Two weeks ago I started my university course studying for a Bachelor of Creative Technology (Digital Television Production). The reason I bought my MacBook Pro late last year was in preparation for this course, so of course I wanted to take it with me every day. Problem was I didn?t have a nice bag to carry everything in. My laptop backpack was too big and my laptop bag looked pretty lame.
Roadwired sent me one of their Skooba Satchels to try out, and it was my hope that it would be up to the task. It needs to be able to carry:
15? MacBook Pro
MacBook Pro Power Adaptor
Logitech VX Revolution Mouse
250GB External HDD (with power adaptor)
Music Player (my shiny new Zune will be taking the place of my 8GB nano)
Treo sync/charge cable
Couple of DVD-Rs (not in cases)
Wallet and keys
Spiral notepad and pens
Possibly a textbook on occasion
More recently a Thermaltake iXoft notebook cooler has been added to that list, making it a pretty full bag!!
The bag I received was a nice tan and black combination.
The Skooba really has three main pockets: a medium size one on top, a large one in the middle (where the laptop goes) and a magazine pocket on the bag.
The top, or rather front pocket has a separating pocket for a mobile phone, and for some CD cases.
There are also 4 pen pockets, a clip for attaching some keys (very handy!) a business card window, and a zippered mesh pocket lining the side of the pocket. A fair bit of stuff can fit in here!
Onto the main part of the bag where a laptop and a multitude of other items can go. This pocket has three partitioned areas.
The laptop pocket is towards the back of the bag, and is lined with some kind of cushioning material which RoadWired appropriately call their ?Air Square protection system?. It is kind of hard to describe, but it is similar to bubble wrap in that there are dozens of 1cm square ?cushions? to protect the laptop against bumps and drops. While the MacBook Pro case may be sturdy, I don?t think it would take much of a drop to dent or bend it.
My MacBook Pro fits quite loosely in the pocket, as most 1 5.4? laptops area lot fatter than it is (my sisters Dell Inspiron 6400 borders on twice as thick). My beloved old IBM ThinkPad 380D is a bit too fat for this bag, but if necessary it would fit 😛
The other two separated pockets don?t have any special protection, but they do have a fair bit of room. The great thing about the Skooba is when it?s relatively empty (say just a slender laptop and a few things in the front pocket) it is quite thin, but it can expand out to hold a LOT more stuff when necessary.
In these two pockets I quite comfortably fit my external HDD (with AC), Logitech VX, Thermaltake iXoft and MacBook power adaptor, none of which are particulary thin items. The VX may be small, but its pretty fat.
I was a bit nervous about cramming all that in the bag right next to my MacBook Pro, but with the bag expanding and the cushions protecting my MBP, it doesn?t worry me anymore.
On the bag is a magazine pocket which fits my spiral bound notebook quite nicely, as well as a fair few sheets of page that are handed out by my teachers. There is also a strap for putting over a suitcase handle.
Now with all this stuff in the bag it does get quite heavy. Fortunately the bag doesn?t add much to that weight, but a bag that can carry lots of stuff isn?t really very good if you can?t carry it comfortably. The Skooba comes with a nice shoulder strap that can really be worn two ways, either just slung over the shoulder like a regular laptop bag or over your neck.
It is comfortable for a time either way, but after about ten minutes with it packed full, it does get a bit uncomfortable. This isn?t the fault of the strap though, as the bag is definitely heavy when it has everything in it. With a lighter load (MacBook Pro, MBP power adaptor, and a few things in the front pocket) it is quite comfortable for a longer period.
One thing that really annoys me is when the straps creak as the bag moves around. I had a laptop bag that would creak when the clips holding the strap to the bag would move, and it was EXTREMELY annoying. Fortunately it is not present on this bag ?
There are also two lightly padded handles that are also quite comfortable, and don?t dig into the hand.
On the side of the bag is a tiny zippered pocket concealing a mesh drink bottle holder.
The holder hangs off the side of the bag, and because it really isn?t secured to the bag (just sewn to the interior of the zipper pocket) it has a tendency to swing around. But it is definitely better than nothing, as there is not room for a 600mL Pepsi bottle in the bag 😛
The Skooba is made of ballistic nylon and neoprene, and is very well made. It certainly feels like it will last through the abuse it will get with daily train commutes and trekking through Sydney.
So does it fit all of that gear that I listed at the beginning of the review? Amazingly it does, and doesn?t break a sweat!! Even with all of those items in the bag there is still a bit of room. The bag expands nicely to accommodate all the extra gear, and it doesn?t put any extra strain on my MacBook Pro.
Here splayed out you can see everything that I have in my Skooba. Unbelievable!
I am very happy with the Skooba bag. It is lightweight, and can be used as both a compact laptop bag and when needed expands to fit a large amount of gear. I have been using it for two weeks so far to and from uni, and it has been superb. It is easily the best laptop bag I have ever used, and highly recommend it to anyone. It is also quite reasonably priced considering its high quality. Buy one now!!
The RoadWired Skooba Satchel is available from the manufacturer and other retailers.
What I Like: Excellent construction, light weight, expands to fit a LOT of gear, good protection for the laptop, good price
What Needs Improvement: Absolutely nothing!! This bag is brilliant!