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.”
One 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, and a complimentary 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 which need to be immediately accessed, such as newspapers, tickets, or other paperwork. A cool feature to the handles’ design is that they are kept layered together by the use of 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 photo shoot, it can be easily cleaned by wiping it down with a water dampened cloth.
The back side 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.
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. Being able to feel 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 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 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 ande a slim paperback book (or two!) together.
The final 14″ wide x 10.5″ tall zippered compartmet 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.
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 bottom of the bag has six protective metal feet, but ths is where the real story of why the bag is called “contour” is revealed. The inner curve is the back side of the bag; as you can probably imagine, it allows the bag to curve gently and securely against the wearer’s body.
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.
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.
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! 😉