I need to get a bag for my 14-inch laptop, so I can take it with me on trips and on holiday. I'd like one that keeps my laptop safe, but it would be great if it looked good too. Can you help me?
Thanks for your question, Chris. There are so many bags suitable for laptops that choosing the right one can be tricky. The most important thing is to keep your laptop safe, dry and inconspicuous, but that doesn't mean you have to carry around an ugly bag. Due to new security measures at airports you might want to find a compact bag that doesn't measure more than 450mm wide by 350mm tall by 160mm deep.
Whenever I see people carrying around standard laptop bags, I can't help but cringe for several reasons. First off, those bags scream, 'I've got a laptop in here', which is going to make you a target for thieves. They're also ugly, lacking in extra pockets and uncomfortable -- carrying a laptop on one shoulder is not good for your back.
Fortunately, there are alternatives. If you carry your laptop to and from work, you can't go wrong with a backpack-style bag as it supports the weight of the device on both shoulders. Look for backpacks with padding to protect your laptop against knocks and falls, and with extra compartments for your mobile phone and other gadgets. You should also make sure it doesn't stick out too much, or you'll be knocking people over every time you turn round. Unfortunately, these bags are no longer suitable for taking on a plane as they're usually too big.
Alternatively, you could get a small, single-strap bag that has padded straps and can be carried diagonally across your back like bike messengers do. These design features mean it won't hurt your back as much. Small versions of this style of bag have got themselves the name 'manbags'. These types of bags are convenient for storing the bare essentials (including your laptop) and are better for taking on a plane due to their size. However, be prepared for comments from others jealous of your trendy manbag -- they may not understand this new piece of fashion.
Finally, you could just buy a sleeve to protect your laptop. These can be used on their own, such as when you carry your laptop onto the plane, or can be put into a larger bag, such as your suitcase.
There are different options, but these are my preferred bag types. Whatever style you get, you should make sure it has some protection against wear, tear and drops. Some bag manufacturers provide protective hard shells that act as a solid barrier between your stuff and foreign objects, while others use air pockets to absorb any shocks.
There are quite a few good laptop bag manufacturers around including, tech air, Axio, Crumpler, Targus, Slappa, be.ez, Gravis, Pakuma, JanSport, Timbuk2, knomo, foofbag, Acme made, Casauri, Tucano and Voltaic. Quite a few of these brands are available from the LaptopStuff Web site.