Thursday, February 18, 2010

5 Recommendations for the Olympics Organizers

1. Get the commentators from snowboarding to do figure skating, just to spice things up a little. Instead of the Peggy Fleming *gasp* at a competitor's mistake, we could hear a comment like, "that dude biffed." When I heard a snowboarding commentator remark "that dude went down," I had to rewind it just to make sure I heard correctly. It cracked me up!

2. Competitions like snowboard cross and the speedskating relay, where multiple competitors are going head-to-head on the same course and risk wiping each other out, are much more exciting than individuals competing for a score or time. Create more events like that.

3. Use even more computer graphics to help us compare each competitor against the "gold standard" in height, distance, form, etc. We want to be awed, but it's hard when we aren't expert enough to spot the key differences that separate the participants from the podium.

4. Update the commentators' garb and hair styles, especially Bob Costas's. The suit and tie with the Ken doll plastic-mold hair just do NOT fit with the Winter Olympics style. Maybe bring in Ralph Lauren as a consultant.

5. Speaking of Ralph Lauren, do NOT let him put hats on the American team any more. The knit caps with the moose on them? I would love to have heard the muttered remarks among the American snowboarders about those hats! Wonder what Stacy and Clinton have to say about them. Yet I hear people have been paying as much as $400 to get their hands on one of those goofy toques. I'm not one of them and I won't apologize for it. Not to mention, it was 70 degrees inside the stadium where the opening ceremony was held, yet another reason why I was very surprised how many U.S. Olympians kept the hats on. But to give credit where due, I do think Ralph did a commendable job on the snowboarder's outfit that looked like faded jeans with a plaid flannel shirt.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Review: The Best Rolling Cases for 17” Laptops

If you’re one of the many people who has chosen a larger-sized laptop, and you don’t have the strength and endurance of a Sherpa, you’ve probably been shopping for a rolling laptop case. Unfortunately, many bags on the market are not large enough to hold a 17” laptop, and those that are large enough are often too unwieldy to be carried when necessary. This makes shopping for a suitable bag a real chore.

After sorting through the features and customer reviews of dozens of bags, we finally found three great options. These three bags have met all of our criteria for size all hold a 17” laptop yet still fit into airplane overhead compartments jets and beneath seats; ease of handling in both rolling and carrying modes; and features – all feature durable nylon fabric, zip-down front organizer pocket, padded laptop compartment, high-quality wheels, sturdy 36” telescoping handle with multiple lock-in settings, and good warranties. Only those features that vary significantly between models are called out in the descriptions below. These rolling laptop cases are well worth their price ($70-120), but shop around as prices can vary as much as $50 from one store to another. Also, be sure to confirm the model number and specifications before buying, because each manufacturer makes several similar-but-different bags with similar names.

Kensington Contour 17” Rolling Laptop Case - model 62348

  • BEST FOR: ease of carrying
  • Dimensions: 13” H x 17.5” W x 9.5” D
  • Weight: 7.4 pounds
  • Ratings: over half of 131 Amazon buyers gave this bag 5 out of 5 stars
  • Body-hugging contour panel on carrying case and weight distribution system reduce shoulder fatigue by 35% when carrying
  • Shock-absorbing shoulder strap resists slipping
  • 4 main pockets: Zip-down front organizer pocket, quick-access pocket for travel documents; third pocket holds books/papers; fourth pocket holds laptop
  • Expandable utility pockets on the sides for water bottles

Targus XL Rolling Laptop Case - model TXL717

  • BEST FOR: everyday rolling
  • Dimensions: 16” H x 19” W x 8.5” D
  • Weight: 8 pounds
  • Ratings: over half of 300 Amazon buyers gave this bag 5 out of 5 stars
  • 3 pockets. Zip-down front organizer pocket; middle laptop pocket; third pocket holds books/papers
  • Two removable accessory pouches for cords and small electronics

Wenger / Swissgear Patriot Wheeled Case with Removable Notebook Case – model WA-7953-02F00

  • BEST FOR: travel rolling
  • Dimensions: 15.5” H x 17” W x 12” D (if not overloaded, fits under airplane seats except commuters)
  • Weight: 10.1 pounds
  • Ratings: half of 20 Amazon buyers gave this bag 5 out of 5 stars
  • Trolley strap keeps bag in place atop a rolling suitcase.
  • 5 pockets. Zip-down front organizer pocket; quick-access pocket for travel documents; third pocket is a mini filing cabinet divided into three sections; fourth pocket holds the laptop (includes a removable case that only fits a 15.4” laptop and must be removed to hold a 17” laptop); fifth is a spacious overnight compartment for a change of clothes.

Still not sure which of these three rolling laptop cases is best for you? Do a web search for the brand and model number to see pictures and read reviews; Amazon and eBags are two good sites to use.

The only drawback on these three rolling laptop cases is color: they only come in black. If you must have color, check out the CalPak Persuader 2; it didn’t quite qualify for the top 3, but it does come in red, blue, orange, and green.