by Sarah Meyer
The Skullcandy Link Street Pack is the essence of cool, at least from first glance. The Skullcandy is a stylish design combined with bumpin speakers, the ability to sync your music and phone, and of course still protect your notebook.
But is the Link Street Pack all that’s cracked up to be? Will you really be the coolest kid on the block if you are carrying one of these or the most gullible?
Link Street Pack Specifications:
- Made from ballistic nylon
- 60mm x 40mm water-proof speaker drivers
- AA battery power amp
- Mobile-Mic for handsfree capability
- DC Jack for headset capability
- Soft Touch control panel
- Holds up to 17″ notebooks
- Compatible with almost every mobile phone
- Dimensions: approx. 21″ x 13″ x 8″
- Weight: approx. 3 lbs.
- 90 day warranty
Design and Build
The Link Street Pack I reviewed is made out of mostly white ballistic nylon, with tan shoulder straps and accents.The bottom of the bag seems to be made out of a material similar to leather and is black.
Across the front of the bag there is a large Skullcandy logo in a slightly gray white (about 9 inches long) and a Skullcandy trademark skeleton below that in orange.The Skullcandy logo and skeleton is also on the zipper pulls, shoulder straps and back of the bag.
The bag is separated into four different sized compartments. In each of the compartments there are a slew of pockets for storage.
Starting from the front of the bag, the first compartment is a long, vertical rectangular pocket.Inside there are two pockets and four pen/pencil holders.One of the pockets is a small mesh zippered pocket and is perfect for cash, an ID or a pack of gum.The other pocket is meant to be a sunglasses holder.It’s soft-lined and Velcro’s shut.
The next two compartments are much larger. I’ll refer to them as the textbook compartment and the notebook compartment to help keep them straight.
The textbook compartment is completely gray and consists of five pockets and another four pen/pencil holders. Three of these pockets are mesh zippered and all vary in size.One is large enough to store bigger notebook accessories such as power bricks, a docking station, external speakers etc.The second has a key fob located inside and could be good for more personal items such as spare office supplies. In the third and smallest you could keep spare batteries for the amp, memory cards, or an extra set of ear buds.
There is another soft-lined Velcro closing pocket in this compartment as well as a large open pocket perfect for storing folders and paper notebooks.Overall, the textbook compartment is huge enough for several textbooks and accessories, hence the name.
The notebook compartment is where the notebook sleeve is located.The notebook sleeve is made out of a soft, black neoprene (I’m not sure if this pocket is water-resistant, the manufacturer doesn’t mention it). There is no additional padding but the sleeve does have a large, strong Velcro flap to keep it secured in place.
According to Skullcandy, the Link Street Pack “will hold up to a 17 inch silver computer (you know which one).”Not sure what that means, but we have a sneaking suspicion they might be referring to a MacBook, a typically smaller 17″ notebook.Either way, fitting a 17” gaming notebook in the sleeve is going to a tight squeeze.
Besides the notebook pocket, the notebook compartment is where the amp is located, nestled inside a small pocket that is made out of the same black material as the notebook pocket and it zippers shut.There are also two other gray zippered pockets: one mesh, one solid. The mesh pocket is almost the exact same size as the second largest zippered pocket in the textbook compartment. The solid pocket is the same size as the open pocket in the textbook compartment but would not be able to hold a folder or paper notebook because it is stitched down the middle.
The fourth compartment – located on the side of the Link Street Pack – is where your mobile phone and iPod/MP3 are stored.They each have their own pocket made of the same black wet suit material mentioned earlier. They are marked with orange phone and music note logos to help the user but you can also tell by locating the pocket with the distinct iPod connector.
Inside the iPod/MP3 pocket, there are three connectors: the distinct iPod connector, and two others.One is used for iPod shuffle users, generic MP3 users or even an old school CD player and the other is for the phone pocket.
This third connector comes with five adaptors to fit almost any mobile phone.
In the fourth compartment there is also another gray mesh zippered pocket.I stored all the extra adaptors and my ear buds inside this pocket.
On the other side of the Link Street Pack there is an elastic mesh pocket for storing water bottles or other beverages.
The back of the pack has a pretty common ergonomic back ventilation system.There are three black panels made out of mesh and stuffed with a soft padding and are located at the top of the bag and on both sides. The shoulder straps have a similar look and feel.
The shoulder straps are also the where the 60 mm x 4mm water-resistant speaker drivers are located – one on each strap in a small zippered pocket. Below the speaker on the right shoulder strap is the Skullcandy keypad.
The keypad has six buttons: Amp/phone, volume up, volume down, track skip, track reverse and iPod power.Pressing the Amp or iPod buttons for three seconds or more will turn each respective item on or off.Pressing the Amp button once will connect or disconnect a phone call.The rest of the buttons are self explanatory.
Located below the speaker on the left shoulder strap are the amp LED light, DC jack and 3.5mm headset jack.
As mentioned before the Link Street Pack comes with an AA battery powered amp that plays music out of 60mm x 40mm speaker drivers.The audio quality is not bad at lower volume levels, distortion free until it hits the 75 percent volume level or around 70-80 dB.Here, you can just start to make out some minor distortion, but the music is still enjoyable and relatively clear.Above 75 percent, the distortion starts to get worse and at maximum volume or around 85 dB, you can barely make out the tune it’s so fuzzy and awful.
The Link Street Pack is powered by four AA batteries include with the bag.You can also use AND recharge rechargeable batteries in the amp by plugging in an AC power supply to the DC jack.The unfortunate part is Skullcandy supplies no AC power supply, nor does it sell an AC power supply on its website.So the user is left to guess what sort of AC power supply would be compatible with the pack.
We tried using the Class 2 power supply pictured below.The plug fit in the DC jack but did not power the amp.Good luck trying to find one that does.In the meantime, I’d stick with the AA batteries, they worked just fine.
As for battery life, there is no mention on Skullcandy’s website on how long four AA batteries should keep the amp running, but I played with it off and on for about a week and the amp was still working.
Using the bag
The Link Street Pack is a great backpack.It’s large and has a TON of storage.The outside of the bag is made of ballistic nylon so it’s durable and the speakers are water resistant.
It was comfortable to wear as far as the back and shoulder strap support, but the pack started to get heavy with just my computer and a few accessories inside.If you were planning on carrying your notebook, a few textbooks, and plenty of accessories – which is totally doable – plan on a hefty load since the bag alone is over 3 lbs.
The mobile phone connection worked well; the calls came in and pressing the Amp button did answer phone calls. I could hear the person calling me easily and she said she could hear me even though I wasn’t talking directly into the Mobile-Mic (mostly because I couldn’t figure out where it was located).
I probably wouldn’t answer phone calls unless I had my headset attached – I’m not sure the person calling you would appreciate everyone around being able to hear them – but the feature does work.
I also enjoyed the sturdy handle at the top of the pack for grabbing the bag quickly.
My biggest complaint with the usability of the bag is the complete lack of an instruction manual.I’m not exaggerating.For a bag that is as complicated as this one can be; I was expecting thorough instructions.Instead, I got an 8.5 x 11 standard piece a paper with a few instructions and three unmarked diagrams. The attached tag also had a few instructions which were referred to as a quick start guide.Well, want to know how quickly we got the bag working? It took four technology savvy adults and about 30-45 minutes.
The website was not helpful either; no manual downloads or FAQ sections to be found. I’m still confused about the AC power supply and my LG Chocolate cell phone was not compatible – I had to get a separate adaptor before I could test it – despite Skullcandy’s claim that the Link Street Pack “works with EVERY mobile phone.”
The Skullcandy Link Street Pack is cool.It has many great, cutting edge features for a notebook backpack and is quite spacious with a ton of pockets. I loved that I could sync my iPod shuffle and my cell together and have it be handsfree.
However, a bag this complicated and expensive should come with a deep, well organized product manual and a longer warranty.With all the things that could go wrong with the pack, especially because of the limited instructions, 90 days isn’t going to cut it.
- Cool design, color choices
- Comfortable to wear (without full load)
- Spacious, great for organization
- Phone and iPods sync well together
- Speaker distortion at higher volume levels
- Complete lack of instruction manual
- Expensive with only a 90-day warranty
Pricing and Availability
The Skullcandy Link Street Pack is available on Skullcandy’s websitefor $149.95.
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