Bag your laptop computer right

Chad Waring

Well it seems as though you have survived the first semester of the school year, but has your notebook computer case made it with you? Or did it not make it past Thanksgiving? A computer case is like your own secret service agent, looking out to prevent any damage to your laptop and protecting your investment in the event of danger.

There are plenty of different cases to choose from. The two main categories are the over-the-shoulder bag and the backpack. The shoulder bag is the classic way to secure your computer and its accessories. Typically, these bags offer the best protection since the whole case is based around the computer. If you like to bring all of your cables and disks with you, a shoulder bag has plenty of pockets and extra compartments. For added fashion sense, there are both leather and nylon styles. Depending on the brand, the leather version can cost almost twice as much as the nylon, but if you’re all about function, a good nylon case will outlive a leather one.

The size variation among shoulder bags allows for any type of travel style. If you can get by with just the essential laptop, you’ll find cases that are more like a glove for the computer. On the other hand, if you like to bring your computer, a notebook and a textbook, there are cases that allow you to unzip and expand the storage size of the bag.

Now if you’re not completely ready to throw away the backpack, or if it’s just a little more your style, backpacks have grown up with you. No longer do they sport the bright colors or cartoon logos from your childhood, but they have reinforced straps, cell phone pockets and padded laptop compartments. A backpack offers huge amounts of room, which allows you to carry a couple textbooks in addition to your laptop. Even if your load is not exceedingly large, a backpack can better distribute the weight over your two shoulders, rather than a shoulder bag that puts the entire weight on one shoulder. If your trek takes you across campus many times a day, a backpack is something to consider to ease those pains at the end of the day.

By this point you have probably figured out that there are many different laptop cases to choose from. There are many different brands, from strictly luggage manufacturers, to fashion designers. It is very difficult for me to tell you an exact case to look for, but I can tell you what features you should insist on.

First, think about how much abuse you will put your bag through, and if you want to go the leather or nylon route. Once you have this in mind go out to the stores to touch and feel the bags. I would discourage buying a case online, simply because every case is different and unless you want to go through the hassle of returning a case or two until you find the right one, stick to the stores. Check out the normal computer and office supply stores, but also go into some luggage and department stores: oftentimes if you know what to look for, you can make out with some sweet deals.

When you identify a case that fits your style, check the insides. You must determine how many compartments and pockets it will have. You need to make sure there is a well padded laptop sleeve, at least a quarter of an inch thick. More importantly though, make sure it is the size to fit your laptop. The HP laptops are about 15 inches by 15 inches. The final thing to check is its toughness. Check the seams where the handles, zippers and other parts are sewn together, and make sure they are firmly connected, with a couple of extra rows. Then look at how the strap or straps are connected to the case. Plastic connecters are good as long as they aren’t mistreated or pushed in directions that it is not supposed to go. Metal connectors will protect against abuse, but make sure it is lubricated in the joint, otherwise the metal will grind against itself and break.

No matter what you find, a rule of thumb is you get what you pay for. Sometimes you can find an off brand that has a good case, just make sure you check it over. The leader in shoulder cases is Targus, and their selection is very large. Eastpak, the king of high school halls, makes a couple packs that include a laptop sleeve. Check them out, and take your time. A good case will last you many years and many computers.

If you have questions, comments or suggestions email Chad at [email protected].