Review: Tom Bihn Brain Cell

by on May 13, 2005

Laptop bags are a dime a dozen, but what if you already have a favorite messenger bag or backpack? Sometimes a laptop sleeve is a good solution, but there are times when you might just want to carry your computer and still have decent protection. Tom Bihn’s Brain Cell is not quite a laptop case, but much more than a laptop sleeve.

The Brain Cell costs a modest $50, which is between the typical prices for a full-blown laptop bag and a sleeve. One intended use for the Brain Cell is to add laptop “compatibility” to Tom Bihn’s existing messenger bags and backpacks. Fortunately, the Brain Cell can be used with almost any backpack, messenger bag, or briefcase.

Brain Cell
Brain Cell

Brain Cell
Brain Cell (Back)

Brain Cell
Brain Cell + iBook

The Brain Cell comes in variety of sizes to fit almost any laptop. The inside is soft to avoid scratching, and a bit of shock absorption. Two loops on the back allow the attachment to any Tom Bihn bag. Two handles adorn the top, as well as loops for attaching a shoulder strap.

A note on the shoulder strap — one is not included. Instead, Tom Bihn offers three types — “simple”, TerraGrip (rubber), and “absolute” (heavy duty). Prices range between $10 and $25, but you can use almost any shoulder strap you already have. Our review unit came with the TerraGrip strap and was quite comfortable, even when carrying a lot of stuff.

My initial impression of this bag is that it was very well-made. Lots of padding, mixed with a hard corrugated plastic insert make sure that your laptop will survive any drops or bumps it may encounter. Rather than use a zipper, the Brain Cell uses two padded flaps that close using Aplix® (similar to Velcro). In tests, the bag held an iBook G4 with no trouble, even when the most care wasn’t used.

To protect laptops, the Brain Cell uses a suspension system. The Brain Cell page advises against carrying a laptop vertically, recommending the Monolith instead.

The Brain Cell has a small pocket on the front, held closed with two snaps. The pocket is made of a stretchy mesh, and ample for carrying an AC adapter, video dongle, cables, CDs, or anything else you can think of.

Overall, the Brain Cell provides enough protection to make any case a laptop case, but can also be used on its own. Anyone who wants to carry around their iBook or PowerBook without too much hassle will find the Brain Cell to be a perfect choice.

The One-Sentence Verdictâ„¢

The Brain Cell is a well-made bag that does a great job protecting your laptop.

Pros: Well-padded, quality construction, pocket for stuff

Cons: None significant
Rating: 10/10

The Facts

Product: Brain Cell
Company: Tom Bihn
Price: $50 ($55 for 2XL)

This post has been filed in 'Book Accessories, Reviews