Morning Open Thread: Geek Fashion Query

Since the new geekalicious iPad is too large to carry in even the most capacious pair of Dockers, does that mean we’ll be seeing better options for man-purses that don’t look like hiking gear?

You know, ‘messenger bags’ that don’t weigh more than ten pounds empty and/or feature ersatz dayglo ‘tribal’ decorations?

(Srsly, from my position as an Old who still hasn’t worked out the camera on her cell phone, the iPad’s e-book reader looks legible enough on the news clips that I might actually consider saving towards the second-gen version, assuming that iPads actually sell for $500 versus $300 for a Kindle. And if I were doing hour-long commutes via public transit again. But I ain’t their target market.)

60 replies
  1. 1
    drunken hausfrau says:

    It’s larger than I expected… not a problem if you are already carrying a brief case/backpack/large purse, etc., but if you are the type to travel light, it’s big! It will need a bag of some kind — bike messenger bag would be my choice.

  2. 2
    robertdsc-PowerBook & 27 titles says:

    I carry my 17 inch G4 PowerBook in a backpack. I’ve been meaning to get one of those Swiss Army bags I’ve seen at Target and adapt it.

    I imagine that 3rd party companies will make sleeves and cases for the iPad. On the Apple specs page for it, what appears to be a rubberized case already exists:

    iPad Specs @ Apple

    I wouldn’t be comfortable carrying an iPad around. It seems way too conspicuous. Carrying my iPhone is fine because it’s so small and phones are ubiquitous.

  3. 3

    It seems to me that the Apple Ipad is the perfect metaphor for the Obama administration. What could have been.



  4. 4
    NobodySpecial says:

    Thanks for that, Mr.Channel. Helps me say no that much easier. I like most Apple products, but without easy stuff like USB, it’s just not worth the coin.

  5. 5
    WereBear says:

    Oh, yeah, they said very much the same things about the Mac Air. Yet everyone who has one has told me how much they love it.

    So we’ll see if the same dynamic plays out with the iPad.

    I have a Timbuktoo messenger bag, and it’s light when it doesn’t have anything in it, yet will carry both my Powerbook and a hardback when called upon.l

  6. 6
    Brian J says:

    I guess if you really want it, you’ll figure out a way to carry it around without it being too much of a hassle. It doesn’t look as easy to lug around as an iPhone, but I don’t think it is supposed to be.

    My biggest concern is how much it’ll be to use the damn thing each month. I’m not sure if I really want or need it so badly that I will drop $500 to have it, but that’s not the big drawback. It’s the data charges. I already pay $30-40 a month for data on the iPhone. I am not sure if it’s worth it to pay more than $5-10 on top of that to for the iPad.

  7. 7
    pablo says:

    For basic book reading, I have my Sony Pocket reader, a stripped down $189 wonder! ( and it fits in my Levi’s back pocket!

  8. 8
    Peter J says:

    Why would I want it if it can’t even multitask?

  9. 9
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    I don’t want an iphone/smart phone; the dataplans annoy me. I don’t want a laptop, cause well I’ve got a nice powerful desktop.

    This seems aimed at me. I can store my PDFs to read, media to watch.

    Unfortunately, the lack of a USB is the deal breaker for me.

  10. 10
    The Other Steve says:

    @Peter J: Because it’s made by Apple and owning it would make you look cool.

    Actually the biggest flop of the iPud is the lack of SDHC expansion ports.

  11. 11
    MattF says:

    Sounds like it would be great for a data consumer— web browsing, reading books, magazines, newspapers, watching movies, playing games. OTOH, producing stuff… e.g., spreadsheet, word processing, programming, not so much.

  12. 12
    Will says:

    I use one of these to lug around my laptop and notebooks. It rocks – small, sturdy and cheap.

  13. 13
    Fair Economist says:

    It’s a book replacement for me. It’s about as inconvenient as a hardback or trade paperback and I never had a problem with that.

  14. 14
    Jon H says:

    Tom Bihn has some new iPad bags.

  15. 15
    dmsilev says:


    Unfortunately, the lack of a USB is the deal breaker for me.

    If you don’t mind a dongle, one of the accessories that Apple has for the thing is a “camera connection kit”, which provides a USB port and an SD (SDHC, I imagine) reader.

    Would have been nice to have those integrated rather than as an add-on. A higher-resolution video output (VGA, Apple, really?) would have also been good. Got to leave something for iPad 2.0, I assume.

    Niggles aside, I’m drooling over this thing. Put the Papers app on this, and it’s the perfect “read that pile of journal articles” device. With Keynote and the aforementioned VGA adapter, I don’t need a laptop to give presentations.


  16. 16

    I don’t want an iPad specifically, since it doesn’t really blow me away from what I’ve read, but I do embrace the tablet concept. You can spend a fair amount of money on messenger bags… and the vast majority of them would preform the task the have evolved from very, very poorly. Most are basically just briefcases with straps, because “only old men carry briefcases”, but “only kids carry backpacks”, so here we are. Personally, I’d feel naked walking around without some sort of bag for all my stuff.

    But yeah, if tablets do indeed replace laptops in the future, I’d imagine men’s bags would shrink to the point they’d be fairly indistinguishable from large purses.

  17. 17
    Incertus says:

    @WereBear: Me too. Love the bag

    @MattF: I think that’s the point, though. It’s not meant to be a production device–you have a laptop or a desktop for that. It’s meant to be a consumption and communications device. Farhad Manjoo calls it the “computer as appliance” concept. Not everyone wants to fiddle around under the hood–most people don’t, I’d wager–they just want something they can pick up and use intuitively. And that group, I’d wager, is who Jobs is targeting with this thing.

    I want one, and I want it badly, but I need a new laptop first–my Powerbook G4 is creaking and wheezing and it’s the last of the Motorolas, which means it won’t be upgradeable forever–and so that means I can’t get the iPad as soon as it’s available because I can’t do enough with it. But damn I want one.

  18. 18
    The Other Steve says:

    I’m not sure what the target market is for the iPud. The use of an LCD screen makes it not a very good reader compared to the Kindle or Sony Readers. The lack of Flash video makes it a not very good web browsing platform.

    It’s not a general purpose computer, it’s been crippled in that regard.

    It’s really quite a flop. Given all the hype, I have to say I was expecting something better, something game changing. It turned out to just be a big iPod touch with 3G.

    The Ideapad S20t looks like a much cooler geek solution. It’s a general purpose computer, and you can use Kindle or whatever reader you want on it then. Only costs $649. We’ll see where that market goes, but it seems to have more possibilities.

  19. 19
  20. 20
    DougJ says:

    It’s really quite a flop. Given all the hype, I have to say I was expecting something better, something game changing. It turned out to just be a big iPod touch with 3G.

    I agree. But, to me, kindles make even less sense and they’re selling relatively well.

  21. 21
    Kiril says:

    Actually, you’e definitely part of the target market. Young people just use iPhones. Anyone who wants to carry around something that big would rather carry a laptop.

  22. 22
    mquirk says:

    There’s a Russian army surplus map-carrier bag that might work well as a case for the iPad:

  23. 23
    Zach says:

    Fossil has some Men’s “commuter” bags that would work, too.

  24. 24
    mds says:

    Erm, as summed up by Incertus, Nacho Daddy above:

    Not everyone wants to fiddle around under the hood

    the use of “Geek Fashion Query” as the title, and “geekalicious” as an adjective for the iPad, aren’t really appropriate. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind you. But expensive, underpowered, underequipped, “unhackable” equipment that you covet because of what brand it is pretty much fails the geek test. Remember, the Mac was the guy who wasn’t John Hodgman.

    All that needlessly (albeit obligatory) inflammatory commentary aside, I already have this trouble with my netbook. It comes with a squishy slipcase, but I really need something between that and my regular-sized satchel. So I’ll probably take a look at Timbuk2. Though the “East German Bread Bag” that Will points to has a certain je ne sais quoi

  25. 25

    @pablo: I was about to suggest that–there are ebook readers under two hundred bucks. Heck, if you’re technically minded, you can even buy Kindle books, crack the Mobipocket DRM, convert them to ePub and read them on whatever kind of reader you like best.

    Note that one of the big selling points of the Kindle is the resizable text; having tried one out myself, I agree with the older folks surveyed here; it’s quite effective in turning any book into a large-print book.

  26. 26
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @The Other Steve: On the SD (and SDHC), agreed.

    I was kind of surprised at this – I expected it to hit the zone instead of joining everyone else’s errors.

    Putting it simply, this is still pretty much just a reader that’ll incidentally do one or two other things. Yes, some people will buy enough reading materials to justify paying an additional 500 or so for a device on which to read them that doesn’t really do much else.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve got an expectation for what we’ll see down the road that’ll shut these toys down.

    For screens, we’ll see Pixel’s Qi and later competitors. Read anywhere (even bright sunlight) color. The iPad is brilliant color, but just like the iTouch it’s not much good while in the sun.

    For layout I’m expecting to see something like what both the OLPC v2 and M$ Courier have; two screens that fold closed against one another. Each would be about 8 x 4.5 inches (or other measurements with the 16:9 ration of HD) touchscreens. When turned or switched, one screen would have a virtual keyboard for the times you need it but don’t have access to a fixed keyboard. That brings up connectivity.

    The iPad doesn’t have SD; or USB or Firewire or ethernet or pretty much every other standard connective port. It’s all proprietary and there isn’t much of it at that. I expect at least USB and ethernet (potentially g-net), and if designing would make SD and firewire (if this’ll fit) ports as well. I’d put them in the “spine” of the tablet.

    It’s my personal suspicion that we’ll be seeing SDs or equivalent flash drive units replace (or at worst supplement) DVDs in the near future. Nonetheless, the ‘new toy’ needs to be able to read CDs and DVDs for now. Whether it’s part of a secondary port/support box or it’s built into the device itself is less critical. The disadvantage of the secondary box is that it’s a secondary box. The advantage of the secondary box is that it can include a foldout full size keyboard.

    Input is pretty much critical. Being a touch screen, stylus input is possible. I’ve already brought on two keyboards. Nonetheless I’d include one more input as standard even if it pushed the price up: one of Nuance’s voice systems, which includes both Dragon Naturally Speaking and MacSpeech. The former is the best but it’s still (unfortunately) Windows oriented. MacSpeech doesn’t do as much but it’s still getting there. DNS out of the box is tolerable, and after it’s ‘trained’ it’s pretty close to amazing; especially with a noise-canceling microphone/headset.

    Notice that what I’ve done is made a somewhat fancier netbook that incidentally will handle READING like the iPad or Kindle in all light conditions, but also all the other computational things you might want to do. Price? Probably around $600.

    Ebook readers are an evolutionary dead end, and will stick around only till small portable ‘full’ computers can use the good screens at competitive price. The iPad just put itself in that same culdesac when it had the opportunity to blaze the trail instead. Too bad.

    Effective input/output is mandatory. Proprietary ports are despicable and turn away buyers. The lack of SD and USB and ethernet and firewire — yeah, ALL of those — makes this a bragging rights toy, not a tool for everybody.

    Screen. If you’re going color, use a screen that doesn’t wash out when read outdoors. That’s a big advantage for e-ink. The only color I’m aware of that doesn’t is Pixel’s Qi but I thought Apple might know of some others. As it is, just like the iTouch users people will be looking for shady spots if outdoors.

    Just a Reader. Really, even with the apps that’s pretty much all it is.

  27. 27
    Redshirt says:

    I want a man-purse in the worst way, but readily admit I’m not brave enough to try and pull it off and face the ridicule. Help us Europe! You’re our only hope!

    As for the iPad, I can think of no good reason to use it other than for a status symbol. I’m sure it’s awesome, I just don’t see where it fits into people’s usage patterns. But I’ll grant that Apple seems to know what they’re doing in this regard, so…

  28. 28
    twiffer says:

    there is no such thing as a “man-bag”. or “man-purse”. just as fucking stupid as “mandals”. it’s a bag, or occassionally, a briefcase. given how many people carry laptops, i’m suprised people are still shocked that men might need a bag to carry shit around in. and, sure, caveat, i always carry a bag, be it a laptop messenger for work, or a small gear bag for general use. phone, ipod, wallet, a pipe or 3 and tobacco, 1 or 2 paperbacks and snacks for the wee boy child.

    but i digress. the iPad is backlit and does not (as yet) support e-ink. if you want a dedicated reader, it is not the right choice. i’m leaning towards a nook myself, though it’s a bit of a toss-up between that and a kindle. the iPad is heaver, bigger, doesn’t have free wi-fi, doesn’t have e-ink and costs twice as much. not suitable for my desires (a paperback sized library to slip into my bag).

  29. 29
    twiffer says:

    @Redshirt: what ridicule? i’ve been carrying a bag around for years. if anyone ever notices, it’s to compliment it. get something like this. there is nothing wrong with admitting you need to carry stuff.

  30. 30
    twiffer says:

    @DougJ: e-ink is what makes sense. libary in your pocket and it looks like paper. no glare. if you are like me and find you are lacking underwear space in your luggage cause of all the books you tend to bring with you, it makes sense.

  31. 31
    burnspbesq says:


    Unfortunately, the lack of a USB is the deal breaker for me.

    Say what, now? I assume you noticed the 30-pin dock connector port at the bottom. Yeah, the same connector that has been used to load iPods and iPhones since 2001. The same connector, every cable for which has USB at the other end. Ask around, and see if you can find any iPod or iPhone owner who has ever lamented the lack of a USB port.

    That’s a faux issue. What’s your real issue?

  32. 32
    Will says:

    The Flash thing surprised me on the iPhone, but since I’ve read plenty enough to understand it. Basically, Apple is trying to force everyone away from Flash to the HTML 5 and h264/h256 standards, which does everything Flash does but better.

    The practical reason is that these standards are a lot more difficult to hack than Flash. This allows Apple to maintain its ability to market the iPhone/iTouch/iPad as relatively secure platforms.

    The more cutthroat reason is that Apple is trying to keep the Adobe-owned Flash standard from migrating to mobile devices. This is also the reason for crappy support of PDFs on the formats. Apple doesn’t want to be caught flat footed (again) when Adobe decides to upgrade the standard for Windows and drag their feet with an OSX version. So, the solution is to try and kill Flash and PDF dead.

  33. 33
    Ramalamadingdong says:

    Well finally someone has asked the question that has been at the top of my mind. It is absolutely vexing if you are a career woman. It took designers a number of years to get the pocket size right in most purses to hold PDAs. I don’t know what they will do about this. It won’t fit in most purses securely, if you have a brief/tote it usually has the laptop. Either way it will need a protective sleeve and those things are usually ugly. The thought of slogging through the airport with my phone, laptop and iPad, noise-canceling headphones – not good.

  34. 34
    Timmy says:

    I second twiffer. A “man-bag” that doesn’t look like hiking gear is called a briefcase. They’ve been around for over a hundred years. I fear for our future as a society if we use made-up derogatory words like “man-purse” for things that already have perfectly acceptable names.

  35. 35
    Zach says:

    Unless you’re in 7th grade PE or playing bingo at the VFW, I don’t think you’ll get ridicule for carrying a bag.

  36. 36
    gwangung says:

    The lack of SD and USB and ethernet and firewire—yeah, ALL of those—makes this a bragging rights toy, not a tool for everybody.

    The unintentional irony here is side-splitting.

    I don’t know of anybody except tech geeks who even know their devices HAVE USB.

  37. 37
    Sarcastro says:

    Yea, I confidently predict this thing is going to be just as big a flop as the iPod (half the capacity of a Nomad? What were they thinking!?) and the iPhone (no real keyboard? RIM will bury them!).

  38. 38
    RareSanity says:


    But, to me, kindles make even less sense and they’re selling relatively well.

    I don’t own a Kindle, but, I get it. It’s basically an iPod for books with some secret sauce for displaying text quite nicely. It’s pretty damn expensive for that purpose, but, I guess if you read a lot of books, it would be worth it.

    This iPad thing I don’t get at all. It is more larger and powerful than the iPod Touch/iPhone, but doesn’t add any functionality. It has less functionality than a MacBook, but is comparable in size and very near in price.

    Color me confused about this one…

  39. 39
    Redshirt says:

    @twiffer: Not a briefcase though. I have a briefcase, and it’s fine. What I would consider a “man-purse” would be far smaller, not really intended to hold a laptop (or an iPad), but rather say just the things you would need for a night on the town: Wallet, phone, keys, few other things.

    In other words, a purse. I know of no “acceptable” option available for men that would not be the source of endless mocking from men.

  40. 40
    RareSanity says:


    Yea, I confidently predict this thing is going to be just as big a flop as the iPod (half the capacity of a Nomad? What were they thinking!?) and the iPhone (no real keyboard? RIM will bury them!).

    Or, it could be AppleTV or the MacMini, or the Power Mac Cube, or the Newton…

    I’m just sayin’.

  41. 41
    Will says:


    A lot of the old European armies had similar bags. Ebay is full of surplus ones. The beauty of them is that are built to go to war, so are quite light and sturdy. The tight weave also makes them very water resistant.

  42. 42
    soonergrunt says:

    I use a map/dispatch bag to carry the crap I have to carry. Then I don’t have any stupid questions about man-purses.
    Here’s the Official Issue version in medium canvas. It’s water resistant, but not waterproof.

  43. 43
    Kirk Spencer says:

    @gwangung: Actually, the irony is the reverse direction. I’ve spent too much time with people who discover their cameras won’t connect to the computer because they lack a USB.

    Who Cares that you can connect a Kindle (for example) to USB given the only thing it’ll be is just another drive?. Only the people who move stuff from computer to Kindle.

    Who Cares that you can’t connect USB? Only the people trying to move stuff using a USB memory stick, or maybe people wanting to attach USB hard drives or CD/DVD drives or…

    Of course, if the device doesn’t look like it’ll use those things, non-geeks won’t try it.

  44. 44
    twiffer says:

    @Redshirt: yeah, something like this, right? i carry a bag the same size, but canvas with leather trim. precisely what you would consider a “man-purse”. about 10″Wx5″Dx11″H. never experienced any mocking. maybe i’m just missing it? anyway, i still wouldn’t care cause, again, i have stuff i need to carry and my coat doesn’t have enough pockets. also, i like bags. they are useful and i like useful things.

    anything with “field bag” or “gear bag” in the name is what you want, and if you don’t want it to look like it’s millitary surplus or hiking gear, follow that link. on the pricey side, but good stuff.

  45. 45
    EL says:

    Right now I carry a company issued laptop, with battery and charging cable – 4.5 lbs. I use a messenger type bag from REI which is very lightweight. Still, my neck hurts. My back hurts.

    I carried a netbook instead for a while – 2.6 lbs – and loved the light weight. But the darn thing was slow as molasses, and only had a powerpoint viewer, no presentation changes possible.

    You bet I’m buying an IPad. It weighs 1.5 lb (1.6 with 3G), will be faster than the netbook, and do things the netbook won’t. The big disappointment for me is lack of a USB port, but I don’t need a flash drive in the field that often, and I’ll work around it.

    It’ll fit nicely in a messenger or small laptop bag. Maybe even in a moderate to large purse – the netbook did.

  46. 46
    EL says:


    This iPad thing I don’t get at all. It is more larger and powerful than the iPod Touch/iPhone, but doesn’t add any functionality. It has less functionality than a MacBook, but is comparable in size and very near in price.

    It’s lightweight. That matters a lot to me. I can’t really use an iPhone as a laptop replacement, but I can use an iPad. And the MacBook I’d want is more expensive and much heavier. I’ve looked at the Sony Vaio for a quality lightweight netbook. For $849 I can get a 8″ screen, weighting 1.4 lb with a 4 hr battery life. For $1299 I can get 11″ screen weighting 1.6 lb with a 14 hr battery life.

    Forget those – I’m buying an iPad instead. Cheaper.

  47. 47
    Sarcastro says:

    Or, it could be AppleTV or the MacMini, or the Power Mac Cube, or the Newton…

    I think Apple would be quite happy if it failed like the MacMini.

  48. 48
    trollhattan says:

    I think it’s pretty clear the most popular mode of iPad totin’ will be like this:

  49. 49
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @Sarcastro: Haha, the infamous Slashdot iPod article!

  50. 50
    FlipYrWhig says:

    OK, who will be the first pundit to write an Obama-as-iPad column? You know it’s coming.

  51. 51
    FlipYrWhig says:

    Whoops, I missed that The Tim Channel above already did that.

  52. 52
    srv says:

    Tom Bihn is good, but for laptops, Booq is better.

    Once you have the pad, plus power supply, plus ammenties, you probably need something more. Something like this might be good for slates.

  53. 53

    I dont know.Strange times.When the Professor and I were talking this weekend, I remarked, however again, about how we all got email addresses my junior year of faculty, which we never used, as a result of no one had computers and you had to travel to the library to test your email. And that they talked of some so much off time in the long run when everyone would have a full gig of memory and youd have each little bit of content you ever generated with you for continually and even then, youd never be in a position to use an entire gig.

  54. 54
    Sentient Puddle says:

    I don’t know…all my life, there’s never been any sort of bag-carrying stigma. Granted, a lot of that life was school as a kid, where a backpack is a given. Then I get to college and realize a bag is still more convenient than carrying notebooks and textbooks in my hands, and then to office life, where it’s more convenient than carrying the laptop. Though seeing the number of people around here who walk on to the elevators holding an open laptop in one hand while typing something with the other, or using it as a tray when going to lunch, there’s some disagreement on this point (though seeing stuff like this still makes me cringe).

    Myself, I’ve never understood why women don’t make use of pockets. My keys, wallet, and cell phone all fit into my pockets. Why do I need a bag to carry these around?

  55. 55
    Will says:

    I don’t know…all my life, there’s never been any sort of bag-carrying stigma.

    A lot of it comes from the type of people whose though processes work like this:

    1. Women carry bags.

    2. Men carry wallets.

    3. Therefore, a man with a bag is sissy. Man Purse!

    I feel comfortable ignoring these people about my bag as I do ignoring them about everything else.

  56. 56
    JScott says:

    SCOTTEVEST is already on the job.

    The iPad is going to compel me to be a first-adopter. When v.2 comes out, I can hand the v.1 off to someone in my family. Mainly because I will be able to afford to do it. Also, it justifies buying a cool scottevest or some nifty tactical pants.

    I am not innarested in hashing out what it is or what it ain’t having already been through it all before with the introduction of the personal computer, the mouse, the floppy-less iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, etc. Done with all that. I do find it kind of weird, though, that the people who see the advantages and potential of this thing tend to be older.

  57. 57
    Sentient Puddle says:


    Also, it justifies buying a cool scottevest or some nifty tactical pants.

    I looked at the pants in that link and thought to myself “What’s so special about these pants?” Then I realized that pretty much all my pants that I ever wear have enough pockets to reasonably be considered tactical pants. In which case I say yes, tactical pants are a great decision, iPad or no.

    And my thoughts about pockets still stand, ladies.

  58. 58
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Sentient Puddle:

    Myself, I’ve never understood why women don’t make use of pockets

    I think it’s a combination of two major factors:

    (1) A lot of women’s clothing has vestigial pocket-like structures rather than actual usable pockets.

    (2) There’s a standard that applies much more to women than to men about looking streamlined and put-together in clothes, and cramming things into pockets adds bumps and lumps to your silhouette.

    (Think of how a big pile of keys in the front pocket and a big wallet in the back pocket would look to an audience that still wants to judge you as an aesthetic object. It throws all the lines out of whack. Most men care little about this. I have enough metrosexual tendencies to let it get into my mind. I hate having things banging around in my pockets.)

    (2) feeds (1), which feeds back into (2). Even if you know (2) and say, bullshit, fuck it, it’s hard to reject it too thoroughly because of (1).

  59. 59
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I begrudgingly take your points, all while a little voice in the back of my head is screaming “PRACTICALITY, GODDAMNIT!!”

    On the whole, I’d make a terrible woman.

  60. 60
    bago says:

    I picked up my Oakley laptop bag last year in San Francisco.

Comments are closed.