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ATPM 14.02
February 2008





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Accessory Review

by Chris Lawson,

Kinetik 15.4 Backpack


Developer: Logitech

Price: $100

Requirements: 15″ (or smaller) notebook.

Trial: None.

Logitech has jumped into the laptop backpack market with the Kinetik 15.4, a semi-hard-shell backpack designed to carry a 15″ (or smaller) laptop and provide a reasonable degree of protection.

For someone who follows the market—and there are probably no more than five of us—the Kinetik appears at first glance to be a slightly scaled-down version of the Axio Hybrid. Closer inspection reveals that the Kinetik is not only similar to the Hybrid, but that it’s a Logitech-branded Axio design.


The biggest difference between the Kinetik and the Axio Hybrid is size. The Kinetik is designed for a maximum laptop screen size of about 15 inches, while the Hybrid can swallow up to a 17″ laptop. Those of you with laptops larger than the 15″ MacBook Pros will want to look elsewhere.


Like most other backpacks these days, the Kinetik fairly bristles with zippers. There’s a zippered pocket in the top of the pack, one in the left side that sits between the back pad and the pack itself, and even one in the right shoulder strap. Both shoulder straps are padded and contoured for comfort, and an integral chest strap makes sure the pack won’t go anywhere.


Strap Pocket

I’m unconvinced of the utility of the strap pocket and the back pocket, as anything thicker than an iPhone in the back pocket would be an annoyance, and the strap pocket struggles to hold anything larger than a couple of business cards. The internal nooks and crannies, however, are a different story.


Secondary Pocket

The secondary compartment is quite roomy and very well designed, with several pockets for batteries, iPods, writing utensils, and books. Though the Kinetik is noticeably smaller from the outside than the Hybrid—about the same size as the two Axio hard-shells—it is substantially roomier inside than either of the hard-shell packs from Axio or Boblbee’s Megalopolis. The Kinetik’s superior layout allows you to carry nearly as much stuff, if not more, than Axio’s Hybrid.


The Kinetik seems to provide at least as much protection as the Hybrid does, though the Kinetik does not ship with its own sleeve. It does have a nicely padded integral “sleeve” of sorts, though one end of the laptop will be exposed to whatever else is in the backpack. The laptop compartment is roomy enough to accommodate a fairly thick laptop, so if you’re looking for maximal protection, you could put your PowerBook in a Brain Cell or MaxSleeve without any problems.


The semi-hard-shell exterior also provides a degree of weather protection, on par with that of the Hybrid and vastly superior to that provided by any standard nylon day pack. As I have previously suggested, if you plan to use the Kinetik in the rain, make sure you don’t match up the double zippers at the top of the pack where possible, as that’s an easy place for water to leak in. Of note is the Kinetik’s lack of a headphone cable pass-through, previously a prime entry point for water on similar packs.


Looking back to the previous backpack reviews I’ve done, the Kinetik addresses almost all the major complaints. The Hybrid is really too big for its own good, though it’s the only option for 17″ laptop owners. The hard-shell packs are all great for protection but leave a lot to be desired in terms of internal storage space, making it difficult to carry more than a laptop, power adapter, spare battery, and maybe one book. Like Goldilocks’s assessment of Baby Bear’s bed, chair, and porridge, I think a lot of Mac laptop owners will find the Kinetik to be Just Right.

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