Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

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November 24, 2007 • Reviews

The Spire 17″ Mojo Laptop Bag & Atom Accessory Bag Review

I’m pretty sure that at this point there is not a single person who has not used a backpack or satchel. Generally speaking, you usually find yourself wishing you had more space. Then, later on you find yourself wishing you didn’t have more space, but instead find yourself wishing you didn’t have a bag that keeps trying to tear to shreds on you. Then, along comes Mojo. This bag is quite possibly the most durable bag I have ever seen, with the most space I have EVER seen in a satchel. Ever imagine a bag that has pockets inside of its pockets? You were imagining this bag.

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A few weeks ago my grandma came to visit, bringing sudden news that she was going to buy me a laptop. Knowing my grandma is a miser, I was quite surprised – but that is beside the point. I got a new laptop, and had no idea where to put it. The same day I put thirty bucks into a Targus bag, which I figured I could put inside my backpack. That became problematic very quickly, since it added about 10 pounds of deadweight to my already 30 pound load.

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“Here’s the laptop, and me preparing to get rid of windows vista 5 minutes after leaving the box”

I quickly became desperate and sent in a plea for help to Judie, who a few days later had just the cure for my crappy case woes. To put a probably not too long story shorter than it most likely would be otherwise, she gave me this lovely little monster of a laptop bag and sent me on to reviewing heaven. The first time I saw this bag, I was in love. This bag definitely steals my Targus bag’s lunch money.

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“I was planning on taking a picture of the two next to each other, and then I figured that might make Targus cry, and I’m not mean like that”

The first thing I have to talk about is how big this bag is. I can put my laptop in, 2 books, my spiral (which is about the size and weight of those books at this point), my keys, calculator, a few billion pens and pencils, my headphones in the atom bag, my CD case, a drink, and I STILL have more extra space than I know what to do with. When I started stuffing this bag I had his distinct Mary Poppins feeling; never before have I seen a bag that could fit so much stuff in such an organized fashion.

I was having a hard time figuring out where to put everything, not because I was limited in space, but because I had too many choices! There’s a pocket on the flap, a row of pockets on the outside exterior underneath the flap, a big pocket, with more pockets inside of that, and then you have the main compartment with, of course, more pockets. To add on to this already long list, there is pass-through for a rolling luggage handle in the back with a zipper on the bottom that turns into, you guessed it, another pocket!

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This review isn’t just about the Mojo, though; I am also reviewing its little cousin, the Atom. I have the extra large version, which at first didn’t seem to be anything special. But then I realized it’s big enough to store both my power cord and my headphones with a bit of room to spare (though I choose not to store them together, as I’d prefer not to find out how durable my headphones are in comparison to my power brick).

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The next thing that really stands out about this bag is how ridiculously durable it is. I’m used to bags which have a ballistics nylon exterior (although, usually far lower quality ballistics nylon) like the Atom and Mojo do , but these other bags’ insides are just coated with thin plastic. In the case of both… cases, you have a rugged ballistics nylon exterior, and a strong nylon interior lining.

The Atom is the one which got some extra torture testing, as I tripped and caused it to fall and slide about 15 feet down my street and I can’t even tell what happened (though, my power brick got a bit chipped). The bag still looks just the same as it would have had nothing happened to it, not even the inside looks damaged – even though a big chip of plastic broke off in it. If that does not describe durability, I do not know what does.

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“Does it look like it’s been dropped? The correct answer would be no.”

As far as the Mojo is concerned, the most I can say about durability is it has gone almost 3 weeks through a college torture test, it’s been beaten, battered, dropped, bumped, and scratched, but still looks like I just got it yesterday. I have put more strain on it on a day to day basis than I ever put on any backpack I have owned recently, and it has taken the beating without flinching. There are no signs of strain, no places where a sharp object is threatening to poke a hole in the side of it, no rips or gashes, nothing, and that’s the way I like it.

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“It’s been awhile already, and it still looks great! Wow.”

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As far as durability goes, it’s essential that I talk about the protection for the laptop. The laptop is enclosed in a nylon lined, compartment with rigid foam padding. The backside of the case has a rigid foam reinforcement sheet to maintain a strong wall for the laptop. There is also an extra foam pad inside the compartment attached by two Velcro strips. My guess would be that it’s for extra thick laptops (the high performance ones that use desktop parts), however I’m using it as a convenient place to put my folders.

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“Oh before I forget, this is what I mean by a nice interior”

After talking about the construction, the next part which I feel needs to be talked about is comfort. This bag, is far more comfortable than any other satchel I have ever used. The only problem is, it still leaves me with an aching shoulder every day. I would have liked it if spire had used a gel pad on the strap instead of foam; I think this is quite possibly the only flaw I have yet to find in either the Atom or the Mojo.

Normally this wouldn’t be a big problem, because most laptop bags use metal clips, so that you can change out your strap. The Mojo just doesn’t do that; instead it uses buckles (which, are also quite strong and durable). Were the strap better, this wouldn’t be a problem, but it means that even though I have gripes with the strap, I can’t replace it. I will admit the strap is more comfortable than my Targus bag’s strap. However, I have an older Targus bag that is huge, bulky, and weighs a ton but has a gel strap so it doesn’t kill you. This bag doesn’t weigh half what that bag weighs, but when you fill it to full capacity, it weighs at least 5 times more than the Targus bag does full.

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“Here’s the sadistic shoulder strap, you can feel it’s cold stare go straight to your shoulder, skipping your spine, for the moment.”

There are also some various features that just kind of fall under the lovely extras (read: other) category. Spire provides a limited lifetime warranty, which protects from their errors during manufacturing (but you’re screwed if you accidentally stab a hole in it). The problem is that if you find that they left a giant hole in the case somewhere, and need to send it back, guess what? You have to pay the shipping. Although they do seem to provide free strap replacements if you lose yours… but you probably still have to pay shipping.

One of the nice things about the bags would be the zipper pulls, they glow in the dark. That has already come in handy more than once for me. Another nice thing is the reflective ovals on the Mojo. I often find myself walking home at night, so having the reflectors on my bag is really good thing for me. By the way, I tried taking pictures of this, but without an SLR camera, I can’t take exposures long enough to show a glow in the dark object.

Overall, I LOVE both the Atom and the Mojo, and look forward to using them until they rip to shreds, or I am offered an even better item for review (unlikely). The Mojo makes every other bag I’ve ever used look bad, and I’m quite proud of it for doing so. At first the Atom might seem like a waste of money considering it is $18 for just a bag; but what you are buying is quality, and that makes it worth every penny.

Will’s Rating: 9.1 (Ow, my shoulder)

The Spire Mojo 17’ laptop bag and Atom accessory bag are available direct from Spire USA… and that’s about it.

MSRP: $100 for the Mojo and $18 for the extra large Atom bag

What I like: Durable, huge, and most definitely attractive. It’s quite awesome.

What needs improvement: Give me a strap that won’t unleash fury upon my poor shoulders, and I might be willing to unleash my first 10 rating. Furthermore, I don’t mind the warranty only covering the company’s mistakes, what I do mind is making the consumer pay for the shipping, that’s just king of wrong in my book.

How I Rate/Review

I like to stick to a 10 base rating system. It gives the reader more information on my actual thoughts about the product, and it helps those who are too lazy to read the article. I would give a 0 rating to something that doesn’t do what it says it’s supposed to (in this case, rip and drop my laptop down a flight of stairs), and instead does something else, which it also can’t do; in other words, anything that gives technology a bad name. I call a 10 rating the most amazing thing I ever seen in that category, for example, I’d give cheese a 10 because it’s the greatest thing since the beginning of time. These bags got a collective 9.1, which is the best rating I have given to anything, so far.

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