How many battery-powered devices can you see right now? I’ll go first: three. A smartwatch, my phone and a laptop. They’re all connected to a socket right now, but what if I need to go somewhere? Wouldn’t it be handy if there was a bag that I could carry all my possessions in while charging them at the same time?
It sure would.
What is LAER?
LAER is a laptop sleeve, albeit quite a chunky one. But with good reason: alongside your precious laptop, the sleeve contains space for a 5,000 or 20,000mAh battery, along with all the adapters you’d ever need. It also has an optional sling bag and wireless charging pad for all your goods. In short, it’s one less thing that you need to charge, meaning that in theory, you should never be caught short again. The larger battery has enough juice to fill an iPhone 7 more than eight times over.
“I was travelling a lot for work. Spending most of my time on the go and away from a wall socket,” the company’s managing director Eoin Cooney tells me, explaining that various cables and travel adapters were becoming a nightmare. “I tried to fill this gap with power banks but most of them don’t charge MacBooks and they have had preset voltages that you can’t change. Their tiny screens and unintuitive interfaces make them difficult to use.”
LAER is on its third prototype and has overcome myriad problems so far. Cooney lists charging MagSafe MacBooks, heat dissipation, and spatial issues as the main ones, and envisages further revisions to follow for mass production. “Biggest changes would be the layout and materials. The first prototype was leather and much larger, but we managed to significantly reduce the size by creating a two-tier magnetic closure system which allows you to charge on the go.”
“Crowdfunding is a very stressful way to raise funds but once you know what you’re getting yourself into and you understand the strategy behind it, then it’s okay. Kickstarter is awesome so would definitely use them again.”
Why should I care?
If you own a laptop, then this is for you on some level. The cables we have multiply by the number of devices: anything that can simplify that mess is a good thing. Rather than being another thing to carry in your bag, LAER aims to be that bag. You have to admire that kind of out of the box thinking.
How much and when would I get it?
Stump up £110 and you can get the LAER PRO Super Early Bird pack, which includes the sleeve, a 5,000mAh battery and a 20,000mAh battery that you can swap out depending on your need (it takes an hour to charge the former, and four for the latter.)
If you want a bag to fit it all in, then you can back the LAER TRAVELER for £15 more, which includes the Sling Bag. If you have something that charges wirelessly, you can throw in another £10 for the QI Wireless Receiver, taking the total to £135. These will eventually retail for between £185 and £225, so it’s a decent saving.
The company estimates that LAERs will be delivered to you in March 2018 – just in time for Easter breaks. So don’t forget your charger over Christmas.
Is there anything else like LAER out there?
Kind of, but it feels a bit of a disservice to put them in the same category, really. If you search Google for battery equipped backpacks, they’re pretty common, but they’re nowhere near as advanced as LAER purports to be – most don’t even provide the battery, just a space to put it. That’s overlooking the fact that LAER provides options that will charge everything from the MacBook to an e-cigarette.
LAER is a laptop sleeve rather than a rucksack and provides the battery. If you’re actively seeking something bigger, there are other options, but for what’s on the table, LAER is an impressive feat of engineering.
How risky is backing LAER?
As ever with crowdfunding, there is no such thing as a guaranteed product. The end result may not be what’s promised, might never see the light of day, or might disappoint in another way. Only pay what you can afford to lose.
In LAER’s case, the noises are generally good. They’ve comfortably passed their goal target, and have raised even more on Indiegogo, so it’s hard to see them running out of money when you look at the experience on the team. Cooney himself has worked with both technology and fashion companies since 2002, while Romain Pascal – the head of design – also has an impressive CV when it comes to working with luxury brands.
Arrow Electronics has also certified the product, meaning it should be feasible for mass production.