By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
The line between professional camera bags and the newest recreational photographer models continues to narrow.
Once merely single-compartment storage, camera bags sold into the mass market currently offer a honeycomb of chambers for such equipment as a second camera or camcorder, plus a variety of accessories that includes batteries and chargers. At the same time, volume bag models are getting extras similar to what the pros expect, while the majority of retail price points remains mostly under the critical $99 mark.
To complement traditional “box-like” camera cases, spin-off backpack-like portable storage continues to gain in popularity
One backpack geared toward camera enthusiasts, from Oxnard, Calif.-based SoundKase, resembles a functional bag designed for the avid photographer. Called the Camsak Photog, the bag carries a variety of cameras, namely digital, camcorders and SLR systems. The versatile Camsak offers additional space to hold multiple lenses and accessories, and fits the need of any photographer, whether a weekend amateur or an avid professional, according to SoundKase, a division of Scosche Industries,
“We designed the Camsak Photog for photographers who want a camera bag that doesn't look or feel like the traditional camera bag. It has style,” said Kas Alves, VP/sales and marketing. “The Camsak Photog is a great choice for photographers who need a lot of flexibility with their camera storage, yet want a bag that looks good, too,” Alves said.
In addition to a detachable padded MP3/CD/camera pod — that holds four CDs, MP3/iPod, CD player, camera and others — and a detachable camera waist pack, the Camsak boasts the following features: molded, thermo-form front panel with large, full-zip gear compartment; lightweight foam insulation; shoulder access film-can loops; power mesh cellphone pouch on contoured shoulder strap; adjustable interior wall for custom fit; and water resistant YBS zippers. It comes in two colors, black and charcoal, and retails for a suggested $99.99.
Naneu Pro is arming the holiday quarter with its newest line, called The Military Series. The backpack-type storage incorporates military-like features for quick access as well as equipment security. Constructed of 900-denier nylon, the bag from the Orlando, Fla.-based company comes in black and olive drab.
Among five new models in the series from Naneu Pro, one called Echo is a messenger-style backpack, with a single over-the-shoulder strap that allows wearing on the back. It is easily rotated to the front for fast access to the contents. A padded strap features an adjustable Velcro closure for ease of on/off wearing, with a quick disconnect buckle for extra security.
Echo's bottom section is designed with adjustable, padded dividers for camera equipment, while the top section is for personal gear. The bottom section's camera insert is removable, so the bag can be converted to a standard messenger pack for everyday use.
The Echo has 11 pockets for plenty of accessories, including a dedicated front pocket for audio media. A small compass also is attached, and the Echo offers a $57 suggested retail. Series companions include the Alpha, Bravo, Delta and Lima models.
Kata-brand photography bags, which combine “ultimate” protection with an extremely lightweight package, include the MC-60 — a multipurpose case designed to carry a variety of video or photo equipment.
The bag, distributed byBogen Imaging, based in Ramsey, N.J., is specially made to fit small camcorders, including the Sony PD-150/170, Panasonic DVX-100A, Canon GL-2, JVC JY-DV3000 or a photo SLR with telephoto lens. The MC-60 also is as versatile as it is protective, featuring a rear compartment for a laptop and related computer accessories, as well as numerous padded compartments for additional personal effects.
The main compartment in the MC-60 offers heavily padded walls and includes dimensions that allow for camcorder accessories. A bottom compartment includes easy access to accessories such as batteries, chargers, cables and tools. Suggested retail is $194.95.
Not all camera storage offers both protection and room for extra gear, concentrating instead on keeping consumer electronics products safe for traveling.
The Ambico camera bag from the French company Thomson offers “stylish protection” for travelers who enjoy taking pictures and want to conveniently protect and carry their equipment. The small Vision Point and Shoot model BC01V1 is available in rugged black nylon from the Indianapolis-based company, and includes an adjustable shoulder strap and a rain hood with buckle closure.
The small Scope Point and Shoot model BC01SC mirrors the Vision model, but it features a Velcro closure. Suggested retail for both models is $12.95.
Lowepro is adding a new model to its lineup of Rezo-series camera pouches, called the Rezo 15. Designed specifically for digital point and shoot compact cameras, such as the Canon digital Elph and SD-series units, as well as several Sony ultracompact styles, the Rezo 15 from the Santa Rosa, Calif.-based company offers a custom fit by using a special stretch fabric. This is designed to hug cameras while providing “superior” protection without the bulkiness of other camera cases and pouches.
“The new Rezo 15 completes Lowepro's line of digital camera pouches by providing a safe and comfortable way to protect and carry today's extremely popular ultracompact digital camera models,” said Nicole Mummenhoff, senior VP. “You can now carry a much smaller camera without the added and unnecessary bulk of other cases and pouches,” she said.
The Rezo 15, at a suggested $14.99, also is designed to hold essential camera accessories such as extra memory cards and batteries, and it offers a belt attachment. The case had been scheduled for October shipping.
A multipurpose portable storage bag from Rochester, N.Y.-based RoadWired bridges the gap between pure-play camera and computer travel options.
The company's Roadster Convertible is a rolling tech/travel case that can be user-modified for laptop, photo/video, projector/multimedia or even simple overnight luggage use. It includes an interior module that can be set up in a variety of positions and configurations — making the case adaptable to virtually any combination of portable technology.
The Roadster Convertible offers over 24 pockets and compartments, divided into “themed” subsections, which RoadWired says approach “an optimal combination of capacity, organization and protection.” Up front is an elasticized organizer for PDA, phone, portable audio, compact camera or other CE devices. The large, main compartment, secured by separate, lockable zippers, holds a laptop, compact projector or printer. It can be reset up to hold photo/video or other equipment.
Made of weather-repellant ballistic nylon, the Roadster rolls on in-line skate wheels and includes web strap for shoulder carrying. Suggested retail is $199.95.
A 14-SKU line of portable storage bags made especially for digital cameras and camcorders is new from Centennial, Colo,-based M-Rock. The bags, created to carry digital cameras — from small point-and-shoot to larger SLRs with protruding lenses — are made of non-abrasive materials and offer loads of interior and exterior see-through pockets for memory cards and other accessories.
A small M-Rock bag can be mixed and matched by attaching it to a modular belt or to the sides of a larger bag. Bags have rain-protection flaps, and some even feature a weather jacket that completely covers the unit. The modular belt, which fits waist sizes of 24 inches to 60 inches, has a suggested $20 retail.
The M-Rock bag line includes the Ozark at a $20 opening suggested retail, and it ranges up to the Wasatch at the high end with a suggested $140 retail. The Rocky Mountain is $30; the Yellowstone is $42; and the Grand Canyon is $60.
Traveling with computers has become an everyday occurrence for the average businessman. And portable storage bag makers have answered with a variety of laptop cases that fits every need.
A briefcase for the male market from Anaheim, Calif.-based Mobile Edge features one compartment for computer protection and another for protecting wireless devices from data theft and spam. The newest member of the company's Premium Briefcase line, the bag is made of 1580-denier ballistic nylon and leather trim.
Other features include contoured shoulder strap; a “quiet” front flap; padded pockets for CDs, PDA, phone and files; rear zippered pocket; and separate section for files, magazines and accessories. Suggested retail is $89.99.
Mobile Edge is also debuting a pink tote as part of a special collection created for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Part of the company's Caring Case Collection, the case is a highly fashionable, pink-ribbon inspired computer tote for women that incorporates either pink leather or suede details and stitching, as well as a pink ribbon charm dangling from the bag handles. Suggested retails are $129.99 and $199.99, depending on the style.
A storage bag, the NPL-3 Ultimate Protection Deluxe laptop case from Case Logic offers a rigid internal frame with a suspension system that provides ultra-protection for laptop computers. The bag from the Longmont, Colo.-based company presents roomy, zippered compartments for storing all essentials at a traveler's fingertips. This includes removable folio for CDs and travel documents, padded shoulder strap, and top-load for fast access to a computer of up to 15.4-inch screen size or tablet PCs. Suggested retail is $79.99.
Ideal for the urban commuter, mobile professional or student, a four-model notebook-case line is new from Anaheim, Calif.-headquartered Targus. Called CityGear, the line includes three briefcase-style cases and one backpack that incorporate contemporary styling with functional designs.
Cases offer a sporty black, gray and yellow exterior that should appeal to the fashion-conscious and padded notebook compartments and nylon exteriors that ensure safe and lightweight transport. Multiple compartments keep users organized and make accessories easy to find. Also included is a front zippered pocket, zip-down workstation, removable mobile phone pouch and side-hidden water bottle pocket.
The Targus CityGear Miami messenger notebook case weighs 3 pounds and accommodates notebooks with screen sizes up to 17 inches. It includes an adjustable divider to secure smaller notebooks, and several pockets for mobile accessories such as a PDA and a file storage section. Suggested retail is $49.99.
Notebook access is said to be quick and easy with the CityGear New York notebook case. The main compartment holds notebooks with up to 15.4-inch screens and includes an additional file storage section. Other features are a removable mesh accessories pouch, two divided file sections and a removable CD/DVD sleeve that holds up to eight discs. Suggested retail is $59.99.
The CityGear Los Angeles Notebook Case accommodates products with up to 17-inch screens and incorporates the same features as the New York case, including top-loading and removable mesh pockets and media sleeve. Suggested retail is $$79.99.
Reflective material is included on the front panel of the CityGear Chicago notebook backpack, which weighs 3.2 pounds. It features a notebook sleeve to fit units up to 15.4 inches, a padded CD player pocket, accessories pocket, removable CD/DVD sleeve for eight discs and a side pocket for PDA or sunglasses. Suggested retail is $69.99.
A travel case designed for the urban elite and their digital essentials is new from Baldwin Park, Calif.-based Sumdex. Part of the company's new mt-2 series, the mt North South Courier is made of water repellent nylon twill, with all metal hardware, and features a top-loading padded compartment for a 10.6-inch-screen notebook, portable DVD player, PDA, digital camera and accessories.
The mt NS Courier includes a multifunctional work station compartment with cellphone pocket that keeps peripherals and tools conveniently organized. Front and back zipper pockets provide fast access to additional small items. The case comes in black or blue colors and has a suggested $59.95 retail.
Portable storage bags for audio hardware and accessories continue to add carrying space and fashion elements.
The Body Glove Scuba II DVD player sleeve from Itasca, Ill.-based Fellowes holds and transports DVD players up to 10 inches. The product, made with soft, protective material, includes two inside pockets for DVDs or other essentials. The Scuba II at a suggested $19.99 retail includes a “quality” zipper intended for heavy and continuous use.
Going beyond the basic utility of the metal snaps associated with collapsible and portable storage boxes, Allsop is introducing its collapsible disc storage box that incorporates wood dowels and an asymmetrical design into a product that stands alone as a decorative accessory.
“Utility alone is no longer enough to get consumers to buy,” said Brett Allsop, VP/sales and marketing at the Bellingham, Wash.-based company, about the new stylized bin. “Would I put this product in my home even if I didn't need it? Yes,” said Allsop.
The collapsible box holds 18 movies, about a minimum $200 value, but more likely $300 or $400 worth of movies, said Allsop. “With that much invested in your home and your entertainment, it's just got to look good,” he said.
Retailers, as well as consumers, benefit from the collapsible box design, which reduces the amount of merchandising space required on the retail shelf. Boxes that hold 38 CDs or 18 DVDs can fit into a 1-inch-thick space unassembled. And since consumers have been seeing this type of collapsible box with metal snaps, they are familiar with the concept and are ready to take the next step to attractive variations, said Allsop. Boxes have a suggested $12.99 retail and were scheduled for October shipping.
Proline is introducing a DVD storage page that fits in all standard three-ring binders and albums. The front of the page holds two full-size DVD title cards, and the back side holds up to four DVD discs in separate protective pockets. The page is constructed of polypropylene material and a soft non-woven fabric that holds the disc securely and protects these from scratching. Denver-based Proline sells the DVD pages in a 10-pack for a suggested $9.95 retail.
Not all audio storage cases are all travel business, with some leaving room for both portability and holiday merchandise-display whimsy. This fall, Computer Expressions is unveiling Tum-Tums, seven “charismatic” creatures designed for CD storage.
These “dopey disc-a-vores” CD/DVD wallets — penguin, frog, elephant, gorilla, turtle, kangaroo and koala bear — hold 24 CDs/DVDs inside their bellies. Made of soft-sculpted plush and scratch-resistant sleeves, the Tom-Toms are said to be not only silly and squishy, but also safe and secure, according to the Philadelphia-headquartered maker. At a suggested $14.99 retail, the product is marketed toward “amusing and affordable gifts for music, movie and video-game enthusiasts.
When it comes to CE hardware portability,Atlantic is working to make sure consumers are choosing to bring their DVD players “along for the ride.” Whether traveling by plane, train or automobile, the Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based company wants to make sure users protect their investments with its Tahiti DVD player case.
Offered in black and gray colors, the case holds standard DVD players up to 9 inches, and mounts to a car's headrest for rear-seat viewing. The case, said to be perfect for providing DVDs to kids on long auto rides, has a “sleek,” compact design that makes it easy for transport in a backpack or small carry-on bag.
The Tahiti is composed of heat and tear-resistant materials, with portable DVD players able to be cushioned with extra padding and secured with a sturdy Velcro strap. The product, scheduled for October availability at a suggested $24.99 retail, holds up to eight movies in an external zippered pocket, while a zippered mesh inner pocket holds accessories such as power cords and headphones. A detachable shoulder strap is included.
Consumers who don't want to completely cover expensive cellphones because they deem these products too “pretty and sharp,” have been offered an alternative by Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Bytech. The company is following up its Original Cellular Shuttle case with its new Krystal Series case. The Krystal Shuttle model appeals to consumer willing to give up the advantage of having their cellphones protected in a luxury case in order to preserve the original design and look of their phones.
Bytech has taken its Shuttle case and transformed the original leather look into a 2-tone transparent design. Trim, available in four colors, encircles the borders and curves of the phone. The main body of the case is completely see-through, thus allowing for the original look of the phone to remain.
The original concept of the Shuttle's double stitching is still used to ensure durability and uphold the structure of the case. Consumers can hold onto their phones' original looks, plus add style and life to what could have been a boring, clear case, said Bytech.
Elastic straps still connect the folding part of the flip, and the company's release clip still is used. The outcome is the Krystal Shuttle — a fitted carrying case with a “sexy, unique” look that offers the convenience of carrying a phone on a belt, without losing the style needed to show off a phone. Shuttle availability is this fall at a suggested $19.99 retail.
When it comes to hard carrying cases, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Slappa, which specializes in digital product storage, is offering its 360 Pro CD case with HardBody shell. The unit, which shows off a black and Black Z-suede exterior finish on a molded hard case, features a velvet-lined interior with extra-wide pockets for discs and disc-cover storage. Each case comes equipped with a heavy-duty handle and easy-grip zipper pulls. Cases, available at a suggested $59.99 retail, come with two spine labels and a CD cleaning cloth.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.