So, this one was a little hard for me to talk myself into. Normally, I’ll step out of my car, turn off the phone, and not think about anything digital until I’m back in my car. The entertainment center loft from BA certainly breaks that rule, but was it worth it? I found it certainly had it’s place, far away from earshot of anyone else looking to enjoy the wilderness. During winter months when the sun dies at 5:30 pm, or long, drawn out rain storms hiding away in your tent, or even a little family friendly car camping next to the lake. There are certainly times when it can come in handy. Should you use this? it’s up to you. I personally found a sinister sense of enjoyment out of catching up on a couple Warehouse 13 episodes miles away from civilization, while waiting out a particularly brutal sun beat down.
About the loft
The loft is designed to house your tablet inside a water resistant case, and allow you to string it up inside your tent, between some trees, or dangle it between your pack llamas for an impromptu movie session. The loft is comprised of 4 elastic bands with hooks and adjusters, the case itself, a dangling pocket for external speakers or accessories, and a clear, touch compatible protective face. It weighs very little, around 2 ounces.
What I liked
It’s really light weight, yet surprisingly flexible in use. Every band, and even the size of tablet is adjustable. I tested a couple different tablets, ranging from 7 inches all the way up to 11.7, and it worked just fine. The elastic bands and adjusters allowed for a nice level pitch in a variety of situations, including an odd connection to a daisy chain of vertical loft connection points inside a tent. I always found a way to make it work.
The touch screen works pretty well through the protective screen, and the loft does an impressive job of not muffling the sound from your tablet. In one case actually improving the audio quality on a poor set of speakers.
What I didn’t like
The screen, while protective, induced quite a bit of glare from ambient sunlight. This will certainly work best in the dark, or in the shadows away from casting rays. The protective cover can also wrinkle on top of the screen, requiring a little work to get them out. Otherwise, performance at night was great. It costs $50, which isn’t terrible. But, it’s not water proof, only quite water resistant. At this price point, impermeability would have been appreciated.
Whether or not you decide the media center loft should even exist in the backcountry is ultimately up to you. Everyone should backpack the way they see fit. If you do decide this could enhance your enjoyment of the backcountry, it works great. It’s adjustable, dependable, and offers great performance in many lighting conditions. You won’t get the best performance during the daylight, but watching a movie in most conditions is certainly doable, and enjoyable.
The price is a little steep at 50 bucks. If you don’t mind the cost of entry, it’s a nice accessory to have around. Just please mind other backpackers, and either choose earphones, or keep it well outside of ear shot of other campers.