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The Wheel: it doesn't need reinventing, it doesn't need any gimmicks, it doesn't even need to be rendered pink, it just goes around and around and around - like a spare tyre comically rolling down a hill. An extreme example, granted, but sometimes it's easy to over think a problem when a simple solution is available. Likewise, sometimes products can be far too clever by half and the MiBag from Exspect is just such an example.
Available in 13in and 17in sizes its ostensibly a messenger style laptop bag much like the Crumpler Righthand, albeit a good deal cheaper with a price tag of just under £40. However, clearly deciding that just being a bag wasn't enough in this day and age; Exspect has added "a twist" by making the MiBag customisable through different colour fascias, available for around £10 each.
It's a tactic not dissimilar to that of the infamous Nokia 3210 phone. It was launched in 1999 and captured the imaginations of stupid young people by allowing them to buy cheap, ugly and naff looking fascias - the kind you find on those dodgy stalls in the middle shopping centres - and put them onto the phone.
It worked a charm then, but does the same concept work for the MiBag? Initial impressions aren't especially positive. In its default garb of black, with black accents, black highlights and a black soul it's definitively dull and inoffensive, perhaps a deliberate ploy to motivate people into buying the fascias?
Unfortunately, the different fascias don't fare much better. We were given the two-tone blue and black/red fascias, neither of which were particularly attractive thanks to the rather gaudy primary colours. And, while we'd love to report other fascias look better, we can't because the various combinations of brown, green, grey and purple also available don't look much better either. And, while you can change the colour of the outward part of the bag, the rest remains unchanged and very, very black - it can't be overstated how black it really is.
It's an inauspicious start then for a product that clearly owes more to a focus group than it does to any real sense of style and design. Fine, people may say they want products that are individual, but not in exchange for looking ugly and gaudy, which is what the MiBag looks like in its altered state. Obviously looks are always a subjective thing and at least in black it's anonymous enough, but in any other state we subjectively believe it to be a bit ugly - feel free to disagree.
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