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ATPM 11.06
June 2005

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Review: iLugger

by Frank H. Wu, frankhwu@starpower.net

verynice

Developer: LTA Projects

Price: $119

Requirements: iMac G5 (17-inch or 20-inch)

Trial: None

“Do you always carry around a computer that big?” That is the question the iLugger case is likely to elicit. More accurately, that is what people ask once you pull the contents out of the iLugger case and it is apparent you are about to set up an iMac G5 on the table alongside their laptops. Introduced by a company that manufactures parachutes, the iLugger case is meant to make an iMac G5—either 17-inch or 20-inch—just barely portable.

I used the iLugger case to transport my iMac G5 to a coffee shop the other day, for instance. Although virtually everyone there was working away on a laptop, and more than a few PowerBooks were in sight, with all the patrons enjoying the free wireless hotspot, everyone else’s screen was dwarfed by the iMac G5’s all-in-one unit. When I powered up, I made the statement that I aspire to be an über- geek. It isn’t clear whether gawkers were expressing ridicule, envy, or perhaps both.

ilugger-1

The iLugger case does exactly as advertised. It allows a user to “lug” an iMac G5 easily enough that it can be used on a daily basis. It’s addictive. To always have a full-size Mac makes it difficult to accept the rest of the line-up, however sleek its industrial design also might be.

For those who remember the Osborne and other early efforts to make computers that could be brought from office to home, or between meetings, the iLugger may seem like a throwback. While it undoubtedly will seem primitive once we realize sci-fi dreams of roll-up screens and laser-projected keyboards, for the time being it is a tremendous convenience.

The iLugger case is made of cordura nylon and constructed carefully. The manufacturer apparently builds airships (a.k.a. blimps or zeppelins) and advertising balloons. A leather version is being offered, too. It’s a simple square case, which loads from the top and closes by zipper, with foam padding throughout (a more firm piece on the screen side), and two u-shaped flaps of nylon covered foam that protect the screen and into which the keyboard, mouse, and power cord can be fitted. It does not have any extraneous pockets. There is a shoulder strap that adjusts and can be detached. There also is a handle.

ilugger-2

Once you learn which side is the front and which side is the back, it takes all of two seconds to pull the iLugger over the iMac. The front and back look similar, except for a small lip in the former that makes space for the foot of the base. So it requires attention to subtlety to use properly. The fit is appropriately snug for the 20-inch.

The iLugger does take some care to unload, though. There is a risk that a hasty effort will lead to a damaging drop of the iMac. The iLugger must be turned upside down, with the carrying strap tucked out of the way, and then the base should be resting squarely on the table before the iLugger is lifted off in a smooth motion.

There are minor flaws to the design. The strap is not padded sufficiently for the weight being carried, and, worse, the strap itself tends to become folded, increasing the pressure of a 25-pound weight. The interior lining starts to fray immediately, where the edge of the base contacts it, and it obviously will eventually be torn by the metal foot. The sides of the Apple keyboard also are scuffed by contact with the metal foot. It isn’t possible to squeeze the keyboard down far enough to avoid that.

The iMac G5 also presents a minor problem with airport security, through no fault of the designers of the iLugger. By now airport screeners are accustomed to laptop computers or even an LCD projector, but they are quite surprised to see a desktop computer on the conveyer belt. It is possible to ask to have the iMac G5 hand-checked or to explain what it is, because it is too big for the plastic tray that is run through the x-ray machine, and, besides, the screen and the base would be vulnerable if it were placed on the conveyor belt naked.

“Stop carrying that thing; you’ll break it.” That is what my wife said after a week. That is my greatest worry with the iLugger. I wonder whether the iMac G5 is built to withstand the abuse of constant movement; never mind the iLugger, which is plenty sturdy. The power cord, for example, will suffer much more wear and tear from being unplugged from the machine than if the iMac remained stationery. The base also is subject to greater stresses as it’s carried about.

Quibbles aside, the iLugger case is a must-have accessory. With its introduction, the iMac G5 is two accessories away from true portability. All it would take are a hardshell cover to protect the screen (it could be a plastic front with a fabric slip-on back, or a plastic piece that clipped on) and a battery pack. Even once the PowerBook G5 is introduced, anyone who needs the visual real estate provided by an iMac G5 might still be tempted to have it handy.

Reader Comments (31)

Mark Bebee Jr. · December 4, 2005 - 05:48 EST #1
I would like to start by saying thank you for taking the time to write a review on this product. I recently bought a iMac G5 and like the posible portability of it. My thoughts were if I bought it, it is small enough and simple enough that if and when I moved or needed to go on a photo shoot for a week I could just put it in the box it came in or cover it and put it in my backseat. I thought I would search for an iMac case and I came across the iLugger and I needed to know more, thanks for your help. Laptops just don't do it for me like a desktop does and 20" screens are nice also. I'll probably consider seriously buying an iLugger so I can lug around my iMac.
Shai Gluskin · December 5, 2005 - 08:55 EST #2
Mark,

For routine car drives, the box that Apple shipped the iMac G5 is fantastic. Very fast and secure. Great handle. I've traveled that way with my iMacG5 about thirty times. The styrofoam is starting to chip away a bit now -- so it won't last forever.

I'm now considering the iLugger for air travel since the Apple box is too big for carry on and I don't want to check it. I'll write back here if I buy the iLugger. Sounds pretty good though.
Steven Pritchett · January 17, 2006 - 17:17 EST #3
I'm planning on ordering a 17 inch iMac this week and i'm wondering how well this iLugger would fit a 17 inch model... i'm a student and i have to fly home about 3-4 times a year and i'd like to take my iMac with me. Also wondering if there are any other suggestions for traveling with an iMac. Thanks for this review, it was helpful.
Dewey Chaffee · January 26, 2006 - 00:39 EST #4
Thanks for the info. I have been lugging my iMac G5 to work and back (and to the Apple store for Procare sessions!) and the handy box it came in when I bought it is starting to fail. I heard about the iLugger from a pal and looked it up. Thanks for your review. It's very thorough and it helped me to decide on buying one.
jen adams · March 10, 2006 - 08:10 EST #5
I love my g5 and thought I would want to buy the I-Lugger, and wish it had wheels... for the price, I may find another way to buy... a large piece of luggage that rolls may be less expensive, easier to transport, and better... I can't imagine lugging this around on my shoulder! Especially if the strap folds... I wanted to be able to take it to wedding receptions and show off the wedding pictures on this lovely 20" screen...

if the I-lugger was only 49.99 I would get it... but $129? I will go another route...
Tim Newman · March 14, 2006 - 22:54 EST #6
I bought an iLugger which I found they fixed all the negitive comments on this release except the keyboard issue which is no big deal. I have already travel on 6 flights and will leave next week for #7. I can not comment enough about how wonderful this tool is. I had always used my box in the past but I always had to fed-ex my iMac and insure it. Now I travel with my iMac by my side. I love it! If you have an iMac you have to get this bag!

Tim Newman
Owner of Greater Performance Inc
J. Lazo · March 18, 2006 - 20:30 EST #7
Does anyone know if the stand on the 17" Imac Power PC can be easily removed and then reinstalled after traveling? The Apple Store checked with a tech support guy there and assured me that removing the stand from the older 17" Power PC imac can be done, but I still have my doubts. Anyone try to remove the stand for travel purposes? ...so it will fit in a flat box better.
lenny alasdair · March 21, 2006 - 10:11 EST #8
The stand on any iMac G5 or Intel iMac can be removed though it is not a practical thing to do. You need to get the back of the iMac out and then remove the stand from it. Also i cant see an iMac living without its stand. Definately not practical for short span travel.
dmac · April 6, 2006 - 11:02 EST #9
Tim-

I will be flying out on AA from east coast to west coast, and would LOVE to take my 20inch imac with me. Did you have any problems "carrying on" your imac in your ilugger?

thanks
Frank H. Wu · April 10, 2006 - 04:27 EST #10
I have flown with the iLugger at least two dozen times, with no problem carrying it on. I cannot imagine checking the iMac inside an iLugger, no matter how good it is.
drew Neerdaels · April 11, 2006 - 17:17 EST #11
The ilugger seems to be the bomb. Does Pelican or any other mfg make a hard case for the imac?

Drew
Launchfilms.com
Tim · May 15, 2006 - 14:32 EST #12
I also wanted to know about "carrying on" the ilugger for air travel. Especially how to handle the security checkpoint. Do you have to take it out of the bag?
Frank H. Wu · May 15, 2006 - 14:37 EST #13
At airports, I always asked to have the iMac hand-checked. It was 50-50. Half the time they ran it through and let me go on my way; half the time they took it out and checked it.
MYS · July 7, 2006 - 04:16 EST #14
Great comments. Was wondering if anyone brought along a laptop w/bag (ex. 15" laptop) with their ilugger2 onto an airplane. I'm traveling to Japan so probably JAL,China,American,or United.
Eti Peleg · September 24, 2006 - 01:24 EST #15
So I just got the 24" must transport it by air!
help!
Steve Henning · March 16, 2007 - 16:40 EST #16
Usually the only electronics TSA will hand-check are ones that can be turned on so you can see its functionality like looking through a camera or at its LCD screen, flashing the flash, clicking the shutter, or turning on a lap-top so you can see its screen in action. TSU usually requires other electronics to be run through the x-ray scanner. Unfortunately you can't turn on an iMac at a TSP check point so it may have to be x-rayed. I would hope they would x-ray them. Imagine what could be hidden inside one.
Camilla Baker · May 10, 2007 - 11:52 EST #17
Have just bought one for my 20" iMac, so I can take it in to Uni over the next three weeks - roughly about 2 trips a week there and back on the bus. Purpose? Teaching fellow students how to edit footage for Dancefilm. I love my iMac. and I'm worried to death about it in the iLugger, but I've heard mostly good things about it, and no-one else does anything like it, so hopefully when I write back in a few weeks everything will still be positive!
Cedric Robinson · June 13, 2007 - 19:39 EST #18
Just pick up my ILugger II today. Looking forward to traveling with my IMac. My job requires me to travel 75% of the time so the ILugger was a no brainer. I will keep you posted.
Camilla Baker · June 13, 2007 - 20:23 EST #19
Whoo! Got through my last four weeks at Uni thanks to the iLugger, it survived a fair few bus journeys through Bath, about 3-4 times a week on a 40 min commute. And thankfully, it fits my A4 Wacom into it nicely too! Bonus.
paul hollis · August 10, 2007 - 07:06 EST #20
the new imac just came out on aug.7th 2007
so far all iluggers ive found have been for
the older models. the newer ones are much thinner, are there plans for a new ilugger for the latest imacs, or are we going to have to wrap it in a blanket and hope for the best?
Dorothy Parker · September 7, 2007 - 20:05 EST #21
Hey I was wondering if I was going to be the one to manufacture this ilugger bag for my Imac 17inch. When I came across it on the web I didn't know whether to cry or jump for joy. I still haven't bought one yet, but when I get that bundle of money to afford it I most certainly will.
paul hollis · September 8, 2007 - 00:29 EST #22
i got the new 20" imac and its great ! but i needed to take it back and forth to and from school. i bought an ilugger, i ordered it online, it came in about 3 mail days, and it does everything they say! the ilugger is a must have for anyone with an imac on the go!
sincerely, paul hollis
Tanja Maegli · February 11, 2008 - 09:16 EST #23
Thanks so much for all those comments, very helpful! I also would love to be able to take my imac as a carry-on on flights and therefore am very keen to buy an iLugger. Did nobody have problems re the size and the weight of the imac? I expected it to be too big and heavy!?
paul hollis · February 12, 2008 - 00:48 EST #24
Hello Tanja Maegli. You should be OK with the 20 inch imac, its about 20 lbs. You should call the airline about they,re carry on rules.... good luck
Tanja Maegli · February 12, 2008 - 01:38 EST #25
Thanks Paul, that is a good advise, I'll ask them...
john glasspoole · April 25, 2008 - 10:58 EST #26
I am teetering between buying the 20" or 24" iMac. I would love to get the 20" and the iLugger bag to bring it to my destination weddings. Has anyone here brought the 24" iMac and stored it in an iLugger bag for travel on planes?
Gayle Rottmann · June 15, 2008 - 05:33 EST #27
I just got an imac and heard about the ilugger. I plan on purchasing one. However for those who travel with it in the original box, I would be careful because the summer heat tends to soften the plastic handles and they slip out of the slot on the box. It may work in cooler climates but in Arizona the heat is intense. I was lucky that I was carry it very close to the ground so no damage.
tom vogel · July 6, 2008 - 08:54 EST #28
I've been using the 20" imac and ilugger for about a year and recently got a 24" for my new 24" imac - it's just a tad over the limit for carry on, but i'm going to take it to Delta to ask if there could be an exception to take this on a business trip. Anybody try to carry on a 24"?
Iv Ray · August 17, 2008 - 15:21 EST #29
Just discovered iLugger and considering one.
Dim Beko · September 6, 2008 - 05:39 EST #30
I've been using it for 2 years now on every day basis. Very convenient, durable and fashionable - everything. The staff usually I carry: iMac 20", keyboard, mouse, Wacom (6x11). It's easy. But watch this. I have to do some other work and besides devices above have to include in the bag: M-Audio KeyRig 25 portable MIDI-keyboard, M-Audio FireWire Audiophile external sound module, LaCie external hard disk, and full size Sony MDR professional headphones. Just unbelievable! I did not have any problem so far but recently found a weakness that might be corrected for future models - the shoulder belt should not be attached directly to the bag body from the sides - can be torn out in time (especially with loads like mine!). I would put the belt around the whole bag to support it from the bottom, like usually done for heavy duty racks and sports bags. And colors, guys! Can it be white, beige, red, yellow, blue? I am going to buy 24" soon and the iLugger definitely will be in consideration. (BTW, strangely in my local Apple store guys have no idea about this great product - shame!)
DH · November 6, 2009 - 20:06 EST #31
I had a different experience than some, with iLugger for my 24' iMac. When it arrived I tried it out and discovered that it was not as well padded and sturdy as I'd hoped it to be. Also, the bag doesn't have enough of a wide/sturdy base so it can stand on it's own. The iMac wanted to fall over flat rather than stand upright.

I called to return it and much to my chagrin, they said since I had opened the box, it was now used and they would charge me a 20 % restocking fee.... How can you see how it fits and works properly and is acceptable, without opening the box ?? I told them the bag is in perfect condition unblemished, unused, and is exactly like the way it left the factory, but they wouldn't hear of it.

Their return policy is crazy, with the 20 % restocking fee, plus I had to pay the return shipping charges of course. Quite a bit of money wasted for a product that I can't use, and is not up to the quality it should be for the price charged... Very very LAME...

I will NEVER buy any of their products or recommend them ever to anyone. It's just not worth it, and neither are they. There are much better companies to do business with.

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