Friday, February 19, 2010
Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 08:00 AM
The third and final Skooba Design product that I'm taking a look at in this burst of laptop/netbook related products is their Netbook Messenger bag. It sells for $49.95 USD, and comes in Abyss Black, Blizzard White, Deep Ocean Blue, and Inferno Red. I won't repeat myself here - go check out my opinion on the colour of Inferno Red in this review. The bag measures in at 14.5"L x 12"H x 3"D and weighs a scant 24.8 ounces. It's a light, compact bag that's been extremely well thought out.
Figure 1: The Skooba Design Netbook Messenger Bag in real life.
On the front of the bad there's a medium-sized zippered pouch - I like the fact that the zipper tassels (if that's what they're called) match the colour accent of the bag and are big enough to quickly grab a hold of. The top of the bag has zippered access to the main storage compartment. This means you can gain access to your netbook without having to flip up the messenger flap on the bag. Smart thinking! There's a small handle up top as well, though because it's a single handle, it makes for a rather unbalanced experience when carrying the bag in this way. I'd have preferred to see two handles, or nothing at all.
On the left side of the bag, there's a tight neoprene pouch where part of the non-removable shoulder strap stows away. There's also a vertical zipper that, when opened, allows you to pull out the mesh water bottle holder. Also in this space is a horizontal storage area that runs the width of the bag and is around four inches in height. I never found a good use for this space, but it's nice to have extra storage that's largely hidden. The right side of the bag has the same tight neoprene pouch for the shoulder strap. The rear of the bag has a Velcro-secured pouch big enough for several magazines. It doesn't have a rear strap for sliding over a luggage handle.
Figure 2: The neoprene storage compartments.
Figure 3: The mesh storage compartments.
When you lift the front flap, you'll see a zippered off area - undoing the two zippers gives you access to a number of storage pouches. There are two wide and deep pouches - one zippered off, one open-topped neoprene pouch - and five more pouches of varying sizes. You can easily store all sorts of gadgets here: MP3 player, point and shoot digital camera, headphones, and paperwork. There are two pen slots, and a USB flash drive holder - though be sure to pack a skinny USB flash drive. There's a hook to hang your keys from as well.
Figure 4: On the left, the mesh storage area for the netbook's power supply, and on the right, the storage area for the netbook.
Moving toward the inside, there's a large open-top storage area that runs the height and width of the bag. I imagine paperwork would fit well here. Moving inward by one level, we get to the netbook storage area. Skooba Design made a very smart decision here: they opted to have the netbook stored vertically. This allows the overall width of the bag to be kept fairly narrow, and right next to the netbook storage pouch - which is secured at the top by a Velcro strap - there's a mesh storage pouch that's big enough to handle the charging brick and cables of any netbook on the market today. The netbook pouch will fit a netbook up to 10.5" x 7.5" x 1.5" in size, which is most netbooks with a 10.1" screen.
The new Dell Mini 10 is 7.8 inches deep and won't fit in this pouch though. It would have been nice to allow for an extra inch of netbook depth, but I understand the desire to have the pouch be as form-fitting as possible. Ultimately this is the challenge now with netbooks "breaking the mold" and changing dimensions to accommodate larger batteries (which is what the new Dell Mini 10 has done). It's also worth noting that the pouch doesn't fit a netbook already inside a Neo-Sleeve; you'll have to pick one type of protection or the other.
Figure 5: The branding is subtle on the Netbook Messenger, which I appreciate.
The Skooba Design Netbook Messenger is an extremely well designed netbook bag, with well thought out features and a reasonable price tag. If I could change one thing about it, it would be to either allow the shoulder strap to be removable (so I could add a Skooba Superbungee to it), or to add some rubber grip to the underside of the shoulder strap to prevent slippage. It would also be great to see a slightly larger version of this bag as well, perhaps something to fit netbooks and laptops in the 12" screen range. Oh, and I'd make the Inferno Red really be red...
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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, his son Logan, and his sometimes obedient dog. He likes the colour red - a lot.
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