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A brace of laptop bags

When you upgrade a notebook there is often more than just the cost of the computer to consider. Somehow a bright, shiny, new notebook deserves some bright, shiny accessories.
Written by First Take , Previews blog log-in

When you upgrade a notebook there is often more than just the cost of the computer to consider. Somehow a bright, shiny, new notebook deserves some bright, shiny accessories. And these include a new bag.

But what to choose? Backpack, slipcase, briefcase, casual bag, trolley, there are plenty of options. Tech Air has oodles to choose from, and sent us two to take a look at, each designed to cope with our 13.3-inch notebook with ease.

With so many bags on offer we suppose the people at Tech Air are rather daunted by the prospect of giving them names, but the numbers they are known by are not very evocative. We were sent the Z0132 and the 3714. See what we mean? The former is a modern alternative to the classic 'toploader', the latter a backpack.

The brown and cream colour scheme of the Z0132 is quite appealing, and if you don’t like it there is a black and red alternative. It is a little disappointing that the main zipped compartment does not have a divider. We’d have preferred a separator of some kind so that we could keep our notebook away from paperwork.

There are additional compartments on each side, one secured with a Velcro strop, the other zipped. Again there's a disappointment in that there are no separate holders for pens, a phone and suchlike. We always like to keep 'bits and pieces' in their own secure pockets.

There is a small amount of foam padding protecting the main pocket. This probably isn't enough to ensure complete protection from knocks and we might be tempted to use a neoprene sleeve for added security. That would also give use the ability we desire to separate notebook from papers.

The lack of frills mean this bag is quite small and neat. It comes with a shoulder strap, is shower-proof, and has a two-year warranty. It's a snip at £19.99.

The other bag Tech Air sent us is in a different league. The 3714 is a backpack and if it is pockets you want this is a good place to look for them. It'll swallow a 13.3 inch notebook easily and leave space for plenty of papers and additional odds and ends.

The notebook compartment is well padded, and on the front of its outer section there are five compartments which can perfectly well accommodate things like a mobile phone, calculator (does anyone carry one of those any more?), portable hard drive etc.

The main pocket has plenty of additional space, and a divider within it means you ought to be able to keep two sets of papers separated.

If you carry a music player, the ideal place for this is in upper of two front pockets, as this pocket has an exit hole for earphones. The lower front pocket is zipped around three of its four sides and has three pen holders, two compartments that are the right size for train tickets and a further small enclosed pocket which could accommodate a USB drive or two.

Given that this pocket has a fair amount of expansion capability we think it is underused. A mesh on its flap would have allowed all manner of odds and ends to be accommodated safely. As it is, we'd be reluctant to put small things in this pocket as they may fall out when it is fully opened.

There are four straps — two on each side — which you can use to crush the contents of the main pocket together. Not too hard, obviously.

This is the kind of backpack that could become fairly heavy. If you are a light traveller you might even get away with using it as an overnight bag. Which makes it a great pity that there's no waist strap. The shoulder straps are nicely made, though they could have more padding. There is a very well padded carrying handle too.

The 3714 has a lifetime warranty and costs £34.99.

Sandra Vogel

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