No, I didn't buy a new laptop or gadget. I got something even better...
Shira hates to go backpack shopping with me. You'd think I was picking a child to adopt. I spent way more time deciding what pack to buy, than say, if I should marry her. Or buy a house. Or a car. Those are easy decisions.
A backpack, on the other hand, is a tricky decision. You've got to decide: big or small, expensive or cheap, what straps and pockets are must haves and which are annoying. Do I want something that more or less just fits my laptop - or something I can use for traveling and fits my laptop plus two days worth of clothes. Heck, do I even want a back pack - maybe I want a messenger bag (I don't) or one of those funky 1 strap backpacks (yikes, no).
Shira had the solution - we had various discounts at REI, and they were expiring, so we headed to them. And that's where this story really begins - I walked out with a a Jansport Agave 32.
I chose it because it seemed relatively large, but not massive (it's 2000 cu in). I also liked the convenient front zippered pocket, which I guessed would be handy to just chuck stuff in while preparing to go through a security line at the airport, or some other crunched time. It has relatively few straps and specialty pockets, which for me was a good thing. Perhaps most importantly, it has a very durable feel to it.
Tonight was my first field test. I had my laptop, a notebook, and various odds and ends in it - and there was plenty of room to spare. The compression straps worked well to shrink the pack down for this relatively small load, which is what I was hoping for.
The side mesh pockets worked very well for holding my umbrella, which was a plus. The straps and back are quite padded so it was comfortable, too. Though, my load was light, so who knows just how comfy it is.
Bottom line - I have to say, I'm pleased. The bag was a solid performer on its first journey. If you want a good, general purpose bag, I can happily recommend the Jansport Agave 32.