Once I realized I would be dragging my laptop with me nearly everywhere, the question became what to carry it in. My spacious messenger bag didn't offer the necessary protection. A nearby Staples offered an appealing, but ultimately temporary solution, the $45 Icon single- shoulder carrying case. After bending my spine sideways and coming apart, literally, at the seams, it is living out its early retirement as a cat mattress on my living room floor. A Google search for "laptop backpack" yielded 106,000 results. Fortunately, eBags.com, one of the paid ads on the page, provided a comprehensive listing of offerings from 40 different manufacturers. It was here that I found the BackOffice. Not a modified general-purpose backpack, the BackOffice is clearly designed for laptop transport. It is divided into three primary compartments. It closes with a sturdy plastic clasp and opens from the center, so that it can lay flat on a tabletop and unfold to about three feet in length. The largest, center compartment holds the computer. Its inside surface is rubberized to be non-slip, and there are two removable rubber feet towards the back to create an incline. The nylon lid of this compartment zips 3/4 of the way around, remaining secured in the back, so that it may be raised, and the computer can be operated without being removed. It also allows you to quickly slip the computer in and out of the case without opening the entire pack. The inside of the compartment's lid is lined with twelve CD-sized slots for media. This main compartment is large enough to carry a 15'' Mac PowerBook, and by the time you read this, a larger, 17''-suitable model should be available. The exterior of the main compartment also contains a zippered pocket for documents. The two smaller compartments extend to either side, and they are large enough to fit a Digidesign Mbox in one and a Lacie D2 firewire hard drive in the other. There is enough room left in each to distribute all the necessary cables and power supplies. One of the small compartments has a zippered pocket outside-the other has miniature pockets for pens and pencils. For the engineer traveling to client's homes for overdubs, the entire studio can fit on your back. The shoulder straps are wide and comfortable. They are at an angle that makes the pack tend to slip a bit when not pulled tight, but the adjustment clasps don't slip easily once set. Behind the straps is a larger storage pocket, and the straps themselves can be hidden away in a compartment of their own for those moments when you don't want to look like you just rolled in off campus. A solid rubber handle on top allows for briefcase-style carrying. There are metal rings on the top corners that allow for the attachment of a single-shoulder strap (sold separately for $10) for those looking forward to years of chiropractic therapy. The only thing the BackOffice lacks is a small, easy-to-reach outside pocket for things like keys, ID, iLoks, etc. At $150, it isn't cheap, but it's a fraction of the cost of so-called "executive" backpacks. It is extremely well built, and the heavy-duty nylon manages to resist the errant fur produced by two dogs and six cats. ($150 MSRP; www.sjdesign.com)

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