I sometimes feel like it’s oppressively hard to get a great deal these days, especially in the netbook world. If you go with mainstream brands, you run the risk of dropping too much cash for the security of getting a product you know is good. On the other hand, going with the knockoffs and newcomers can leave you with a product that’s inexpensive but low quality.
Then again, maybe that’s because I haven’t been shopping at Skooba Design.
Skooba Design is an accessory manufacturer based in Upstate New York – “it’s quieter here, so we can think,” says the tag – and it looks like all that thinking has worked out well for them. Their new Netbook Messenger Bag is an example of the kind of product they’re known for – slightly higher on the price scale but oodles better in craftsmanship. Behold:
And the back…
The bag is decked out with a nylon twill exterior and smooth checked nylon interior, both of which are water repellent. It comes in a variety of colors – Deep Ocean Blue, Inferno Red, Blizzard White, and Abyss Black (pictured here). After handling the bag for a minute, you’ll be able to tell where care was taken to add quality. Far too many netbook accessories have crappy stitching, weak zippers, and frayed edges – none of which can be found on a brand new Skooba Netbook Messenger Bag.
Take a look at the interior:
The messenger bag uses Duraflex for all the buckles and zippers, a high quality material that won’t let you down even after repeated use. The main pocket is secured, as you can see, by a buckle and velcro for added support. Now let’s open this baby up:
The front zipper reveals several zip pockets as well as a stretchy neoprene compartments for whatever variety of accessories you want to tote around. The dedicated thumb drive slot is an added bonus. Though you can’t tell from this picture, the two pockets flanking the flash drive slot are longer and can be used for pens and pencils.
Also hidden from view is a convenient latch for key rings, sticking into the right side of the largest neoprene pocket. You can also hang the latch out of the the side to hold a Nalgene water bottle while keeping the pocket secure with the zippers. Just behind the front pocket is a zipperless folder for quick access, as you can see at the top of the image.
“Okay, great,” you say, “but why the heck is this called the Skooba Netbook Messenger Bag?”
The main compartment reveals what we’ve all been waiting for – the glorious netbook holder. The Netbook Messenger Bag fits netbooks up to 10.5″ x 7.5″ x 1.5″. That includes just about every netbook up to and including the 10-inch range.
Another fantastic feature is the fast access zipper opening on the top of the Skooba Netbook Messenger Bag, displayed below with my 13″ laptop and a notebook inside:
Even with my computer and some extra junk inside, the messenger bag had ample room for an extra netbook in the netbook pocket. While I wouldn’t be able to get my laptop out of the bag through this pocket, folders and netbooks will come out easily without you having to open the main flap. This feature is just another example of the admirable design of this netbook bag.
This image also brings me to my first and only complaint – the handle. The ability to carry this messenger bag like a briefcase would be nice, except for the fact that the handle is placed on only one side of the bag. What that means is when you hold the full bag by the handle, it hangs at an awkward angle, banging against your leg if you hold it on the close side and bouncing around awkardly if you hold it on the far side.
However, the fact that I’m complaining about such an ignorable downside is just a testament to how damn good the bag is in other respects. It’s kind of like getting a new car – if you find yourself fretting over the texture of your floor mats, you can be pretty sure you made a good purchase.
The arm strap adjuster is unbelievably usable. Rather than fiddle with the traditional setup that you find on most adjustable straps, Skooba adopted this extremely simple latch design. Just flip it open, pull the strap to where you want it to be, and shut it.
Extra strap length can be hidden in a side pocket so you don’t need to worry about it trailing around.
This is a fantastic messenger bag, to say the least. Admirable design, top notch quality, and a number of unique features set this bag above the competition, and make the $50 price tag well worth it. This one’s a keeper!
You can get the Skooba Netbook Messenger bag from Skooba Design.