Friday, January 29, 2010

Original v 2.0

Thanks to a request from a reader (Hi, Rhonda!), I'm bumping up my planned posting comparing the two sizes of Laptop Lunchboxes. I haven't packed my lunch this week, so the 'real life' part of the comparisons will come later on, but here are a lot of comparisons and a few thoughts about the differences I see.

The first notable difference for me is that the Original (aka 1.0) has one large lidded inner container, and the 2.0 has two lidded containers - one large and one small. (These are in addition to the dip container included with each size). For examples from my "lunches" posts, check here for bento 1.o and here for bento 2.0 (scroll to the 3rd photo). I can already tell you that I love the extra lids - it was my most-wanted improvement! I've tried not to do it often, but there have been times that I've put press-n-seal wrap on one of the small containers in our 1.0s because I needed a small lidded container. The lid really gives you much more lunch-packing flexibility, especially with the Bento Buddies - four additional inner containers, one in each size, and all with lids! (Look here - fourth photo)

I also think I'm really going to like the stainless flatware that comes with the 2.0s. I currently send re-usable plasticware with my kids - we already had it, it fits in the bento, and the kids like picking it out when I pack lunches. I don't mind the plastic-handled utensils that came with the 1.0, but they don't feel nearly as substantial as the stainless flatware. Plus, it just looks more 'grown-up.' And here's how the new stainless compares to our everyday flatware:

Left to right: Dinner fork, salad fork, Laptop Lunches fork, dinner spoon, teaspoon, Laptop Lunches spoon

This next photo is the best I could do to compare the size of the actual lunchbox (the outer container). The only difference in the outer dimensions is in the depth of the container. This is why the inner containers of the 1.0 and 2.0 are not compatible (not complaining, just stating fact).

Here's a depth comparison of the large lidded inner container:
The dark green is from one of our 1.0s, and the bright green is from my new 2.0. Do you see another small difference? I'll point it out again later, so don't worry if you can't see it. It's a slight difference, but I think it'll be a noticeable improvement.

And here's another depth comparison. That's the 1.0 dip container inside one of the 2.0 large lidded containers. The photo makes the difference look like more than it really is, I think.

These are the 2.0 (left) and 1.0 (right) dip containers. The walls of the 2.0 containers are thinner than the 1.0 containers. What does this mean? The lids of these dip containers, while the same length and width, are not interchangeable. The yellow lid will not seal the blue container shut, it will just fall off because the 'groove' on the underside is too wide to fit snugly. This will probably only be mildly inconvenient for me since I have two purple dip containers from both the 1.0 and 2.0 bentos and three large, bright green lidded containers, some from each series. It does make me wonder how well these new (2.0) containers will stand up to repeated dishwashing, though they are still fairly substantial.

I've had a lot to say about the lidded containers, but what about the non-lidded containers? This is the large inner container with no lid. The one on the left is from the 2.0, the one on the right is from the 1.0.

The corners are more square on the new non-lidded containers - I'm not yet sure how I feel about that since I haven't packed a lunch in the 2.0 yet. This is the container that usually holds a sandwich, some popcorn, or some other 'dry' food, but there is the chance of some sort of food getting stuck in the corners and being difficult to get out if I'm hand washing (soy butter comes to mind...). The same changes are also seen in the small non-lidded container.

Both of these containers are from the 2.0 - you can see the difference between the lidded container with the rounded corners and the non-lidded container with the more square corners.

Remember that small difference I mentioned earlier? You might have also noticed it in my photo of the dip containers, but I think it's most visible here - the sides of the new 2.0 containers are angled. This improvement already ranks high on my list, and here's why:

Bento Storage 1.0
Step 1: Nest two small containers in large container.

Step 2: Cover with the other large container. Store dip containers elsewhere.

The containers did not nest inside each other...

But now they do!
The two large lidded containers from the 2.0 and Bento Buddies set...

Fit inside the large non-lidded container. The small inner containers also nest (the lidded inside the non-lidded) and sit nicely inside the large containers. Then the small lids and the dip container inside of that. And, since I have the Bento Buddies, too, I figured out that it'll all fit nicely into the extra-large container (just put the extra-large lid underneath to keep it all together). I typically store the inner containers inside the outer container, and stand them hinge-side-up in my cabinet (kind of like books on a shelf, spine-side-up). But sometimes it doesn't all work out that way, so I store them like you see above (1.0). With the extra containers of the 2.0, I'm glad to see that I can store them much more compactly.

Oh, before I forget, I ordered the bento sleeve for my new 2.0. My kids have the 1.0 systems with the insulated carrying case (zip case with handle), but for my needs (and since I'll primarily be the one using the 2.0), the sleeve works better. We actually have two bentos with carrying cases and three with sleeves. The carrying cases work much better for my kids, but I think the choice really depends on your own needs.

So, do I have a recommendation? A preference of 1.0 or 2.0? Remember, I haven't had a chance to pack a lunch in the 2.0 yet, but if you are new to Laptop Lunches, I would definitely recommend the 2.0. It's more a more flexible system, especially if you order the Bento Buddies. It stores so compactly - a big plus for my cabinet with 5 bentos! The new stainless flatware is a big improvement.
I do like the thicker-walled containers of the 1.0, but I imagine that once I use the 2.0 a few times this will become a non-issue.

I still see pluses for the 1.0 - the smaller size is great for my preschooler and kindergartner who have smaller appetites. I have packed my own lunch in a 1.0 quite a few times, but the extra depth of the 2.0 should give room for slightly larger portions or bulkier foods. I tend to take out the large non-lidded container of the 1.0 when I pack sandwiches for my kindergartner - the box isn't quite deep enough to not squish the sandwich a bit (see this post for photos that will explain). The 2.0 will also have more 'growing room' for older kids' appetites. We've had our boxes for about 2 years now, and they still look brand new - I expect that they will be around for a while!

Please feel free to ask questions in your comments - I'll be happy to answer them. And, if you decide to make a Laptop Lunches purchase, I hope you will use my discount code (in the right column)!

No comments: