Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Think Tank "Airport TakeOff" & Artificial Intelligence V2.0, all you ever need for your travel assignments.
For quite sometime I've been dealing with bag issues over airplanes and travel business trips. I've been using the Lowepro CompuTrekker AW for quite sometime now and I can tell you that It's a very good bag but... some concerns have arise lately has the computer goes on the back of the backpack and every time I need to take something out of it all the height goes on top of the Mac BookPro. The Mac has been presenting some bendings because of it so I decided to put my google search engine to the rescue.
A lot of folks been talking to me about Think Tank products but unfortunately here in Portugal the distributor does not have them in a large sale and when he order them you need to wait for at least 6 months so that was one of the things that kept me from getting into this brand. Although I've been at Photokina and tested them out but I really never had the opportunity to use them with my own gear.
I think this is basically a main problem to some, if not all, of us who travel abroad and need to carry most of the gear and computer and not let airline companies put them on the bilge with all other luggage we check in.
As usual and if you are a reader of the Lighting Mods blog you know I like to give you an inside review of all the things I have and with lot's of pictures and information concerning the products.
Since I decided to buy the Think Tank Airport Addicted with the Artificial Intelligence 15" V2.0 based on some other reviews and also with extra talk with some other fellow local pro photographers, I will bring you a detailed review of both of this items.
You will find pictures for all what's important on the Rolling Bag and AI (Artificial Intelligence 15" V2.0) as well as some information's I found important you know, after I've use them intensively I will bring your attention to some aspects that could be improved by the manufacturer.
So let's start...
First and before anything else let me tell you that I was looking for a Rolling Bag that could carry my gear on an airplane without having my back hurt and also not worrying about airlines companies here in Europe complaining about the size of the bag or the weight and height.
Why the Think Tank "Airport TakeOff" and not another of their Rolling Bags you may ask?
Well, first I was searching for a bag that could help me on plane travels and having that in mind you know that sometimes on an Airport or on location you have stairs and some other obstacles you need to avoid and with a rolling bag not always this is a good thing has you need to lift it from the ground and the weight will bang your back. So for this search I had another factor that was the possibility of having shoulder straps to help out on this cases.
None of the other bags (Airport International and Airport AirStream) got this feature except the Airport Security that has an emergency shoulder straps but this bag, unfortunately, is a little BIG for European carry on bag.
Now that you know why I've chosen this one here are the details of the bag from the official web page at Think Thank
The Airport Takeoff™ bag is the new standard in a rolling camera backpack. Think Tank Photo has designed a transportation solution that combines the portability of a backpack with the ease of a rolling suitcase.
* Holds up to two pro or regular size DSLR bodies with or without lenses attached
* Holds up to 300mm f/2.8 and other assorted lenses
* INTERNATIONAL and USA domestic carry on size
* Quickly deployable/concealable backpack straps
* Front cable & lock to secure laptops
* Lockable zipper sliders
* Compatible with Think Tank Artificial Intelligence 15 and 17 laptop case
* Holds up to 400 f2.8 and other assorted lenses
* Holds up to two pro or regular size DSLR bodies with or without lenses attached
* Holds 15” laptops and some 17" laptops
* Front cable & lock to secure laptops
* ID: 13”W x 18.5”H x 5.25 – 6.75”D (33 x 47 x 13 – 17cm)
ED: 14”W x 21”H x 8”D (35.5 x 53 x 22cm)
* Weight: 8.6 – 10.3 lbs (3.9 – 4.7 kg) (depending on accessories used)
* Lifetime Warranty
Now that you know what they say about the bags let's take a closer look at them.
This is the front part of the bag.
Then when you open the flap you will have a big front pouch where the 15" laptop will fit in and where the Artificial Intelligence will go. On the top part of it you will have a very small pouch to keep your business cards, some pens and is also provided with a security lock where you can assign your own code.
At the bottom part you have a very good handle that is also a good support for the bag when it's standing up.
On one side you have another very good handle that will help carrying out the bag and also helps when you need to put it on the bin over your head in an airplane. Underneath there is a very small zip pouch that would not fit too much things and is where I put all my straps and some cleaning clots.
On Top you have another very good and well designed handle and again a tinny small little pocket under it. You also have a visible pouch where you can put your business or ID card. The zippers are very strong and they have a lock mechanism when they are put together.
Although you have to buy the locker yourself. I would prefer if they had put the mechanism like the one on Airport International. I think it would have been a plus on this bag.
On the other side of the bag you have a place to put the tripod or monopod. It's like an elastic band that you can put anything into it, even a bottle of water will fit perfectly.
Here is also where you will assemble the tripod accessories that came with it.
This is the "complicated" tripod/monopod system that comes with the bag. Too difficult to attach and more things to bring when travel. So normally they stay home. See video, at the end of this post, to see how to mount the Tripod Cup correctly.
Another PLUS ++ are the wheels, man I can tell you that the wheels of this Rolling Bag rock. No humming sound on the airport or other locations and so soft that they simply roll. Amazing is what I can tell you. You even got a lifetime warranty over this ones.
The Back part of the bag looks like an armored tank. Here and under the hood are the straps for the backpack and below you have a really well designed soft plastic cover part that will keep your bag safe from scratches and bumps.
Let's take a closer look when you unzip the backpack part. First you have a velcro to hold it under the bottom of the bag. This will also assure that your back will be protected from any dirt that the bag got while rolling and also assures you that you can travel with it opened while rolling the bag. Cool feature and very useful.
The straps are attached to the bag so you won't have anything slipping while you drag it. The straps are also very well designed and support all the weight very well. You can even take it off your shoulders and use the bag as a roller and do not need to close the shoulder zip compartment. It's very practical!!!
The backpack straps can be tucked away yet remain exposed while the Airport TakeOff rolls along.
Talked about the shoulder pack now let's talk a little bit about the roller part of the bag. It looks like a regular roller. You have a small compartment on the top where you can open the zipper flap on top of the Airport TakeOff to reveal the extendable handle.
The extendable handle is a not so sturdy one. I also feel that they should have improved it a little bit. Although I think that the size is perfect, well at least for me I won't trip over it nor the bag smash against my feet like some other rolling bags I've used.
You have to pay attention not to pull the bag up by the handle or it could could break has it not made to support so much weight. So every time you need to move the bag up retract the handle use the handle on the bag, it's a much better solution. A lot of fellow photographers been complaining about the lack of quality of the handle and me too. So be careful with it!!
Another look at the inside pouch, where I keep some essential but not so important things. Solar power lantern, some pens and business cards.
I also mentioned that you have a small locker attached to the bag and here it is. You can choose your own security lock numbers.
You can even close the bag with it as the cord is big enough to stretch to the front of the bag. Miss a locking security system like the one on the Airport International where you can lock the all bag to a place, well maybe next time...
You also get a nice pouch with the rain cover. I found it was a pain in the a.. to put the cover over the bag. I also did not find it very efficient has you have a small hole on the top of the bag where the handle goes through and that makes the use of the rain cover very difficult. Also when you remove it from this nice pouch you will have trouble putting it back there nice and smoothly. I just wish that have made a system like the LowePro where you have the rain cover already attached to the bag this would make it less prone to lose and will also take less space on the bag.
Sometimes I use it on the side stretch pocket as it fits perfectly, but most of the time I will have to carry it on my pocket pans when I go to football games has space is not much as you later see when we check what's on the inside.
Before we go into the inside of the Airport TakeOff let's take a look at the other cool bag from the same team.
Artificial Intelligence V2.0
These completely revised thin laptop bags accommodate up to 15” or 17” laptops with a front pocket for cables and accessories.
* Thin padded case that will hold up to a 15” laptop.
* Front pocket opens wide for computer accessories.
* Organizer located inside front pocket.
* Removable shoulder strap included.
* Fits a 15” laptop computer.
* 11” W x 15” H x 2” D (27.9cm W x 38.1cm H x 4.4cm D)
* Lifetime Warranty
On the back part you have a place to hold your ID or business card. And have a folder pouch where you can put some more cables, paper work and other light things.
It also comes with a nice detachable shoulder strap and a very nice top handle.
On the front side you have a big pouch with lots of space to hold your stuff. Cards, Hard Drives, Cables, Power Cables, Pens, Etc. Very good and you can even use it as a separate bag to go to client meetings or carry it around when travel. Also a good feature is that you can even put it inside the Airport TakeOff front pouch. (Click on the image to check what's inside mine).
Here you can see the Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 inside the Think Tank Airport TakeOff. I just wished the sides of the front pouch would be like the stretching side pouch. This would give more flexibility to the front pouch has you could stretch it to put some more things, but has you can see it fits great.
Another closer view of the Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 inside the Think Tank Airport TakeOff.
And here you can see Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 inside the Think Tank Airport TakeOff with the bag closed. You can see that the bag is a little fat with the computer and all the things inside, but the good thing about it is that when you go for the check in you can take the Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 out of the bag and it will slimmer to the eyes of the airline company officials. Even when you go to the X-Rays you can have the computer out of the bag in no time without having to open the bag with the cameras. Nice ;)
One thing I missed on this Rolling bag was the fact that has a lack of storage space for small accessories parts. No small bags to put them in so I got these inexpensive Pack-It System bags from Eagle Creek and they work great and excellent as they mold to the inside of the Think Tank Airport TakeOff.
A closer look at these bags. They have a very well build zipper as well as a plastic part which makes the water proof. In different sizes for different small parts. This way your small parts do not need to fly around inside the Rolling bag.
The upper part of the Think Tank Airport TakeOff is also composed with 2 plastic zipper pouches that takes a lot of stuff but if you pack too much stuff there you will have some trouble closing the bag so here goes the essential and the less fat stuff like flags, snoots, gels, batteries, cables, cards, brushes, ball bungees, optic cleaning papers... you see what I mean.
Here is what I take with me on the airplane with no problem. No liquids whatsoever!!
Let's take everything out... Another thing I did not mentioned is that Think Tank Airport TakeOff comes with a lot of option patches so you can configure the bag as you please. The deeper part of the bag is the one that goes near the wheels and the middle part is the less deeper has you have the extendable handle (not visible from the inside).
Here also you can see my configuration for this particular set of things. I tend to change things a little bit when going to different assignments or even when I do not need to carry all the stuff with me. I can also tell you that I had to use some of my LowePro patches to help configure it to take all this stuff. :)
Here is all that fits inside the bag... missed a couple of things that are still inside the side pockets but they are so thin that I figure it would not matter for the purpose.
Click on the image to see the names of all the things inside.
As I mentioned before this is a bag to go inside the airplane on the top bin, so I took some photos of it's behavior inside the TAP A320 Airplane.
As you can see space under the seat is not so BIG so let's take a closer look how the Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 inside the Think Tank Airport TakeOff behave.
Think Tank Airport TakeOff in the overhead bin with Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 inside.
I moved the Think Tank Airport TakeOff in the overhead bin with Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 inside to a landscape position and it still fits very nicely and it doesn't look like a photography bag...
Another closer look inside the plane.
Under the seat the Think Tank Airport TakeOff with Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 inside does not fit under the seat on this Airplane but you can always take the Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 out.
Closer look of the Think Tank Airport TakeOff with Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 inside and under the airplane seat.
If you take the Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 out of the front pouch it will fit perfectly under the seat. You will not have too much space for your legs but at least the gear goes with you.
And you can always put the Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 in the pouch of the seat in front of you. Or you can storage the AI inside the overhead bin.
Here they are separated and you can always use your laptop while traveling and do not need to open the Rolling Bag.
In the overall this was the best bag I found to travel and take, almost, all the gear you need with you on a plane. You can check it as a normal Roller Case and with the separated Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0 your computer and accessories travels with you and can be easily access on the airplane or at the aiport.
The Think Tank Airport TakeOff is one hell of a Rolling Bag, very resistant, water proof with excellent wheels lacking for a not so sturdy extendable handle but on the overall it's easy to use and gets the job done.
I also miss a more secure system compared to other bags of the same brand, some small bags to keep cables and small accessories like the ones LowePro offer on their rolling bags, a better position for the rain cover and also a much better system to hold the tripod and monopod as for me they are not so convincing and not practical at all. Also hoped that the assistance/sales here in Portugal could be much better as a lot of products are still missing from the shelf's and the waiting time it's terrible (6 months at least).
Besides all this, it became my personal choice rolling bag for travel.
Kudos for Think Tank to come up with this rolling bag it's a one bag for all.
Hope you enjoy the review and that will help you clear out any doubts you still had about the potentiality of the Think Tank Airport TakeOff Rolling Bag and Think Tank Artificial Intelligence V2.0.
P.S. - This is my sole experience with the bags and I do not have, by any means, any agreement with Think Tank and their products.
Think Thank video demonstrating how to mount the Tripod Cup.