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Kensington Contour Active Notebook Vertical Messenger - notebook carrying case review: Kensington Contour Active Notebook Vertical Messenger - notebook carrying case

Kensington Contour Active Notebook Vertical Messenger - notebook carrying case

Dan Ackerman
Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

2 min read

Messenger-style bags can make you look like, well, a bike messenger (or a disaffected hipster), while stuffy business cases look out of place on anyone not wearing wingtips. Our preferred laptop bag style these days is the saddlebag, sometimes called a vertical bag. These are longer than they are wide, and carry your laptop with the side edge facing down. Besides having a slim, attractive profile, these bags are much less likely to bang into people on the subway or knock things off of store shelves as you're walking around. While the Solo Urban Vertical Messenger remains our favorite bag of this style, the $59 Kensington Contour Active Vertical Messenger is a close second and costs around $20 less.


Kensington Contour Active Notebook Vertical Messenger - notebook carrying case

The Good

Slim vertical saddlebag design; cool interior fabric pattern; magnetic clasp; velvet interior pockets won't scratch gadgets.

The Bad

Back pocket is hard to access; material can be somewhat stiff.

The Bottom Line

The Kensington Contour Active Vertical Messenger bag is a slim and stylish case for 15-inch or smaller laptops, as long as you don't need too much extra room for accessories.

Cast in a sophisticated graphite-gray nylon, the Kensington Contour Active Vertical Messenger certainly has a more button-down look than the canvas Solo Urban, but its material feels stiffer and less comfortable. It's one of the only laptop cases we've seen that pays a lot of attention to the look of the interior, with a pattern of gray-and-blue Morse-code-like dashes printed on the interior lining. Not a particularly important feature, but it shows an attention to detail.

The main compartment has a padded laptop section that should fit all but the biggest 15-inch laptops--although putting a 15-inch model in here will be a tight fit, and won't leave much room for power bricks or accessories. Either a 13- or 14-inch laptop seems like a natural choice. The front half of the main compartment has a few pockets sewn into it, including two nice, deep ones that could hold a digital camera or other bulky item.

The front flap is held in place with magnetic clasps, which we much prefer to the annoying Velcro closures found on so many laptop cases. The front face under the flap has a zippered magazine pocket, along with three smaller, almost hidden pockets that are lined with a velvet-like material to keep delicate electronics safe from scratching. It's a great idea, but even the biggest of these three can fit only an iPod.

On the opposite side, the pocket on the rear face is also magazine-size, but we found the zippered closure annoying--the rear pocket of a laptop bag should always be open, for easy access to newspapers, airplane tickets, or other stuff you want quick access to.


Kensington Contour Active Notebook Vertical Messenger - notebook carrying case

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 0
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