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Monolith improvements

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    Monolith improvements

    <i>Please, please, please consider this request!</i>

    The <b>ONLY</b> thing holding me back from buying a <a href="http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=TB0330&Categ ory_Code=300&Product_Count=6">Monolith</a> and telling all of my friends to do so too is that it has no pocket(s) to hold the power supply or a couple of accessories.

    I know that Tom hasn't added that to the Monolith because he thinks people won't need it if it's usually used inside another bag. I say that's flawed logic because what I want to use the Monolith in any backpack but be able to quickly pull the laptop+power supply out in one motion. At work or a meeting, I could carry just the Monolith with me since it could also have the power supply too. The vertical format is not a problem for me, and I am not particularly tall (5'10"). Yeah, for long distances, I'd prefer not to carry it alone in the vertical format, but for short distances within my workplace or from the car to a building, that would not be a problem. When I'm ready to travel home, I would just through the Monolith back into the backpack and go. In fact, I think a Monolith with a pocket or two would be the most versatile and protective slim laptop case available anywhere.

    It seems so obvious that the Monolith should have the same pocket on its side that that <a href="http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=001&Product_Co de=TB0300">Brain Cell</a> has. They're both designed to be used inside other bags, and the pockets do not add much bulk when they are empty. I don't know how often I'd use it, but having D-rings on the Monolith would be a nice addition because it would give me the option of attaching a shoulder strap. What we consumers want are the options to make our own choices about how to use the bag. You did an excellent job in achieving that with the Brain Cell but for some reason have remained stubborn on doing the same for the Monolith. Basically, the Monolith and Brain Cell should be exactly the same except for the orientation of the padding, opening, and handles. Take a look at how Waterfield markets its <a href="http://www.sfbags.com/PRODUCTS/SC_INFO/sc.htm">SleeveCase</a> by giving the customer options: horizontal vs vertical, pocket, D-rings, and the type of opening (flap or not; I would suggest always having a flap but offer velcro vs zipper).

    By the way, as for zipper vs. velcro for securing the top, I prefer the zipper because it's so much quieters than velcro. If you're in a meeting or presentation, no one wants to hear the loud sound of velcro. Thus, I'd recommend keeping the zipper of the Monolith and perhaps make it waterproof and softer like the <a href="http://www.acmemade.com/images/bags_img_large06.jpg">Acme Slim bag</a>. That would eliminate the risk or scratching. Another very useful change would be having a light-colored (like yellow) interior for all of your bags, including the Brain Cell and Monolith. It's so much easier to see things like pens if it's not so dark in the bag.

    For about 3 years now, I have been "holding out" on buying a good laptop sleeve because I want a hard-sided vertical one with at least one pocket. Previously, Willowdesign offered exactly that with several <a href="http://www.willowdesign.com/Willow2004cSALE.html#15PowerBook">SlipCase bags</a>, but they have gone out of business are not making them anymore. Trager too had a vertical model of its <a href="http://www.tombihn.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=TR840R&Categ ory_Code=TRP&Product_Count=3">Transporter</a>, but it is too bulkly for today's slimmer notebooks. The <a href="http://www.booqbags.com/Search.bok?category=Laptop%20Sleeves">Booq PowerSleeves </a> are, I think, the best option out there right now, but I have not bought one due to their lack of hard-sided protection. Acme will be coming out with a vertical version of their <a href="http://www.acmemade.com/bags.html">Slim bag</A> sometime this fall. When that happens, they will have the only vertical hard-sided shell with a pocket. Their bags are very expensive, though. You have an opportunity here to simply add a pocket to the Monolith with very little increase in its cost and are best poised to fill this gap in the market.

    Thank you,
    Brian Shiro
    with pocket(s), perhaps like the Brain Cell?
    with D-rings and shoulder strap option?
    with top closure via splashproof zippers?
    with top closure via velcro?
    Last edited by brianshiro; 10-11-2004, 09:42 AM.

    I don't have the Monolith myself only the Braincell but on ALL the pictures I've seen of the Monolith it does have D-rings (or whatever those shoulder strap connectors are called). I'll agree on that adding a pocket to the monolith as the Braincell has would be a good idea.
    But when it comes to the lighter inside lining I think that is ridiculous, the whole point of the Braincell/Monolith is that on the inside you will ONLY have your laptop, otherwise you risk scratching or destroying your laptop. Hence if you can't find your laptop inside your braincell/monolith you've got to choose a smaller model or stop using it on a PDA
    I'll add that the "waterproof" zipper they use on the front of the ID would be great on the monolith...

    If you are not part of the solution you are part of the precipitate!


      Doh! on the D-rings request

      Thanks for the reply Cobos. I don't know what I was thinking when I wrote about the D-rings. You're right that they are in all of the pictures. However, it is not listed as a feature in any of the text.

      As for having a light liner color, I'll admit that it's probably not necessary, but why not just have it and offer that added attention to detail. <B>IF</b> you did put other things in there, <B>THEN</B> it would make it easier to see them. Whether anyone actually does that shouldn't matter. For example, say I'm at a conference and want a slim bag to carry around with me during the day. I could just leave the laptop in my hotel room (locked up, of course) and use the Monolith on it's own. In that case, there could be loose things in the bag.

      This gets back to what I was saying about offering more choice. I don't want the manufacturer to decide or assume how I'm going to use the bag. By adding a pocket and having a lighter color inside, that sends a message that the customer can do more with the bag.

      ... Anyway, the liner thing was only added as an after thought, and it's really not important.



        I'll admit that I hadn't thought of the leaving notebook in hotelroom and using bag a "conventional" bag scenario (see I can even admit mistakes when you DO get an advantage from the lighter innards. But I think if I should be honest that my main concern is that I think the black/dark lining turns the bag into a cool black hole, especially for my black IBM X40.
        And of course with a product matrix for just the braincell of 36 products (with 6 colors and 6 sizes) adding another 36 options for dark and white lining seems a bit too much...
        Quoted from the text on the monolith page: "If you already have a favorite backpack, chances are the Monolith will fit inside of it too. Unlike its landscape cousin, the Brain Cell, the portrait Monolith has no exterior pocket, though it does have attachments for a shoulder strap. The Monolith closes"

        (I was sure I had actually read about the shoulder straps somewhere )

        If you are not part of the solution you are part of the precipitate!


          The Monolith, like the Brain Cell, was designed for use inside other bags, specifically our bags. Because of it's horizontal orientation, the Brain Cell lends itself well to being also used on its own, hence adding a pocket and should strap attachments was a natural. The Monolith, by contrast, is so tall/long that when carried on its own (by people under about 6'4") it tends to knock about the knees; most people think it looks goofy when used as a shoulder bag. We did add "D" rings to the Monolith, as this added very little to the weight/bulk/cost of the bag and satisfied those who do occasionally carry it alone.
          Re: Pocket on the Monolith. Your logic here is good and I am willing to make a Monlith for you as a test prototype - please let me know which size and color Monolith you would like. By the way, adding a pocket may seem like an inexpensive addition, but the stretch mesh we use is quite costly and also difficult to work with. We indeed could just make the pocket from our normal fabric, but then it is a flat pocket and useful for perhaps a magazine and nothing more.
          Re: Spash-proof zippers. The rub as it were with "splash-proof" zippers is that they are sewn into a bag with the hard plastic teeth of the zipper facing in, where they might potentially scratch the laptop. They are also harder to open & close and way more expensive. We decided to use them on our ID and our Smart Alec bags because their advantages in those applications outweighed these disadvantages.
          Last edited by Tom Bihn; 10-11-2004, 10:35 AM.



            Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I understand all of the reasons you decided to make the Monolith the way it is. I just don't agree with them. Just because you and a few others think it looks funny or is uncomfortable to carry alone doesn't mean everyone does, and I think you might not have considered that it might be used alone on shorter duration spans (from the car, within an office, etc) rather than all of time. I think the Brain Cell and Monolith serve identical purposes and probably see very similar usages (i.e., % time used alone vs. in another bag).

            You're right that I did assume adding a pocket to the Monolith would have little impact on cost. Having never seen a Brain Cell in person, I guess I didn't realize how expensive the mesh might be. I think the expanding mesh is a good thing, but it's a novel feature that isn't a huge selling point. Even a pocket capable of handling a similar volume made out of another material shouldn't take up much extra room at all if it is empty - it just won't look elegant because it would be loose.

            Now that you mentioned having a pocket out of the regular nylon material, I think that would be an excellent idea in addition to the expanding one. It would add essentially no bulk and would let someone carry a thin magazine or a few papers. It wouldn't even need to close at the top since friction should hold the papers in. There could be one of these pockets on the "back" and the mesh pocket on the "front". Having both of these would be ideal.

            Thanks too for the explanation about the splash-proof zippers. I'll take your word for it that they have the same scratch risk as regular zippers. Although waterproofness is a good thing, I agree with you that it might not be worth much additional cost since the case would usually be inside another bag.

            I really appreciate your offer for making a prototype version for me. Now that's service! I am interested and would need to know some more details like how much more it might cost, how long it would take, etc. I would need a size 4 to fit a15" PowerBook Al. Colorwise, Wasabi is my first choice, and Steel is second (too bad Grid isn't available for the Monolith.). We could email off the forum or talk on the phone to work it out.


            PS: Cobos, you're right again about the D-rings thing. I must need more sleep


              Hi Folks,

              I had always wondered why the brain cell had the cool pocket and the monolith did not. I've been waiting to order either a brain bag or a smart alec with matching laptop protection, but even though I really want a backpack I'm starting to lean towards the Empire bag, because I know I can make good use of the pocket on on the brain cell and my understanding is that the brain cell doesn't work so well in the backpacks. Now, if the monolith had the pocket then it becomes a no brainer.

              So, while the reason given by Tom makes sense, consider me a BIG fan of putting the pocket on the Monolith . Then again I'm about 6'2".

              -- Nate


                Originally posted by Neipa
                my understanding is that the brain cell doesn't work so well in the backpacks.
                It depends on your laptop and what size Brain Cell you need. The Size 3, 4, and 5 Brain Cells work great inside of the Brain Bag. The Size 5 Brain Cell will fit inside the Smart Alec.
                Have a question? @Darcy (to make sure I see it)

                Current carry: testing new potential materials in the form of Original Large Shop Bags.


                  It depends on your laptop and what size Brain Cell you need. The Size 3, 4, and 5 Brain Cells work great inside of the Brain Bag. The Size 5 Brain Cell will fit inside the Smart Alec.
                  Thanks Darcy! I didn't realize the size 4 Brain cell would fit. If I'm reading that right it means the 15" Al Powerbook fits in the Brain bag using a brain cell.


                  -- Nate



                    Any feedback on the prototype we sent to you?