#Review of @FLDProducts -stylish bags protection for YOUR style and portable devices

It is always an honour and a thrill to be asked to review a book, a product, a film, even to give an opinion on a location or a venue. So it was a double honour to be given the opportunity to review a series of products from South African Company FLD Products, bringing home the term we in South Africa have loved to use for many years, #LocalIsLekker.

Lori Lazarus is one of the dynamos behind this South African Company and with no hesitation at all when she contacted me, I jumped at the opportunity to review a few of their products. The timing was perfect as we had a house full, people from all walks of life flitting through and back to back meetings with professionals in various disciplines of corporate life, as well environmentally.

Miss D is an environmentalist/game ranger, spending her long days and nights driving over rough terrain in the wilderness of Africa, showing international visitors the wealth of wildlife we have on our great continent. Her means of communication to the “outside world” is her tablet, cellphones and laptop. She carries her devices with her everywhere, to capture the moment, to send images to people around the world, to record her experiences as they happen. She relies on her portable devices to do just this. Losing one in the likely event of breakage would mean waiting for another trip to civilisation for replacement.

I asked her for an honest review of the products, given that she relies so much on technology in her “far-end” of the world. Miss D loved the black/pink colour combination, that was her very first remark. Watching her examine every aspect of the bags I knew we’d get the good with the bag in minute detail. And so we did. The bags are thickly padded with nylon and PVC, providing additional protection from harsh elements. The pouches for cell phone and even a notebook were elements she said were vital. The adjustable sling, an option to use or not, was an added bonus as she would have all equipment with her at the desired times, bearing in mind Miss D carries photographic equipment with her on the excursions. For her the whole package comes together very nicely, in or out of a motor vehicle.

Because the bags themselves are so stylish and really good to look at, they make a perfect accessory when back in civilisation and in urban built-up areas. The one criticism, and there really was only one, is the lack of a little clip or fastener, preventing the phone from falling out the pouch.

We discussed this, after I asked “Is it REALLY necessary since the phone fits it snugly?” And her reply was “We live in South Africa, anything is possible – it could be just an extra safety feature, and it could be hidden inside the cellphone section, or a colour-coded slip flap which fastens could be an external feature.” Imagining this I see that it could work, it would in no way detract from the sheer simplistic beauty of the product. The suggestion here I gather was based on the possibility of someone trying to slip their grubby little paws into the bag to lift the phone out, no mean feat.

Next to have a look at the products is Mr DAN.   He works in the steel industry, and also does a lot of traveling. Okay, he was not sold on the pink/black, and opted for the blue/black combination, but loved the idea of protection and portability of his devices while in his typically male environment. He contended it made for practical access to the tools he needs for instant communication with his suppliers and clients, and, whilst he does carry his portable devices with him everywhere, was sold on the idea of having them together in a handy, solid, good-looking bag.

No product review would be complete without the input of students, and before I get into the oohs-and-aaahs of that, I’m going to share some research I did whilst compiling this review.

It is no secret that education is a passion, the good, the bad, the ugly. I am based in South Africa so for ‘hands-on” learning I am limiting my research to what is happening in our schools and tertiary institutions, and distance learning centres here. We need to remind ourselves that Africa is a diverse continent, and in many rural areas students who have graduated from high school and wish to further their education often do not have access to universities for a myriad of reasons. They then turn to distance learning.

With erratic power supply, outages, transport difficulties many a student is faced with challenges when trying to study. School fees being one of the most expensive items on the family’s monthly household budget also often prevents children from attending formal educational institutions.

Enter distance learning and here I quote some figures and interesting research from www.timeshighereducation.co.uk

Driven by falling costs and a lack of fixed phone line connections, mobile phone ownership in Africa is booming, and is transforming everything from banking and healthcare (with text messages used to transfer money and send health advice), to agriculture and politics (farmers can receive guidance, weather forecasts and market reports, while communications technology has played a key role in recent uprisings) – so why not education?

The possibilities are being much hyped. Last year, the US television channel CNN declared that mobile technology had “immense” potential to transform Africa’s “dysfunctional educational system…as mobile phones – cheaper to own and easier to run than PCs – gain ground as tools for delivering teaching content”.

It has also captured the attention of the international development community. In 2011, the US Agency for International Development and Stanford University held m4Ed4Dev (Mobile for Education for Development), a round-table discussion designed to explore the use of mobile devices for education in developing countries, and last year the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation published Turning on Mobile Learning: In Africa and the Middle East. In February, Unesco hosted its second annual Mobile Learning Week, a five-day conference designed to explore the contribution that mobile learning might make towards its Education for All goals.

Mobile phones are already being used to improve teacher training and as a way of staying in touch with university students, but can they really improve access to and the quality of higher education on a significant scale?

The African economy has been growing at a rate of about 5 per cent a year for the past decade and, according to the World Bank, it is predicted to grow more quickly than that of any other continent over the next five years. The booming information and communications technology sector, and in particular the rapid growth of mobile communications, is credited with having driven much of this remarkable economic expansion.

The figures are certainly impressive. There are now more mobile phones in the whole of Africa than there are in the US. In 2001, only about 25 million people in Africa had a mobile phone subscription, but by last year this number had rocketed to about 650 million – an increase of 2,600 per cent.

It stands therefore that a solid, and increasingly necessary,  investment in our children’s education is the acquisition of portable devices.

When asked for their own opinions on the bags, Miss S (student, informal education) and Miss R (Scholar at a formal institution), both owners of cellphones and 7″ tablets concurred.   The bags are an “asset accessory” to carry to the Mall.    Miss R, rather heavy handed with cellular phones (and hence we need to protect the iPad and tablet) declared her love for the thick padding which would protect her phone and other portable devices.   Miss S, whose phone is always in her face, loved the idea of having her devices with her at any given time.   Both loved the pink/black combination.

International Environment, FLD Products, South Africa

International Environment, FLD Products, South Africa

To turn to the company behind these must-have accessories, we have a look at FLD Products – FL Distribution.

International Environment, FLD Products, South Africa

International Environment, FLD Products, South Africa

FL Distribution has investigated and understood the ever changing global environment and therefore aims to continuously evolve and keep up to date with the latest technological trends.

We are committed to continuously offer rejuvenated quality goods by utilizing the best fabrics and materials to serve the needs of the marketplace.   We are currently offering stylish and trendy bags for the standard tablet and laptop market;  however we have just developed an adapted version for the iPad mini/Samsung note 2.  Our long-term goal is to continue to develop and offer a wider range of products to the ever  changing mobile environment and to be in major retail stores both nationwide and ultimately globally. We also aim to have our own personalised stand displaying our various  products.

These above mentioned statistics indicate the direction which technology is heading.   FL Distribution as a company aims to be a trendsetter in keeping up and continuously supplying products for the foreseeable future.

FLD bags are unique as they are a stylish tech accessory, which offers protection and carrying mechanisms that can be adapted to individual preferences. The three storage pockets are provided for chargers notebooks and cell phones add to the functionality and desirability of the product range.

“You won’t leave your network connection behind at the office or in the  classroom. It will be more than any object you carry or an appliance you  purchase. It will be your passport to a new mediated way of life” (Gates, 1995).

Retailers are expected to resort to selling products at lower returns in a bid to attract new customers.   Such a trend is likely to influence growth in private label lines amongst retailers.  Local private label products offer a viable option to boost sales to retailers and to boost both the African and South African economy.   With the implementation of the Consumer Protection Act retailers are expected to build relationships with reliable suppliers and manufactures to ensure that the quality of products is not compromised.

Utilising social media has also had an impact on the economic environment as it is identified as one of the best and cost effective means of advertising.  Social media channels also bring retailers closer to consumers and build brand recall and loyalty.

About FLD products:

Current products consist of a growing range of portable tablet and laptop bags utilizing bright and fun colours catering for the needs of tech savvy and fashionable individuals who are always on the pulse and in tune with the latest trends.

The materials consist of

  • Unique high quality water resistant Nylon imported from Korea with PVC backing, which makes the bag extremely durable.
  • Additional nylon seams, linings and trimmings with colour coordinated designs.
  • A sturdy handle and a removable strap.
  • Separate pockets lined with protected scratch-proof fabric.
  • Heavy duty zippers and sliders.

Their developing product range is currently available in
• Mini tablet: size – 7,5” NEW
• Standard tablet: size – 10”
• Laptop sizes: 11” 13” 15”
• A wide variety of colours to match individual style preferences
• Bags are gender neutral to suit the stylish needs of any individual. (See images below for detailed specs)

My overall rating is a solid 10/10, still taking into account the debate on the cellphone clip.   I am unashamedly a tech geek.  I have every conceivable portable device of one make or another, and my possessiveness over each is probably beyond the expected norms.  I even keep the screen cover over the new desktop PC screen – I keep the cling covers on the washing machine, and on the laptop.  Yes, I probably am fanatical.  Without access to my gadgets my work would not be done, I would feel unclothed and incomplete.

My standard iPad fitted perfectly into the iPad bag – WITH it’s stand as well.  To illustrate what I mean by this I have taken a few photographs.  The iPad on its own was a snug fit, perfectly protecting my beloved device.  However I often use the iPad for video purposes and so require the stand, which is a fixture by now, and the iPad takes my videos whilst I use my beast of a camera to photograph events etc.  I was a little concerned that the stand would have to be removed to fit the iPad in, but to my absolute delight, all fitted together perfectly.  With my phone.  The adjustable strap makes perfect sense as I have been seen to be carrying equipment in my hands, under my arms, on my back, whilst I search for a cellphone I KNOW I’d had just minutes previously.  Not a pretty spectacle at all.  To have all right there, perfectly protected, is for me an excuse to get maybe one more?

Thank you Lori for giving me the opportunity to be a part of your review team.  I urge any parent who fears the day he or she hears the sentence that starts off with “…Mom/Dad, about my iPad/phone/tablet… well you see, I was just walking…”

Please contact Lori Lazarus
082 520 6162


Jonathan Feldman
082 377 5032

for more information on this wide variety of good-looking, versatile, practical and absolutely vital accessories.  Follow them on Twitter for updates and special promotions as well.   You won’t be sorry!

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