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Friday
Aug102012

Twelve South BackPack 2 Review

Twelve South's Mac-only accessories are admired by Mac users and desired by everyone else. Twelve South's original BackPack found itself being used across Apple stores and by many Mac users for its simple brilliance. Now that Twelve South redesigned the BackPack, the newly released BackPack 2 keeps all of the awesomeness that it was before and now offers new features that'll make you want it even more. The BackPack 2 is a one-of-a-kind storage shelf designed to mount and store all kinds of peripherals and gadgets behind your iMac or Apple Display for a better, cleaner desk setup. Besides the usual, the BackPack 2 can easily mount your MacBook Air behind an Apple Display rendering the more expensive BookArc useless. Lots more BackPack 2 goodness after the break!

When we last reviewed the BackPack we thought of it very highly, and the same goes for the BackPack 2; as if that was a surprise. Twelve South puts a phenomenal effort into designing an equal dosage of remarkable products packaged inside beautiful looking packaging that make your unboxing experience all the more enjoyable. This is the kind of packaging you don't throw away. But enough packaging talk, let us move onto more important things.

Like the one before it, the BackPack 2 comes with a box of goodies that'll help you attach it to your specific iMac or Apple Display model. The BackPack 2 will work with Apple's iMac line, Thunderbolt and Cinema Displays. The kit includes a few plastic "fit inserts" and four vertical support pegs in case you'd like to use your MacBook Air, Mac Mini or vertical standing hard drives that need supporting. You'll also find a thin, anti-slip silicone surface mat for added traction with appropriate slits for when using the support pegs.

Installation is fairly simple, but can be a little confusing at first. The BackPack 2's screw-on metal attachment clips each require a set of inner plastic inserts which will help properly fit the BackPack 2 onto a specific model of iMac or Apple Display while also insuring that the metal clips don't end up scuffing and scratching the aluminum finish of the soon to become much more useful, pedestal stand. Simple enough, and if that's confusing, there's an easy to follow guide and a sheet that will tell you exactly what to use and how to use it.

The BackBack 2 can easily adjust to any height along the back or front side of the iMac or Apple Display by clamping and sliding on a rail inwards while you fasten down the two on either end to set your desired height position. Gravity and the pedestal's wedge shape take care of the rest in securing the positron so that there isn't any chance of the shelf accidentally sliding down like free-falling elevator. Turns out it really works well and feels as secure as can be.

One note that's worth mentioning is that tightening down the clip screws can be somewhat difficult in the sense that there isn't much room for you fingers to work with under that shelf. It's a tight spot, and it would've be a lot easier if only you could use a screwdriver. Nonetheless, it's merely a first world inconvenience.

Now that the BackBack 2 installation ended in great success, we can admire its solid metal construction and seamless Apple-esque design that makes you think; "Why didn't Apple include one of these ingenious shelves with my iMac or Apple Display in the first place?". Yeah, pretty much sums it up. The quality of every screw, nut and bolt including the shelf itself is downright excellent. I don't think Twelve South could have done a better job with the BackPack 2.

One of the biggest additions the redesigned BackPack 2 brings to the table is the ability to store your MacBook Air right behind your Apple Display to save valuable desk space while gaining instant gratification. The four support pegs screw on tightly into the BackPack's perforated holes and are as sturdy as can be, and are made with internal solid metal rods exteriorly wrapped with gray rubber so that not only will your MacBook Air be safe from scratches and scuffage, it won't slide off. The added layer of the silicone surface mat also helps insure your Mac is extra taken care of.

You can position the support pegs far apart or close together depending on the thickness of peripheral you might like to put up on the shelf. The max weight capacity is 3.5 pounds, enough to mount a Mac Mini plus an external portable hard drive, a 13-inch MacBook Air plus an external portable hard drive or a host of other vertical standing large format hard drives including an Apple Time Machine. So the possibilities are vast for such a small shelf to say the least. The BackPack 2 did lose the lip it had which wasn't really needed and only ended up getting in the way when wanting to place devices that took up most of the shelf space, however, another cool feature are these two side cable rails that let you route cables thru them to keep things tidy and where they should be. My only complain regarding these is that thick plug like a FireWire cable will not fit thru, which begs the question why Twelve South hasn't designed a point where you could fit plugs thru more easily. 

Hard drives, we've all got them. A few at least if not more. The BackPack 2 shelf can easily fit a 2.5" wide portable hard drive in the middle with room to spare, or a few stacked up. Larger hard drives would fit better if you prop them up vertically while having the ability to add support pegs should you like to secure them better in place. Who's to say you can't use multiple BackPack shelves for epic storage power? Throw as much backup drives as you can behind your iMac or Apple Display and forget you even have them. Cleaner workspace initiated. 

A small caveat we should point out to all of you that keep an iMac or Apple Displays up against the wall. The BackPack 2 will require you to step it back a little, about 2-inches away from a wall. It's not a deal breaker, however the change in depth is noticeable especially if you've become accustomed to it.

What got me most excited about Twelve South's redesigned shelf was the fact that the BackPack 2 could be mounted facing forward, in front of an Apple Display. In my case, I've used a 27-inch Cinema Display to mount the BackPack 2 on. Unfortunately, I quickly came to a realization that as much as thought mounting it to the front would be perfect, the front isn't the ideal place for the BackPack 2 unless you plan on putting a an external SuperDrive on it. Twelve South's product shots of the forward facing position are quite deceiving. There simply isn't enough clearance underneath the display to comfortably use the BackPack 2 as a front facing shelf for storing things like the iPhone that quickly need to be grabbed.

Not only that, but you couldn't even tell there's a shelf underneath when sitting at a desk as you normally would. Hunch down and you'll see the BackPack 2 tucked way back, away from comfortable reach as the product shots depict. Come to think of it, the BackPack 2 isn't serving much of its purpose when it's attached to the front because as any Mac users would tell you, that's a natural place where one would already be using to place things on top of the pedestal foot.

You've got an iMac or an Apple Display with some backup hard drives laying around, cluttering up your feng to the shui, then the BackPack 2 is a no brainer of a purchase especially if you've got a MacBook Air in need of lifting. It's a worthwhile add-on that is constructed to be extremely durable, versatile and pretty. Even though Twelve South raised the price just a tiny bit with respect of added features and add-ons, we think Twelve South's $35 BackPack 2 is a must have accessory for anyone looking to capitalize on the back of their iMac or Apple Display for the sake of creating a neater workspace environment. The BackPack 2 is better than it ever was, and continues to dominate the Mac-accessory category as one of our favorites.

Twelvesouth.com

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