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  1. #16
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    I'm still trying to figure out why the Brain Cell is being discontinued. Surely it's one of TB's most prominent items. Like many here, the Brain Cell is *why* I have a TB bag in the first place. It has a very definite advantage over Caches, whose protection is almost entirely cosmetic. Is the Brain Cell not selling well? It TB out of annex clips? Are they going to get rid of the Brain Bag? Are they getting rid of the Brain Cell straps in all the backpacks, and if so, what replaces them in the Brain Bag? If the Brain Cell is being discontinued, why is it listed in Laptop Items with no indication of its status? Was this just a typo?

    Some explanation would be welcome.
    Blue Parapack Brain Bag with Brain Cell

  2. #17
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    This is very disappointing. The whole point of the Brain Bag was that you could buy a Brain Cell for a new notebook and clip one or more into the bag. The hard sides and bottom of the Brain Cell are essential to protect the notebook from other contents of the bag. If I wanted to put my new Macbook in a neoprene sleve and shove it into a backpack I wouldn't have bought from TB.

    I assume this also means that the Brain Bag will be discontinued as well. Without a Brain Cell it is not an appropriate backpack for a computer.

  3. #18
    Forum Member ceepee's Avatar
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    Since the Brain Bag works fine as a large backpack without a Brain Cell I don't see why they would discontinue it.

    Not everyone needs the protection of a Brain Cell ...... I'm guessing there's not enough 'need' to warrant keeping it in the line-up.

    It will be interesting to see if TB will come up with other ways for us to use the Annex clips and webbing though.

    ETA: I do think it would be wise for Tom Bihn to remove reference to the Brain Cell from the Brain Bag product page though .. since they're basically advertising a selling point that will shortly no longer exist.
    Last edited by ceepee; 08-09-2016 at 04:49 AM.

  4. #19
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    I wonder if the Western Flyer will be updated to have rail loops.

  5. #20
    Forum Member PaulT00's Avatar
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    I suspect that the reasons for retiring the brain cells have a lot to do with the changing face of portable computing.

    My first personal laptop was a Sony with a 16" screen and a 30GB hard drive. It was big, heavy (3 or 4 Kg!) and fragile. Before I discovered TB, I spent a sizeable chunk of money on a big, heavy Samsonite 'mobile office' briefcase with a padded central section much like a brain cell, to protect the (2.5K) investment.

    My replacement for that was a 13" black polycarbonate macbook. Still a standard hard drive, but 300GB instead of 30GB. 1300 instead of 2500, and much more capable. It swam in the Samsonite, but I got a fitted hard slipcase with padded interior for it (again, much like a brain cell). I still have the macbook, but the hardcase was replaced a few years ago with a cache.

    My latest replacement laptop is a 12" retina macbook. 1300 again, but other mac laptops are less expensive - I went for the version with the biggest SSD. It has almost no moving parts - solid state drives are not as fragile as traditional HDDs; it weighs a tiny fraction as much as even the black macbook, and has an aluminium outer shell which is pretty robust. It has a cache, or travels in my Ristretto with inbuilt cache. I did actually drop the macbook the other day - not a scratch, and certainly no damage sufficient to cause a functional failure. If I wanted to put it in a brain cell, I would have to wrap it quite thickly to prevent it from sloshing around in there!

    The trend is, mostly, toward smaller, lighter, less expensive, less fragile pieces of hardware which no longer need as much in the way of heavy duty protection. Even commodity laptops these days use SSDs, which - let's be honest - are the main reason why older laptops are less robust than newer ones. Couple that with the inexorable move toward tablet form factor devices (the macbook retina nearly qualifies on size and weight grounds, then there's the whole iPad range including the iPad Pro, plus the Microsoft Surface range) and I would guess the demand for brain cell carrying capacity and protection capability has dropped like a stone over the last few years. Potentially TB could redesign the brain cell? Make it smaller, lighter, perhaps tougher (thinks: carbon fibre outer shell?) and more appropriate for things like current high end laptops (13"/15" MBP and the like) but I suspect the market is still pretty limited. And with the pace of evolution in hardware, even something like that might be obsolete within a couple of years for the majority of users.
    A45CC K CQPC 3DCCGES25 SK SCBQKTTMCBLSB TT TSS4 PCSBSCBTT CQPC PQBPQK LT SETT 3DCCQKS19 TT P3DCCTS PP BBLCBCP TTRi QK NFTD A30DLBC

  6. #21
    Volunteer Moderator tpnl's Avatar
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    I do not believe the Western Flyer will receive the rail loop treatment. moriond had asked about this a while back and was told there were no plans to do this:

    Question about Western Flyer


    However @Perseffect has a nice workaround:

    Cache with Rails in a Western Flyer


    Hope this helps

    Cheers!
    TB Ballistic Black/Iberian Dyneema backpacks and briefcases for every occasion together with my cherished Nordic and Solar Dyneema!

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceepee View Post
    Since the Brain Bag works fine as a large backpack without a Brain Cell I don't see why they would discontinue it.

    Not everyone needs the protection of a Brain Cell ...... I'm guessing there's not enough 'need' to warrant keeping it in the line-up.
    Without the Brain Cell, the Brain Bag is just that -- a big backpack. It isn't suitable for carrying a computer unless you add some third-party protection.

    The Brain Bag has no padding on the bottom or between the back (laptop) and front compartments. I suppose if you only put soft items in the front and were careful you might get away with a simple sleve on your notebook, but I carry camera gear and other stuff in the front pocket.

  8. #23
    TOM BIHN Crew (we work here) Darcy's Avatar
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    Good questions all around!

    When we decided to retire the Brain Cell, we made large batches of most sizes in order to use up all of the remaining specialized Brain Cell parts (mostly the core and foam that create the hard-sided protection that the Brain Cell offers) to allow those who may want to purchase a Brain Cell time to do so before sizes begin selling out and the Brain Cell is officially retired. Until that happens, the Brain Cell will still be listed in category pages and mentioned in the descriptions of bags because it's still a great laptop case and it's still available for order.

    PaulT00 makes some great points about laptops and protection and where that's headed. The Brain Cell remains popular, but most folks seem to favor the Cache.

    The Brain Bag + Cache combination is quite popular (as is the Brain Bag itself), so there are no plans to retire the Brain Bag.

    Annex Clips for attaching the Brain Cell are currently included with the Brain Bag, Smart Alec, Tri-Star, Western Flyer and Empire Builder (these are the only bags that allow for a Brain Cell to be clipped-in.) At some point in the near future, we plan to remove Annex Clips from those larger bags and instead pair them with the remaining Brain Cells, as that makes the most sense to us as the Brain Cells are being phased out. Note that we will keep the webbing loops to which the Annex Clips attach in the larger bags for a good while longer; that way people who already have a Brain Cell can still clip it into a newly purchased Brain Bag, Smart Alec, Tri-Star, Western Flyer and Empire Builder.

    It's never an easy decision to retire a design, especially one that's well-loved and has been around, well, almost forever. Note how many different designs and colors we offer, especially for a company our size! Tom and Nik are designing up a storm these days, though, and some bags will need to be retired to make way for new designs (which won't always be replacements for the designs that are retiring).
    Current Carry: The Hero's Journey, Skookum Dog Citizen Canine, Founder's Briefcase, Synapse 19 (day hikes), Guide's Pack (longer day hikes), Yeoman Duffel (winter/emergency stuff for the car), Aeronaut 30 (travel), Night Flight Travel Duffel (camera bag), Moveable Feast + Shop Bags (food)

  9. #24
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    I love my Brain Cell. I got it for my 15" (ish-- it's pretty big) Dell D620 ten years ago and am happy to say that computer still works! (It can't keep up with modern times, so we use the Dell exclusively for my son's telescope software and my Zoo Tycoon game.) I keep my current Macbook in a Cache, but now I'm seriously considering getting a Brain Cell if it's still available for my size. I doubt I'll go under 15", since I do image editing.

    I think the Brain Cell was my second TB purchase, after my Imago. It was exactly what I was looking for-- something I could put in a bigger bag, but also attach a strap to on its own.

    Also, I am sad about the I/O. It is a nice camera bag. I use it either on its own or in my Super Ego. Man, everything I love is discontinued!
    Current carry: Super Ego, various pouches, I/O (when shooting). Incorporating the FIELD JOURNAL!!!! Next up on wishlist: S25 and SE (June 2016)

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulT00 View Post
    I suspect that the reasons for retiring the brain cells have a lot to do with the changing face of portable computing.

    My first personal laptop was a Sony with a 16" screen and a 30GB hard drive. It was big, heavy (3 or 4 Kg!) and fragile. Before I discovered TB, I spent a sizeable chunk of money on a big, heavy Samsonite 'mobile office' briefcase with a padded central section much like a brain cell, to protect the (2.5K) investment.

    My replacement for that was a 13" black polycarbonate macbook. Still a standard hard drive, but 300GB instead of 30GB. 1300 instead of 2500, and much more capable. It swam in the Samsonite, but I got a fitted hard slipcase with padded interior for it (again, much like a brain cell). I still have the macbook, but the hardcase was replaced a few years ago with a cache.

    My latest replacement laptop is a 12" retina macbook. 1300 again, but other mac laptops are less expensive - I went for the version with the biggest SSD. It has almost no moving parts - solid state drives are not as fragile as traditional HDDs; it weighs a tiny fraction as much as even the black macbook, and has an aluminium outer shell which is pretty robust. It has a cache, or travels in my Ristretto with inbuilt cache. I did actually drop the macbook the other day - not a scratch, and certainly no damage sufficient to cause a functional failure. If I wanted to put it in a brain cell, I would have to wrap it quite thickly to prevent it from sloshing around in there!

    The trend is, mostly, toward smaller, lighter, less expensive, less fragile pieces of hardware which no longer need as much in the way of heavy duty protection. Even commodity laptops these days use SSDs, which - let's be honest - are the main reason why older laptops are less robust than newer ones. Couple that with the inexorable move toward tablet form factor devices (the macbook retina nearly qualifies on size and weight grounds, then there's the whole iPad range including the iPad Pro, plus the Microsoft Surface range) and I would guess the demand for brain cell carrying capacity and protection capability has dropped like a stone over the last few years. Potentially TB could redesign the brain cell? Make it smaller, lighter, perhaps tougher (thinks: carbon fibre outer shell?) and more appropriate for things like current high end laptops (13"/15" MBP and the like) but I suspect the market is still pretty limited. And with the pace of evolution in hardware, even something like that might be obsolete within a couple of years for the majority of users.
    I second that, people have swapped iPads or tablets and SSD light macbooks or notebooks for the bricks of early mobile computing.

    A Cache is a perfectly adequate protection for today's computing devices. The rails allows suspension and one can place a squishy item under the Cache.

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