30 April 2009

Solo Netbook Mini Instant-Messenger Bag

The Solo Netbook Mini Instant-Messenger bag is designed to carry up to an 11-inch netbook and meets TSA checkpoint-friendly requirements. Is this downsized messenger finally the bag your netbook has been waiting for? Read on for our full review.

We’ve seen our fair share of netbook sleeves, but the Solo Netbook Mini messenger bag counts as the first full-featured netbook bag we’ve reviewed in-house. It certainly offers more storage than a sleeve, and with an airport security checkpoint-friendly design, there’s a lot to like here. Still, we have a couple of reservations about recommending the mini messenger bag.


* Netbook Compatibility: 11.0 in.
* Laptop Pocket Size: 11 x 6.5 x 2 in.
* Dimensions: 11 x 7 x 4.75 in.
* Construction: Twistec Poly
* Weight: 2.3 lbs / 5.8 kgs

Build and Design
The Solo netbook messenger bag is made of black, water-resistant polyester accented in green. A plastic buckle keeps the front flap closed, and a couple of metal clasps hook to the shoulder strap. Open the flap and you’ll find two “Digital Asset” pockets designed to securely stow PDAs and other slim devices.

Being a checkpoint-friendly bag, it has a designated netbook-only compartment to give TSA security officials a clear x-ray view of the computer. The other compartment offers a couple of padded pockets and more storage space.

A Velcro strap along the bottom of the bag releases the dual compartments, allowing them to unfold for TSA inspection. If all goes well, you’ll just unfold the bag, send it through the x-ray scanner, and pick it up on the other side without ever removing the netbook. Of course, TSA has the upper hand here and can always ask you to remove the computer from your bag.

In Use
The Solo netbook bag feels sturdy and the build quality is solid. The Lenovo IdeaPad S10 fits perfectly in the netbook compartment, bulky battery and all. The shoulder strap hooks to the bag with sturdy metal clasps. The adjustable strap is comfortable on the shoulder with a sliding, cushioned shoulder rest. The carry handle is also well-padded and would work well for day-to-day use.

Despite the comfortable strap and carrying handle, the mini messenger bag handles like a lunch box. It's square and bulky even when it's empty. Loaded with the S10, power adapter, and a few devices in the "Digital Asset" pockets, there’s little room for anything else. Likewise, the outer zipper pockets will be best suited to hold very slim devices when the bag is full since they're pretty tight to begin with.

The messenger bag provides enough room for a netbook, power adapter, a couple of slim devices, and not much else. It's best suited to carry only minimum netbook essentials. Unless you travel very lightly, this won't replace your carry-on bag.

We didn’t have a chance to test this messenger in airport security, but my experience with checkpoint-friendly bags has been positive. It seems that as TSA officials see more checkpoint-friendly bags, the more widely accepted they are becoming.

The Solo netbook messenger bag is exactly what it appears to be – a very small bag for a small computer. Despite a boxy design, it’s a well-constructed little case. While it provides all the space your netbook will need, it can’t offer much more than that. If you don’t mind the lunchboxy design, and if all you need is a home-away-from-home for your netbook, then this might be the bag for you.


* Quality materials, sturdy design
* Airport security checkpoint friendly
* Comfortable shoulder strap


* Bulky, boxy design
* Limited storage space

Pricing and Availability
The Solo Netbook Mini Instant-Messenger Bag is available starting at $39.99 through.

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