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We've long lamented the lack of laptop cases designed for Netbooks. The majority of bags we see are big messenger-bag-style affairs, built for the kind of bulky 15-inch laptops that shouldn't be going on the road with you in the first place. Even 13-inch laptops have finally gotten some respect, and it's now relatively easy to find a MacBook-size shoulder bag.
The STM Scout comes in a more mainstream size for laptops with 13- to 15-inch screens, but we're more interested in the version the company calls "extra small." This $49 case is small enough to not leave your Netbook swimming in it, but also large enough to include reasonable space for papers, accessories, phones, and other necessities.
The dark green canvas construction reminds us of one of our favorite laptop bags of all time, the Solo Urban Vertical Messenger, and it's a nice break from the generic gray or black nylon look of so many laptop cases (although it's not exactly boardroom friendly). There's also a little bit of a "man purse" effect, but that's a danger with any smaller shoulder bag, especially vertically oriented ones.
The Scout measures 11.6 by 9.3 by 3.1 inches, and the wide, sturdy strap is very comfortable, as it includes a large padded section (which is removable) for your shoulder.
The bag's main compartment is also heavily padded, leaving room for virtually any 10-inch Netbook, and even most 11-inch models. It's the perfect size for carrying an iPad as well, although the fit was a tiny bit tight with our padded leather iPad cover. That main protective compartment includes a Velcro-sealed top flap, which seemed a bit extraneous to us.
In front of the actual laptop section is one full-size slim pocket, in turn fronted by a deeper pocket that runs about three quarters the height of the bag. That section includes pen and notebook holders sewn into the back, as well as a small zippered compartment in its lining. The only other storage area is along the back surface of the bag, where you'll find a Velcro-sealed flat pocket, useful for carrying a few sheets of paper or a thin magazine, but not much more.
A large cover flap goes over the entire case, and connects with an oversized plastic buckle--the one cheap-feeling part of the entire bag. We would have liked to see a pocket or compartment built into that front flap; it's something we always find useful for stowing phones, iPods, etc., but even missing that, the Scout has become our go-to bag for carrying a Netbook or iPad.