When it comes to laptop bags, some people want something a little conservative, while others want something fun. The $110 Skooba Satchel 2.0 Luxe will appeal to the latter. Looking more like a weekend bag than a laptop carrier, the Skooba Satchel marries a casual exterior with high-end hardware and well-thought-out design. The color scheme, however, will limit the bag's appeal: the pale gray microsuede exterior serves as a fitting backdrop to the bright pink details, which include pink piping and a pink quilted stripe running across the front of the bag. The pinkfest continues inside the bag, which is lined with pink nylon. The bag seems a perfect fit for students and others in the Shiny Shiny crowd; those who are less enamored of pink should check out the similar Skooba Satchel 2.0, which is made of ballistic nylon and comes in a variety of colors.
A large rectangular flap on the front of the Skooba Satchel 2.0 Luxe opens via a double zipper to reveal organizer pockets: a CD-size pouch with a Velcro-closed flap, four pen loops, and a phone pocket that was big enough for our Treo 650 inside a leather case. There's also a sturdy polished nickel clasp for a key ring as well as a sleeve for business cards or an ID; the inside of the front flap is a large mesh pocket with a zipper closure. We found the space sufficient for the basic accessories that we'd take with us on a typical trip to the local coffee shop: cell phone, headset, notepad, and the like. We especially like that the front double zipper opens around three sides of the front flap--allowing easy access to the contents--but also includes accordion flaps in the corners to ensure that none of the contents fall out of the bag.
A similar double zipper opens onto the main laptop compartment of the Skooba Satchel 2.0 Luxe, though this compartment lacks the handy accordion flaps. Inside, an expandable pocket accommodates laptops with up to 17-inch screens and an adjustable strap holds your laptop in place, whatever its size. The unique padding inside the laptop pocket, which Skooba calls "Air Square," consists of small air-filled cubes that so closely resemble bubble wrap we couldn't resist pressing on them. (Unlike bubble wrap, the Air Squares don't pop.) The padding covers the fronts, sides, and bottom of the laptop pocket, providing sufficient protection for your computer in all directions. On the other side of the main compartment, a divider panel includes two large mesh pockets that keep cords and accessories contained. We really love that the panel attaches to the front of the bag via a Velcro strap, keeping its contents tucked cleanly away until you need them. Between the laptop pocket and the panel is sufficient room for files, notepads, and other paperwork.
On the back of the bag, a zipper pocket keeps a paperback, newspaper, or other reading material within close reach. Below it, a sturdy strap slips over the telescoping handle of a rolling suitcase, making it easier to carry the Skooba Satchel 2.0 Luxe through airports. Also handy for airports and other grimy public environments: four metallic feet on the bottom, which keep the bag upright and protected from dirty floors. Finally, a small zipper on the side of the bag opens to an expandable mesh pocket that's perfect for holding your water bottle.
We loaded the Skooba Satchel 2.0 Luxe with our 15.4-inch laptop, cords, travel mouse, notepad, and a 1.3-inch hardcover book, plus wallet, keys, cell phone, and other detritus of everyday living. The bag easily accommodated these items and, though full, kept a slim profile. Carrying the satchel was rather painless, thanks to the unique shoulder strap. Securely attached to the bag via D-rings and other polished-nickel hardware, the apex of the shoulder strap incorporates a stretch cord that expands slightly when pulled, allowing the weight of the bag to move with your body instead of bouncing. In addition, air squares on the underside of the strap--these covered in nonslip material--keep it from digging into your shoulder. The bag also features well-padded briefcase-style handles.
Our only complaints about the Satchel 2.0 Luxe are superficial. First, we felt rather self-conscious about the Skooba branding, which is present on both a metal badge along the front panel and embroidered quite large on the shoulder strap. (It's also subtly imprinted on some of the interior lining.) And we can't help wishing that different color choices were available; even if we were fans of pink, we'd worry about the probability of staining the light-gray exterior. However, our aesthetic preferences aside, the Skooba Satchel 2.0 Luxe is a useful and well-made bag.