Developer: LTA Projects
Requirements: iMac G5 (17-inch or 20-inch)
“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.
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.
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.