Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 03:35 PM
Skooba Design, formerly known as RoadWired, is one of my favourite laptop bag companies – I’ve been using their products almost exclusively for several years now, so when they release an updated design or a completely new bag I’m always eager to check it out. The new Skooba Satchel 2.0 ($99.95 USD MSRP) came out earlier this year and is available in a variety of colour combinations: gray/orange, black/blue, olive/red, khaki/black (pictured above), and black/pink. I wish they had a black/red combo - I like red, but I'm not partial to olive. Weighing in at a scant 44 ounces, this bag is quite light for its 16.75"L x 12"H x 6"D size.
The original Skooba Satchel was extremely well-designed, so I was interested to see how they improved this already strong design. Because I’m writing most of this while 38,325 feet in the air on my way to a vacation in Mexico (I took this bag with me), I can’t compare it to the original Skooba Satchel - but since the original Skooba Satchel isn't available any more it's a moot point. Let's take a look at the bag in a series of photos, shall we?
Figure 1: The Skooba Satchel 2.0 (hereafter referred to as the Satchel) is a well-designed, attractive laptop bag. It strikes the balance between being big enough to carry a useful amount of equipment, and not being so big that you don't want to carry it with you. I prefer to travel as light as possible, so the size of this bag is perfect for short trips.
Figure 2: The strap is, in a word, great. It works very well at absorbing the weight of the bag when you're moving. The logo is rather ostentatious though - given the sizable SKOOBA logo on the front of the bag, I don't see why the need to reinforce their brand on the strap as well.
Figure 3: Inside the front pouch there's a zippered mesh compartment, which is where I tend to carry my passport, wallet, phone, and travel paperwork such as plane tickets. On the inside left, there's a sizable pouch - I typically put my point and shoot digital camera in there, and my Ultimate Ears headphones. On the inside right, there's fairly narrow pouch that's perfect for my Zune 80. I'd like to see them use the space in the middle for something better than four pens or pencils. How many pens does someone need to have with them? I'd prefer to see two of the four pen compartments merged together into a single double-wide pouch, which would be a perfect size for a cable or two.
Figure 4: Inside the main compartment of the bag, there are two meshed-off areas. I tend to put a soft-cover novel inside one, and in the other I carry my iGo Juice power charger, or snacks. I'd like to have seen a few small pouches on the inside here - one of the main reasons I'll switch to the Skooba Seventeen is because the Seventeen has inside pouches here which are useful for carrying cables and other small items.
Figure 5: The center of the bag isn't very exciting. There's a velcro strap to secure the front portion together, and you can see the plastic clasp that secures the laptop in place when it's inside the laptop pouch. You could put files or papers in this area if you wanted to.
Figure 6: This is where your laptop goes, secured by the strap and protected by Skooba Design's patented "Air Square" protection system. I always put my laptop in a neoprene sleeve before putting it in this area. It easily fits my 13.3" Dell XPS M1330, and in fact will carry most 17" laptops. The exact dimensions of this space are 15" L x 10.375" H x 2" W.
Figure 7: There's a zippered pouch on the back of the bag - I typically carry paperwork or a magazine in this back pouch. It also has a velcro strap for sliding over luggage handles, allowing for easy carrying. Not shown is the side mesh pouch for a water bottle.
I've been using this bag for a few months now, and I really enjoy it - it has stood up to numerous trips, and still looks almost brand new. It's small enough to easily fit under an airplane seat, and light enough that I don't feel overloaded even if I've packed the bag to the point where nothing else fits. My only real complaints are the overly aggressive Skooba branding on the front and the strap - their logo should be on one or the other, not both. I appreciate the oversized rubberized zippers, a real improvement over the originals, but each of them bears a large white "S" on them, further reinforcing the Skooba brand. If they toned down their "brand everywhere" approach, I think the bag would have a nicer overall aesthetic. Oh, and give me a black/red combo please!
Regardless of my small personal gripes, this is a very solid and very functional laptop bag that I reccomend highly to anyone who's looking for a high-quality laptop bag to protect their electronic gear. The Skooba Satchel 2.0 continues the strong tradition of the original Satchel.
Jason Dunn owns and operates Thoughts Media Inc., a company dedicated to creating the best in online communities. He enjoys photography, mobile devices, blogging, digital media content creation/editing, and pretty much all technology. He lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his lovely wife, and his sometimes obedient dog. He has a bit of a laptop bag fetish.
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