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Osprey Beta Port Messenger Bag
In the other corner, we have the Beta Port a featherweight by comparison. With a carrying capacity of 12 liters (versus the Beta’s 20), and measuring 11 inches by 15 inches by 4 inches, the Port is a good deal smaller than the Beta itself—and felt it.
Constructed from the same materials as the Beta, the Port has the same mesh padded rear but lacks the separate, dedicated laptop compartment. Instead, the entire main compartment to the Port is sealed with a zipper that reveals a padded laptop sleeve, a lined zippered section, and the same three pen slot/five pocket compartment setup as seen in the front section of the Beta. (Also like the Beta, the Port features a smaller zippered pocket on the front flap).
However, the standout feature on the Port is clear as soon as you lift the front flap: A clear front panel sealed by a zipper is intended to hold touchscreen devices so that you can easily access—and use—them without holding them out in the open.
And I won’t lie—this is a neat feature to have. I was able to read on my tablet, reply to emails, check my schedule and other easy tasks without having to worry that someone would grab my tablet from my hands and bolt out the back door of the bus. Playing games through the screen was less satisfying, but still functional enough. It’s a well-thought-out addition, but I’m not sure it made up for my main problem with the Port, which was: It’s simply not big enough.
While the specs say it can fit a laptop up to 15 inches, my 13-inch ultrabook felt uncomfortably squeezed in tight when all my other day-to-day items were also placed in the bag. Could I simply carry less? On some days, probably. On others, I really do need multiple notebooks, a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, an MP3 player, and various other accessories, and that is simply not what the Port is for. It’s built for quick trips with few items, and that’s just not my life.
That being said, if you roll a little lighter than I do, you’d likely be thrilled with the Port. Especially if you’d like to keep a tablet both safely tucked away and somehow magically accessible at the same time, which is by far the best feature of this bag.
In the end, I think the Beta comes out ahead by a narrow margin because it simply fits my needs better than the Port can. That being said, the tablet window on the Port is a unique feature that would make it a must-have for anyone who isn’t a packrat.
This story, "Osprey Beta Port review: A bag with a view" was originally published by TechHive.
Osprey Beta Port Messenger Bag
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