The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

During Jerry’s and my meeting with Kensington during CES, I had ample opportunity to admire their new Contour Balance line. As described on their site:

With lightweight microfiber materials, sleek organization, Contour features to minimize strain, concealed pockets and DropShield® notebook padding for protection, these cases doesn’t compromise form for function and style.

One of my wistful complaints at the time was that a bag was not available to fit my 17″ Toshiba. While there still isn’t a bag large enough for “value-sized” laptops, it no longer matters quite so much to me since I now own a 15″ MacBook Pro. When I was offered the chance to take a look at their Contour Balance Notebook Case, it took me all of 30 seconds to respond, “Brown, please.”

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

The front side

Once the bag arrived, it was just as I remembered: trim, feminine, and loaded with features. Make no mistake about it; this is no plane brown wrapper; white stitching is used to break up the monochrome brown. A complementary pattern of brown interlocking ovals and rounded rectangles cover the contrasting beige microfiber material.

Let’s take a look inside, shall we?

Both sides of this approximately 19″ wide x 11.75″ tall x 4″ deep bag feature 16″ wide x 12″ tall open pockets formed by the space between the layers of the bag and its handles. These will prove very handy when carrying items that need to be immediately accessed, such as newspapers, tickets, or other paperwork. A cool feature of the handles’ design is that they are kept layered together by using a 0.75″ magnet strip sewn between each handle’s fabric layers. When they are clasped together in this manner, they also help secure anything held in these large open pockets; the handles easily separate to provide access to the bag’s interior.

The Contour Balance Notebook Case is lightweight (2 pounds 10 ounces with shoulder strap), and due to the materials from which it is composed, dirt and water-resistant. Should the bag get dusty or covered in pecan pollen – as happened during my photoshoot, it can be easily cleaned by wiping it down with a water-dampened cloth.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

Note the shoulder strap, which, when not needed, can be easily tucked in one of the open side pockets.

The backside of the bag, shown below, has what Kensington calls an “Air-Flo Contour™ Panel,” which is basically a padded and seamed panel which  “dissipates heat and hugs the body for greater comfort and carrying ease.” The removable and adjustable shoulder strap can be worn either bandolier-style or on the shoulder; there is a 7.75″ long x 2″ wide x 0.5″ thick pad sewn into the 1.5″ woven nylon shoulder strap.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

The backside.

There are three interior zippered compartments revealed when the bag’s handles are pulled apart. The two outer compartments’ zippers have 1.25″ metal pulls which are stylishly shaped and easy to grasp; the middle compartment’s zippers have 2″ long pulls. Feeling the difference in pulls makes it easier to open the correct compartment without looking at the bag, which should prove handy when a stealthy file or mobile phone retrieval is called for.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

The first compartment measures 14″ wide x 10.5″ tall, and it has a 12″ wide x 8″ tall zippered pocket worked into its exterior wall. This pocket would be perfect for carrying files or other slim flat objects.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

The 14″ wide x 10.5″ tall x 3″ deeply padded and quilted notebook compartment has an “AirBrake™ bottom cushion” to protect the laptop from bumps when the bag is set down. This compartment is sized to fit almost all laptops with up to a 15″ screen; it is so deep that I can actually carry my MBP and a slim paperback book (or two!) together.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

The final 14″ wide x 10.5″ tall zippered compartment opens to reveal an organization system built into each wall. A quick run-down of the pocket on the exterior wall reveals two 5″ wide x 4.5″ tall open pockets on either side of a lipstick (or gum) pocket and three pen pockets. The interior wall has three 4.5″ wide x 8.5″ tall pockets, which can be used to organize cables, a slim power brick, or other oddly shaped and bulky items. Slim items can also be stowed in the middle, between the pocketed walls.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

Last but not least are the two 2.5″ deep x 3.25″ wide pockets on either side of the bag’s exterior, which can each hold either the shoulder strap (when it’s not in use), a water bottle, a compact umbrella, or other similarly sized items.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

The bag’s bottom has six protective metal feet, but this is where the real story of why the bag is called “contour” is revealed. The inner curve is the backside of the bag; as you can probably imagine, it allows the bag to curve gently and securely against the wearer’s body.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

One last thing to point out is the subtle branding on the lower right of the bag’s front; the same embroidered logo is sewn on the shoulder pad. Everything about this bag is very nicely done, and everything about it appears to have been very well planned.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review

Overall, I am quite pleased with the Contour Balance Notebook Case; it is a surprisingly feminine bag with plenty of pockets and space for all of your gear. For those of you who prefer black, that color is also available. For the money, I don’t know that you could find a better bag.

The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case is available from the manufacturer’s site and other retailers.

MSRP: $79.99

What I Like: Extremely well made; feminine; loads of pockets; made of easy to care for dirt and water-repelling materials; detachable and stowable shoulder strap

What Needs Improvement: I know there are women with 17″ laptops who are looking wistfully at this bag…that’s all I’m going to say! 😉

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

3 Comments on "The Kensington Contour Balance Notebook Case Review"

  1. Hi Judie,

    Thanks for the great review of the bag. I am currently looking to buy a new laptop case as my current Antler backpack is ruining my clothes. The friction between the backpack and clothes has caused my dress and tops to pile. I read your review with interest. I am using the Dell E5430 with the following dimension according to the Dell website:

    Width: 13.78″ / 350mm
    Height: (front/back) 1.18″/29.90 to 1.28″/32.5mm
    Depth: 9.45″ / 240mm

    I would like to seek your views if my laptop will fit the Kensington bag? I normally keep my laptop and the adapter. I have been reading too many measurements here and there, it doesn’t help when I am not the most tech savvy person despite being in the corporate line. I fell in love with the Kensington design and it is selling at a much higher price in my country. I recently saw that it is now selling for GBP16.99 via eBay. As I am unable to view the bag and try if my laptop fits, I will be grateful if you can advise. Thank you!

  2. Hi Jennifer, This bag’s laptop compartment is 14? wide x 10.5? tall x 3? deep, so your laptop should easily fit! =)

  3. Hi Judie, Thank you very much for your response! You made my day 🙂 Whee, to a brand new and not boring looking laptop bag!

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