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BackPack: The Shelf You Never Knew You Needed

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Sometimes, owning a Mac isn’t just an option in computing…it’s a way of life. The Apple (s aapl) design philosophy with which we are so enamored — industrial design and elegant, beautiful minimalism — is part of every icon, every pulsing progress bar, every click of the serene Mighty Mouse. Even when the machine is asleep, white LED glowing with promise, we marvel at the stately, bushed metal lines. Truly, Apple has transformed computing into art.

So, the only thing missing, really, is a metal shelf screwed in the back. It’s obvious, when you think about it. Well, it was obvious to the talented boys and girls at TwelveSouth who decided if Johnny Ive wasn’t going to make it happen, they would. And they did a cracking job of it, too.

BackPack 01

The BackPack is a simple idea, beautifully executed. It’s a discreet, sturdy metal shelf that fits onto the L-shaped stand on any modern Mac display. Designed to hold up to five pounds in weight, it can effortlessly accommodate almost any typical external hard drive. I don’t know about you, but one of the reasons I love Macs is because they do away with clutter. Gone are the zillions of cables and unidentifiable fiddly-things that accompany typical PC’s. The only cable I see on my desktop belongs to my iPhone dock; a welcome change to the so-called ‘wireless’ keyboard and mouse on my last PC, which required a hard-wired bluetooth transceiver and recharging cradle (great big ugly thing it was) sharing desk space with my monitor.

BackPack 08

The point is that I enjoy a clean desktop and resent having to share that space with anything more than the Mac itself. Even when the thing sharing the space is really useful, or even crucial — like the external hard drive I use for Time Machine backups.

BackPack is the solution I never stopped to imagine was possible. But now that it’s there, I get the “Why didn’t I think of that?” feeling.

The care and attention TwelveSouth has lavished on this device is obvious from the moment you look at the packaging. Neat, clean and brimming-over with careful deliberation. From the “Thank you” note nestled beneath the shelf to the completely unnecesary and yet utterly-wonderful rubber mat (your HDD never knew such luxury!) the unboxing experience alone screams “Premium Product.”

I appreciate user experience. It’s why I love the Mac, and why I had such a love/hate relationship with MobileMe when that service lumbered, heaving and panting, into life. I love the BackPack because of the experience TwelveSouth has so diligently ensured I will have getting it set up. Let’s face it — it’s a metal plate you screw to your monitor. It lives out of sight and (in no time at all) out of mind. You might show-off Snow Leopard to a friend, but you’ll never say “Hey! Come on over, I really gotta show you my new metal plate I screwed to the back of my Mac!” Its creators know this, so they have made certain the few, precious minutes you do spend with it are a great experience.

OK. Perhaps I need to get out more. But if you want to keep your workspace clutter-free, and do so with style, you won’t find a more elegant and Mac-like way to do it than with the BackPack. Highly recommended.

For more information on the BackPack and other products from TwelveSouth, click here.

12 Responses to “BackPack: The Shelf You Never Knew You Needed”

  1. It looks very complicated with all the little bits. Why an entire shelf instead of simply adjustable clips at any position (high, low, vertical, horizontal) to attach to the stand to firmly hold … what ever it is you didn’t know you needed holding? The dimensions of the shelf limit what can be held and it looks top heavy especially at a max 5 lbs. I have the same concerns as Mr Klein, is it an approved accessory to be attached to the iMac? What about heat transfer? Is this the purpose of the silicone sheet? But, you chatted up the packaging so much, the detail, high quality plastic, sturdy fabric finish cardboard, etc., … could I just have the box? (just kidding) Not being sarcastic, but always curious.

    • I’m a sucker for great packaging ;-)

      There’s absolutely no issue with heat at all, at least, not with the fairly-heavy WD MyBook HDD I’ve got sitting on the one you see in the video.

      The silicone sheet is a great additional touch for protecting delicate plastic surfaces (such as the back of an iPhone or iPod Touch) from the metal surface of the shelf. Even though the shelf is perfectly smooth and unlikely to cause any scratches, the silicone sheet is there as a nice little added extra. Really adds to the luxury “feel”.

      I really like to have an empty desk, or, at the very least, the illusion of an empty desk. That super-strong aluminum stand that supports my HD Cinema Display is easily capable of holding a little more, and it’s fantastic having the external HDD and cables tidility tucked away and “managed”.

      As for fiddly… hmmm… maybe a little bit. But that’s just the price you pay for having ultimate flexibility for positioning the BackPack anywhere you like (vertically I mean) on the stand, and not just on the HD Cinema Display, but on any of the L-shaped Apple displays (including the iMac). And, to be fair, it’s a fiddle you only have to endure one time, during setup.


  2. Love the idea. Looks really cool. Having not seen the physical product though my initial thoughts are that there appears to be a lot of extra ‘little bits’ to use on a very simplistic design. The packaging also looks expensive but I guess they’ve done their homework on this though. Overall looks a neat idea but perhaps needs the ‘Ive’ finishing touch.