I came home the other day to find a FedEx slip in my mailbox saying that they tried to deliver my Sharper Image box but I wasn’t home. I had been looking forward to this delivery because the promotional literature says it will “blast your music on the move” and it’s “geared (for) new road challenges.”
I love music and do a lot of serious cycling in the summer but I find that headphones block out too much road noise are just too dangerous. So I thought this might be a better solution – something I could wear on my back, keep my “things” in and have music without wearing headphones.
Heavy Duty Backpack
My first reaction when I saw the box was to forget about riding while the backpack is playing. This is a substantial heavy-duty backpack that, for me anyway, is more than I want to carry while I’m working out – particularly in the summer.
Also, I don’t know if having music coming out of my back would be a little too conspicuous while moving around the city and I think I’d rather listen to the sounds of nature around me if I were hiking in the woods. To each his own, I guess. The ads say it’s ideal for the beach. That makes perfect sense and I highly recommended it for you and your friends and family at the beach.
Despite my initial concerns, I’m now finding that this is turning out to be pretty useful in ways other than I originally intended. First of all, it’s a great backpack. On my scale, it weighs about 3 lbs with the speakers and around 1 lb without.
It comes with a molded handle, liberally padded straps (with a plastic windowed cellphone pocket), and a padded back which you would expect from a quality backpack.
Put a Laptop In It
It has 3 zippered compartments. The compartment closest to your back is a laptop compartment that loads from the top. My 15.4″ laptop fits nicely into this compartment. There is headroom for a bigger laptop but I don’t think the width of the compartment will allow for more. It’s definitely overkill for a netbook.
On one side is a mesh pocket for a water bottle and on the other, a zippered pocket ideal for something like an AC adapter for a notebook or something similar.
The second compartment is for what I call “bulk storage.” There are no accessory pockets – just open capacity to carry clothes or whatever.
The third features all sorts of pockets of various shapes and sizes. Think of it like an organizer you might find in a briefcase. There are pockets that would be perfect for carrying computer accessories items like slots for pens, a key hook, and a pocket that closes with Velcro.
Great as an IPod Dock
Now to the part that counts. Integrated into the outside of the backpack are flat speakers. What I like about the concept is that (for me anyway) it’s really a portable IPod dock. The speakers attach to the backpack by a zipper and can be removed completely or used while still attached. If you do detach the speakers, there’s an easel to stand them up.
As for connections, built into the speakers is a small mesh pocket to hold your IPod or MP3 player and a cable with a standard stereo mini plug which you plug into the headphone jack of your music player. There’s also a mini-adapter with the 3 black dividers that an MP3 player with a remote would expect. Integrated into the backpack is a cable that allows you to connect an IPod, IPhone, or MP3 player in the cellphone pocket on the front strap – something very useful if you do use it on the move. Sound quality is not Bose or JBL level but fine for a portable solution that doesn’t plug in your ear.
You’ll need 3 AA batteries. After using the speakers a few times for short bursts before, today they’ve been going for at least a couple of hours and the batteries haven’t died yet. They’re supposed to be good for 8 to 10 hours – Not bad!
Better Than a BoomBox
In years past I might have carried a boombox with multiple CDs. Now I can carry my music on my back, plug in my MP3 player and voila I have my entertainment. I don’t see me using the speakers often while actually on the move like some of the pictures on the box suggest but it’s great for having music once you’re there.
As for price, suggested retail is $100. Amazon’s prices vary from $58 to $67 depending on the color you want and I know of one store that was temporarily clearing them out a few months ago for as little as $20.