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TUAW Review and giveaway: BackPack for iMac and Cinema Display

Way back in August we announced the release of the Twelve South BackPack for iMacs and Cinema Displays. It's a cool little metal shelf that clamps onto the back of the desk stand on your computer or monitor, giving you a place to hide a backup hard drive or proudly display the best of your Star Wars figurine collection.

Twelve South sent us a couple of BackPacks to try out, and in following TUAW's policy for review equipment, we're going to be giving those away to two lucky readers. Before we get to the details of the giveaway, be sure to read the review of this surprisingly handy little accessory.

Back when we ran the first post about the BackPack, I noted that the device doesn't use any clamps to grab onto the metal arm of your iMac or Cinema Display, using friction and gravity instead. One reader insisted that there had to be clamps of some sort, but Andrew from Twelve South quickly corrected her with this statement:
Just wanted to clarify the 'friction and gravity' thing. It is accurate. Nothing screws into the iMac stand. There are two clips that you adjust in width and then tighten onto the BackPack shelf. The shelf and clips then hold onto the iMac stand with gravity - because the stand is trapezoidal (smaller at the top - larger at the bottom). It simply slides down to the width you have set. That's also what makes it adjustable - you just change the width. Hope this helps.

So there you have it -- the BackPack shelf doesn't have any little clamps that could scratch up your nice aluminum stand. As an unabashed Apple fanboy (except for the Apple TV), I have a special fondness for companies that create products only for Mac that have that special Apple feel. The packaging looks like it came from Cupertino, with a large red card saying "Thank You" at the top of the box when you open it.

Inside the box is a translucent white non-slip mat made of a rubber-like material, the shelf (made of a quality perforated aluminum), and a compartment holding all of the "fit inserts" and the clips. The fit inserts are made of a plastic that won't scratch the aluminum arm on your iMac or Cinema Display, and they snap into the clips. There are five different clips available in each package, and the Compatibility Guide (part of the owner's guide) tells you which insert to use with a particular iMac or Cinema Display.

In the case of my original 20" Intel Core Duo iMac, I was instructed to use Fit Insert 3. The plastic inserts snapped into place in the aluminum stand clips, at which time I removed the small knurled fastening screws from the clips and then placed the clips onto the shelf. After putting the clips on the shelf I re-inserted the screws and tightened them enough so they wouldn't fall off the shelf but would allow the clips to move right or left.

At that point, I simply guided the clips onto the aluminum arm of my iMac, pushing them in slightly so that they had a tight grip on the iMac. After centering the shelf, I tightened the screws.

The BackPack can take a lot of weight, and putting even a relatively heavy hard disk drive (like this OWC Mercury Elite AL-Pro Quad 2 TB drive) that weighs 2.7 pounds won't even budge the shelf. I only have one minor complaint -- once you've placed the inserts into the clips, it's almost impossible to get them out! It was only after I wedged them out with a few paper clips that I was able to fully disassemble the test unit for our giveaway.

All in all, I liked the BackPack and plan on buying a pair of them if I'm able to purchase a new 27" iMac next year. That computer won't fit in the "niche" on my desk, so I'll have to place it where everyone can see the back of the computer. Maybe I'll display my old Newton MessagePad 2100 and Apple QuickTake 100 on the back of the iMac as a way of paying homage to the older products!

The BackPack would make a great Christmas present for anyone who has an iMac or Cinema Display. We're giving away one BackPack each to two lucky TUAW readers. Here's the scoop:
  • Open to legal US residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.
  • To enter leave a comment telling us what you'll put on your BackPack
  • The comment must be left before Saturday, December 5, 2009, 11:59PM Eastern Standard Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Two winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Prizes: BackPack adjustable shelf for Mac from Twelve South valued at US$29.99
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.
Check out the gallery below for pictures of the BackPack assembly and installation!

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