Targus Corporate Traveler
The $90 Targus Corporate Traveler means serious business. The ballistic-nylon, briefcase-style case looks ready to survive the bumps and knocks of even the most aggressive travel schedule, which isn't to say that the bag is all utility with no style. The black exterior and gunmetal-gray zipper pulls, along with the absence of much obvious branding, convey a degree of professional refinement. It's just that the bag's main appeal lies in its uniquely cushioned laptop compartment, combined with ample and well-thought-out interior pockets that make it easy to stay organized (and thus stay sane) while on the road.
The front flap includes both a slip pocket (we used it to keep a paperback within easy reach) and a flap that opens, via a double zipper, into a thick, expandable pocket. Inside you'll find typical organization features, such as a business card holder, pen loops, a key fob, and pockets of various sizes for thumb drives, smartphones, and discs. Behind a divider, there's a large, zippered mesh pocket, useful for stashing plane tickets or nonessential travel paperwork, plus five handy, scratch-resistant sleeves for carrying CDs and DVDs. Above this pocket you'll find, tucked beneath one of the bag's briefcase handles, a small security pocket with a hidden zipper that's perfect for keeping your boarding pass, passport, or wallet within reach but away from sticky fingers.
Another double zipper opens just one-third of the way down each side of the bag to reveal the main laptop compartment. The removable laptop sleeve inside has a zipper, nylon handles, and flap pocket of its own; these helpful features let you ditch the main bag in your hotel room and carry just the essentials to meetings. The sleeve itself is far less padded than those in other laptop bags because the shock protection is built into the Corporate Traveler itself. Two L-shaped cushions--a combination of air and dense foam padding--line the sides and bottom of the main laptop compartment, providing protection from both vertical and horizontal impact. Velcro attachments let you adjust the placement of the cushions so they fit snugly around your laptop. A Velcro strap across the top of the compartment holds your laptop in place vertically. This unique padding seems highly effective; though CNET Labs lacks the facilities for scientific drop tests, we did make a point of banging the bag against several brick walls and dropping it from waist height onto cement. So far, the laptop inside has emerged unscathed.
We love that the double zipper on the Corporate Traveler's back compartment travels all the way down the sides of the bag--giving you easy access to all its contents--while accordion flaps at the sides keep your stuff from falling out of the bag. In this compartment you'll find two file organizers that are roomy enough for bulky legal-size files. There also are two large pockets, each with a removable accessories bag large enough to accommodate a power brick and cords. A zipper in the middle of the bag provides an extra inch of expansion if you find you've picked up too many conference brochures. The exterior of the bag includes a flap pocket with Velcro closure, a large pocket accessible via a side zipper, and a strap that slips over the handle of your rolling suitcase.
The Targus Corporate Traveler can accommodate laptops with screen sizes as large as 15.4 inches. We loaded it up with the 14.1-inch Acer TravelMate 4720, a power cord, a hardcover book, a spiral notebook, a travel mouse, and the Pocket Notebook Stand, plus pens, a cell phone, a digital camera, and other detritus for business travel. These came nowhere near filling the bag's capacity, though the weight of these contents was probably the most we'd be willing to schlep across an airport terminal. We attribute two key factors for our ability to carry the Corporate Traveler comfortably: First, the shoulder strap attaches to the bag on opposite sides (connected from an upper corner to the bottom corner of the opposite side), which more evenly distributes the weight and helps the bag stay close to your body. Second, the center of the strap, the part that comes into contact with your shoulder, flares to 3 inches wide and has an effective nonslip inner surface. What's more, this 8.5-inch-long section of the shoulder strap is made of an ultrathick-elastic material that keeps the bag from bouncing while you walk. These two design elements go a long way toward making the Targus one of the most comfortable shoulder-style laptop bags we've carried. In fact, we found little use for the bag's sturdy, leather-wrapped nylon briefcase handles, though they were handy when lifting the bag onto and off of a table.