The Snake Charmer - Fully Loaded
When I ordered my Smart Alec, I also got a Snake Charmer to go with it, to carry all of my various computer accessories. While I reviewed the rest of the assorted pouches, cubes, and stuff sacks that I bought with my Smart Alec along with the bag itself, but I found the Snake Charmer interesting enough that I think it merits its own review.
The comment about the Snake Charmer that I saw most often when reading other people's reviews is how big it is. The Snake Charmer certainly lives up to this, it's a sizable bag. If you're someone who just carries around a small laptop power brick and perhaps a USB cable or two, you might be better served by something like the 3D Mesh Organizer Cube. I tend to pack a lot more than that when it comes to electronics, so the Snake Charmer is the perfect size for me.
To give you an idea just how big this is, here's what I've got in mine: In one side I have a three-port Belkin travel surge protector, a 6 foot 3-prong extension cord, a iPad charger, and a power brick for my Macbook Pro. On the other side I have an Apple Magic Mouse (in the TB Magic Mouse pouch), a portable hard drive in a small padded organizer pouch, and 2 mesh organizer pouches, one with a Monoprice USB battery pack and cables for mini & micro USB and Apple 30 pin & lightning connectors, the other holding a presentation remote and VGA adapters for my iPad and Macbook Air. I could maybe cram one or two more things in there, but this load does pretty much fill it up.
The two separate sides make it much easier to keep organized than a single large bag of the same size would be. Stuff like the power bricks and surge protector tend to take up the full width of the side that they're on, while the small organizer pouches nestle next to each other on the side that they're on.
The fully loaded Snake Charmer itself fits nicely in the bottom of my Smart Alec. It spans the full width of the bag and takes up almost all of the depth in front of the Brain Cell. Everything else I drop into the main compartment sits on top of the Snake charmer.
In my old laptop backpack, all of this gear just rattled around in the main compartment or one of the pockets. Compared to that the Snake Charmer provides a far better solution to keeping my computer gear organized.
While I'm very happy with the Snake Charmer, I do think there are a couple of changes Tom Bihn could make to make it even more useful. Most importantly, it would be nice if the bag where more 'dummy cord' friendly: A snaphook or O-ring on the outside to clip it to a key strap and a couple of O-rings in each pocket to clip organizer pouches to. While a built in O-ring would be nice, the loops at the end of each zipper do allow for a workaround. I clipped a small key ring to the end of a TB keystrap, fed it through the loop, then fed the rest of the keystrap back through the key ring (see pic below).
The other change I think would make the bag better would be to make the bag two tone: made the two separate compartments out of different colored fabric. Not only would this look nice (with the right color combinations) but it would make it easier to go directly to the correct compartment (power stuff in the red compartment, mouse and hard drive in the blue compartment, etc).
I want to emphasize that these are really meant as constructive criticism, a way to make a great bag even better. If, like me, you carry around a lot of computer gear, the Snake Charmer really is a great solution.