Timbuk2 Power Commute Laptop Messenger review: Power Commute makes recharging easy, stylish

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MSRP: $199.00

The Good The Timbuk2 Power Commute Messenger bag's battery pack charges your phones, tablets, and cameras on the fly and in a stylish package.

The Bad The famous Timbuk2 design is restricted here to one size and color, and with the power brick, it's not cheap.

The Bottom Line If you're looking for stylish bag with a plethora of pockets that can also recharge your devices on the go, Timbuk2's Power Commute Messenger is exactly what you want.

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9.3 Overall

Few things can be more frustrating than when your phone battery dies just as you're looking up directions or you're in the middle of an important call. Timbuk2's Power Commute Messenger bag solves that problem with a clever battery brick, while dressing it up in one of the best bag designs on the market.

If you're not familiar with Timbuk2 bags personally, you've almost definitely seen them around. The swirl logo and the three-panel design have been in use nearly from the company's founding in 1989 and have helped create an iconic look for their wares. The Power Commute stands 19.7 inches wide at the top, 16.3 inches wide at the bottom, 12.8 inches tall, and 5.9 inches deep. It weighs in at 2.7 pounds.

It's made of the same kind of ballistic fabric from which the majority of Timbuk2 bags are made, but unlike many Timbuk2 bags, you can't customize the Power Commute. It's only available in black and gunmetal gray, with algae green highlights that give it a "dark energy" look.

What sets the Power Commute apart is the included Joey T1 battery pack. Joey is a company specializing in battery packs, and it sells exclusively to other businesses. There's no easy way to buy the T1 on its own. It charges by plugging it into a wall outlet overnight, using your device's own charging cable, and can provide around two full charges for a standard smartphone.

The Joey T1 also performs a "rapid charge," so that a phone with 5 percent battery left can be brought back up to 30 percent in around 20 minutes or so. I found it more effective to charge a device that way, and then recharge it again as necessary, rather than waiting to bring it up to a full charge.

James Martin/CNET

What's great about how the T1 integrates with the Power Commute is that the T1 has a snakelike extension that houses the connection USB ports. You never have to remove the T1 brick itself from its weather-resistant pouch because the cable is long enough to reach nearly every other compartment of the bag. There's even a slot for it to go to the laptop compartment, so you can recharge larger devices without exposing the cable to the elements.

To have it recharge your phone, tablet, GPS, camera, or other device, simply plug said device into the T1. The T1's firmware will automatically detect the proper level to discharge so that it doesn't fry your device's electronics. The Power Commute works with most major devices that charge via USB or Micro-USB. There's no buttons to push, no settings to fiddle with, and only the one cable is necessary to connect the T1 to the wall or to your device, which makes it extremely easy to use.

The Joey T1 is also designed to be weather-resistant, and Timbuk2 says that it can be taken to any electronics recycling center when it reaches the end of its life. Recycling information is included in a pamphlet when you buy the bag.

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