without a computer. The Buzz, on the other hand, is a laptop case first.
Priced at $105, the Buzz is unique in that it is a hybrid between a standard backpack and a messenger bag—a “slingpack”. One diagonal strap keeps it on your back, while the bag itself features two main compartments. One is similar to the front section of the ID—there are some smaller pockets and pen holders, while the other is a large open area for a small laptop computer, papers, and more.
Buzz Inner Pockets
Although there are far cheaper laptop cases, both products are very well made and offer quite a bit of flexibility. The bag is made of 1000 denier ballistic nylon. The bag’s capacity is 600 cubic inches, enough to hold a 12″ iBook or 12″ PowerBook, some accessories, and a few gadgets. The idea of the Buzz is not to take everything with you, only what you need.
The Buzz tackles the laptop idea in an interesting way. A padded flap sits in the larger compartment and fits around the laptop to keep it secure and well-padded. In our use, this has proven to be very nice, both in making the computer easy to remove and still keeping it secure when you’re running around town. You can use the bag with a Mac mini, if you get an eM² and put it outside of the laptop area.
Two other interesting additions include a pocket on the side for an umbrella or beverage, and a pocket along the front of the shoulder strap for an iPod or mobile phone. It’s also well-padded and has elastic sides to accomodate a number of devices. Above the pocket is a loop for sunglasses, an iPod case, or anything else you can think of.
On the topic of the strap, it is made of 1/4″ foam, making it comfortable for long periods of time. A huge, heavy-duty plastic buckle allows you to remove the pack easily if you don’t want to sling it off your shoulder. It should be noted that the “default” version fits over the right shoulder, but a “leftie” version can be ordered, too. The only other option is color choices, which depend on what is available. Most are rather attractive and should fit your tastes well.
The zippers are the familiar Tom Bihn-style splashproof design, with large fabric-and-plastic pulls. They’re very durable and easy to use.
The only downside we see with the Buzz is that the handle on the top is on the small side, and you might not want to use it for long periods of time. Other than that, the Buzz is a unique, but well-designed computer bag that is perfect for anyone who wants to carry the basics and a little more. Finally, if the Buzz ever lets you down, Tom Bihn offers a lifetime guarantee.
The One-Sentence Verdict™
The Buzz lets you take your iBook, PowerBook, or Mac mini; some papers or magazines; a few other gadgets, and a bottled drink with you without being bulky.
Pros: Quality construction, enough pockets, interesting design, all zippers have pulls, lots of colors
Cons: Small handle