A month ago I received some cases for review from Gary Waterfield of
WaterField Designs . The first of these is
the Racer-X – a compact (14.5 x 11 x 4in) and fairly minimalist case designed to
accommodate the Apple Powerbook G4, plus a small amount of other stuff. The
Racer-X is made from a mixture of materials: the exterior is ballistic nylon and
the interior is gold-yellow coloured nylon, there is elasticized material for
the interior pockets and soft grey nylon over neoprene in the Powerbook
compartment. Also giving structure and strength to the Powerbook section is some
corrugated plastic. Empty it weighs 2.6 lbs.
I found the external appearance to be attractive; interesting, but reasonably
conservative – the section just to the left of the WaterField Logo in the photo
is the part that defines the colour. My sample was a grey zigzag pattern with
some red piping. There are six other styles to choose from and these can be
viewed at Gary’s website.
When closed the bag is neat and compact. These external views show some
bulging of the sides, but that is probably because I’ve put too much stuff in
the case. Even so, I took it – packed as described below – on a flight last week
and it was just perfect for tucking under the seat in front of me. Even in
economy it still left some space for my feet.
With the main compartments open you can just see the TiBook on the left and
lots of my other junk on the right. The two compartments are sealed with two
heavy-duty plastic zippers and both fasteners have nylon pulls.
Also, you can see that beautiful loud interior the bright gold-yellow nylon
looks great, and also is perfect for finding that long lost stick of gum, staple
or perhaps that tiny rubber foot that keeps falling off the Powerbook.
The pockets at the back of the accessory compartment are elasticized and have
little tabs at the top. The elastic material is very beefy and looks like it
won’t permanently deform.
This view of the empty bag shows the five pockets of varying sizes. You can
get a cell phone, PDA, some CDs passport, tickets … all the usual stuff in
there, no problem. There is also a magazine pocket on the rear of the case.
As the picture shows, for a compact bag the Racer-X takes a fair amount of kit:
Besides the obvious you see an NR70V in its case, and above it is a Smartdisk
firelight hard drive. The small case at the bottom left is an accessory case
that Gary Waterfield sent me. This case; “The Gearpouch” is not included in the
cost of the Racer-X but is worth having as its just right for tidying-up cables,
Having spent a small fortune on your new Ti-Book you obviously want to
protect it. This case does just the job. The light grey stuff adjacent to the
Powerbook is a sort of soft and “furry” nylon. The kind of material you might
get inside the collar of a winter jacket. This fits snugly around the Powerbook
and there is even a “lip” of this stuff, backed by foam between the Powerbook
and the zippers.
Behind the soft foam and the furry stuff is a suspension cradle made of what
looks – and smells – like neoprene and in turn this cradle hangs in a stout box
of corrugated plastic. In the following picture I’ve pulled the cradle out so
that you can see it properly.
The handle is a mountain bike grip – from Wilderness Trail Bikes if I’m not
mistaken – and is positioned more-or-less over the centre of gravity of the
This handle makes for very, very comfortable carrying. Whilst being fairly
structured it’s also nicely “squishy” and absorbs shocks pretty well. Critically,
the Racer-X handle is the same shape no matter how much stuff is in the bag.
Sounds obvious, but many lesser bags have handles that are deformed by heavy
loads. Furthermore, when there is a pair of handles the extra burden of
squeezing them together makes one’s hands tire quickly.
The metalwork appears to be black anodized, or painted with some pretty tough
paint. At any rate it so far shows no signs of scratching.
The shoulder strap has a pad that is rubberized on one side. This provides a
little grip, but most importantly it acts as a very effective shock absorber.
A final detail; the logo – and very nice it is too:
I’ve used the Racer-X over the last month for both work at my University and on
a lecturing trip overseas. The bag has only a few minor problems, and even these
may be just points of personal preference.
In the picture below my left hand is holding the cover of the accessory
compartment. This cover is padded adequately but is not structured by the
addition of any hard plastic (like the rest of the bag). So, if you throw some
chunky stuff (like a power adapter or power plug) into the space in front of the
accessory pockets it tends to push out / distort the front of the bag. Besides
the addition of this hard plastic, a way of dealing with this might be to add
more pockets on the inside of the accessory compartment cover. These pockets
would shift the “bulk” of the contents higher up in the bag.
Another issue is that while the big elasticized pockets can obviously carry
pens, some dedicated pen loops would be handy.
A very well-designed, stylish and attractive case. If you just want a bag for
the Powerbook plus a few bits and pieces this is a good choice.
Price: $129.00 (including shoulder strap), Medium
Loud yellow interior
Excellent protection for the G4
Great build quality
Can carry lots of gear for such a compact bag
Accessory compartment cover lacks structure
Could do with some pen pockets, and perhaps more pockets generally