Late last year Samsonite added something a little bit different to its RED range... a backpack with a kind of in-built 'air con'. Obviously we had to give it a go.
What Is It?
The Samsonite RED TC/ON stabilises body heat with an in-built temperature controlled backplate. Which you control with your phone. It's very fancy.
Here's how it works.
The thermo-controlled backplate is powered by a battery pack in the rear compartment of the bag. You have to provide your own, but fortunately we have plenty here at the Gizmodo office. To control the temperature, you need to download Samsonsite's T/C ON app and connect it to the backpack via bluetooth.
The app's interface is quite straight forward. You simply tap on which setting you would like - warm, hot, cool or cold - and the rear panel will start emanating your temperature of choice almost-instantaneously.
In terms of it being a bag of holding - it contains two main, one front and one rear compartment. Measuring 47 x 34 x 17cm, it is not a small bag.
What's Good About It?
At 30.5L, it holds a lot of stuff! I've been using it for a few weeks and it comfortably holds a couple of laptops (it has a dedicated 15.6-inch laptop compartment), an iPad, multiple phones and the other bits and pieces I cart around on a daily basis.
But because the TC/OC has such a rigid and structured build, it doesn't feel cumbersome. Even when I load it up. It's secure and comfortable - perfect for travel and commuting, as well as everyday use. I will absolutely be taking it on my next work trip.
In terms of power, I was pleasantly surprised when it took roughly three hours to drain a 5.1V/2.1A battery pack. To be fair, I don't have anything else to compare this to, but I thought it would drain faster.
The app was also incredibly easy to set up and use. It synced to the bag without issue and has a nice, sleek design. On an interesting note, a security feature in the app wouldn't allow me to take a screenshot. Apologies for the subsequent crappy photo of the screen.
What's Not Good About It?
The heating and cooling system worked fine, but it seems superfluous - the temperature control only affects a specific section of your upper back. And while it feels pleasant enough (and could even be felt through a blazer), it wasn't affecting my overall body temperature in any significant way. It was nice, but I just can't see myself taking the time to regularly charge a powerpack for such a novelty feature. as an added note, the noise from the thermo system was also noticeable, even when zipped up.
I also found that the polyester material, while tough and durable, rubbed unpleasantly against bare skin. This may not be applicable to everyone, but as someone who wears a fair amount of tank tops, it was noticeable.
Should You Buy It?
It's really difficult to recommend a $600 bag when I personally wouldn't use the flagship feature again - which is exactly what the price tag is based on. That being said - I adore the design, space and quality of the T/C On. If I was looking to buy, I would think seriously about a different option from the Samonsite RED range. These bags have similar features to those I admire in the T/C On, but for almost $400 cheaper.