Chrome : Blackbox

Pros Good handel. Elastic shoulder strap is very comfortable even with a full load. Average protection.
Cons Extremely limited space. No real exterior pockets.
Retail Price : $ 100.00

Chrome : BlackboxThis bag offers great protection for your 14inch iBook. Unfortunately, because of its narrow profile, it can’t really carry much else.

The main compartment has a foam, removable sleeve that gives added protection for the laptop. But the sleeve can’t be used without the bag for two reasons; First, it doesn’t have a flap or other way to close the sleeve. Second, the 14inch iBook stands about two inches higher than the top of the sleeve.

So, the sleeve adds protection but takes up valuable space in an already small compartment. After slipping the iBook into the protective case, I had trouble putting a 350 page hardback book into the same compartment. Forget a digital camcorder or anything else with bulk.

The only two exterior pockets are, for all intents and purposes, useless because they don’t have any closures, and are only about three inches deep. The main flap can, if cinched completely, cover the openings. But I tried putting—at different times, separately—keys, change, a cell phone, a pocket knife, and a few business cards in the pockets. Everything fell out, either in my car or the street or the floor of my office.

There is a semi-exterior compartment, covered by another flap that clips down well. It has a sleeve of built-in CD-ROM holders, which is a nice touch. There are two, fairly large pockets inside that can easily hold my Palm Pilot, cell phone and wallet. But in order to get to any of them, you have to open both the main and interior flaps. Not something I want to have to do repeatedly.

And here’s the clincher. With the iBook, the hardback book, Palm Pilot, cell phone and wallet…I couldn’t get the two flaps closed well. I had to take the book back out.

But, Chrome definitely has something going with its strap. Because, even fully loaded, the elastic kept the weight from digging into my shoulders. Even on long walks between freelance gigs, I never once felt like I had to adjust the position of the bag to take weight off a pressure point. Yet the elastic wasn’t too loose either; The bag never hung down or stretched too low.

As far as looks are concerned, it kind of felt like they were trying to go futuristic, but landed in a 1980’s version of hip, outer-space design instead of finding something new and intriguing.

Overall, the bag offers good protection and great comfort. If those are your only, or at least primary, concerns, check it out. Otherwise, it might not be the best bag for your needs.

Reviewed by: Mathew O'Connel


Review Rating

Construction 8
Comfort 9
Organizational Features 3
Protection 6
Aesthetics 5