For those occupying the corporate world, laptops are usually toted around in traditional laptop shoulder bags, or maybe a messenger-style bag, for the business casual types. Even in the roomiest of these cases, it's hard to fit a lot of stuff in, especially if you're carrying around a bulky 17-inch system. While it may not pass muster in the boardroom, a backpack is often a most logical answer for big laptops. The $69 Targus Flare backpack offers plenty of space for bigger laptops, plus extras such as a built-in rain cover and a padded back panel, it's a shame that it looks out of place anywhere outside of the student union.
Measuring 13.8 inches wide by 20 inches high by 7.5 inches deep, this nylon bag is one of the few laptop cases we've seen designed specifically for 17-inch laptops. The zippered main compartment is divided into a large front section, with two built-in mesh pockets, and a padded rear section, for your laptop. A mainstream 15-inch laptop can also fit nicely, but anything smaller would swim around too much for our tastes.
The smaller front pocket zips open to reveal a transparent slot of an ID card, plus several smaller pockets for cell phones and MP3 players, and even a built-in key fob. We also liked the water bottle holders on either side of the bag. There's no easily accessible rear pocket, which is where we usually keep newspapers and magazines, but the twin shoulder straps and back panel are the most padded we've seen.
All this adds up to a fairly standard backpack, but one final surprise tilted the scale for us. In a small compartment on the padded bottom panel is a hidden rain cover, which, when unfolded, can cover the entire front, top, and sides of the backpack. We're told this is common in camera bags, but this is one of only a handful of laptop cases we've seen with this handy built-in extra.