Notebook Case Buyers Guide

Notebook Case Buyers Guide

by Sarah Meyer

If you just bought a brand new notebook a new bag to protect this very important piece of equipment could be a great gift idea for friends, loved ones, or even yourself. Our case buyers guide examines the different styles of notebook cases, provides the pros and cons of each, and links to reviews, manufacturers websites and low prices.

In short, this is your best resource for finding the perfect bag!

Overview of Notebook Bag Types


If you want a bag that has a classy look, and fits seamlessly into the business world, than a briefcase notebook case is the way to go. They have all different styles at varying prices so you really can’t go wrong. Below are a few of the reviews and pictures we’ve done on to give you an idea of what I’m talking about.

The Tom Bihn Zephyr Briefcase – $140-215

The Tom Bihn Zephyr is a quality bag and with its unique style and color it’s not your traditional briefcase. While expensive, the Zephyr starts at $140, it’s definitely worth the money since it’s made with quality materials and is backed by a lifetime warranty.

Targus Corporate Traveler Case Review – $73

Targus is known for making stylish bags at an affordable price. This briefcase (shown is the 15.4″ case) is a more traditional briefcase notebook case. It’s all black and has a simple style. And at the starting price of $73, it won’t break the bank.

Messenger Bags

Messenger bags can be and are used by a variety of people in various stages of their lives. Many students use a messenger bag because they prefer them to backpacks. At the same time many professionals who don’t want the “stuffiness” of a briefcase style bag are interested in messengers. They are also great for the road warrior, since they can make a handy carry-on as well as notebook carrying devices.

Chrome Metropolis Messenger Bag Review -$135

The Chrome Metropolis Messenger is a very stylish bag and comes in a variety of colors. While it’s on the higher end of the price scale, they have the following of people who know about messengers, “the bicycle messenger crowd.” It could also make a great bag for a student.

Skooba Satchel 2.0 review – $99

Skooba, formally RoadWired, puts out variety of notebook carrying cases. This messenger-style bag is more traditional in the sense it’s resembles a briefcase but wears more like a messenger. It’s a better choice for those of you looking for a more cost efficient bag than a Chrome or Tom Bihn but still want quality.

Rolling Cases

We haven’t had many rolling cases to review at but these bags can definitely be handy. In theory they work as luggage as well as a safe place to keep your notebook.

Kensington Contour Overnight Notebook Roller Review – $129

The Kensington Roller is a great example because it is luggage with a protective sleeve for a notebook. The perfect size to carry-on, you can protect your notebook and be assured that your clothes and toothbrush are safely above your head.


Backpack notebook cases are definitely geared towards students and young professionals. Varying in style, color and pricing, it’s easy to find the perfect backpack for you whether you are just starting high school, a college student, or a young (at heart) professional.

Mobile Edge Express Backpack Review – $60

Mobile Edge puts out a great backpack. They sell other styles and even have a line dedicated strictly to women, but they make a pretty great backpack. The Express is a great backpack for a student because the price is low, the design is perfect for textbooks, etc. and it’s still stylish.

CODi Sport-Pak Backpack Review – $168

CODi also puts out its fair share of backpacks and they are definitely quality bags. However, the price range be high for students so this might be the bag for those who have some spare change. Plus, the simple design and solid black color might be more appropriate in an office environment.

Slip Cases

Slip cases, or notebook sleeves, are very important when trying to protect your notebook. Most notebook carrying cases have their sleeves built into the bag but many companies also sell the sleeves separately. That way you can use any bag you like and just slip in your custom sleeve.

DIY Skooba Skin Notebook Sleeve Review – $28

Skooba has a ton of different sleeves on their website but the Design It Yourself sleeve has to be the most unique as well as fun. It’s also a quality sleeve with a good amount of padding without the high price tag. (Don’t make fun of the Bengal or the artist).

Sumdex ImpactGuard Notebook Sleeves – $35

While this review be a little old, this product is still fresh. The Sumdex notebook sleeve will help protect your notebook or tablet with its patented “Impact Guard.” It be a little more than other sleeves on the market, the 13.3″ case starts at $35 and the 17″ case is around $46, it could be worth your money to spend a little extra to protect your investment.


Totes are typically geared towards stylish female professionals and college students who want to protect their notebook without having to give in to the all black briefcase/backpack that runs rampant over all the bag companies.

Targus Fandango Tote review – $90

As mentioned before, Targus puts out a reasonably priced bag; their Fandango Tote is no exception. It’s simple, stylish tote that can go with anything. No one will have any idea what you’re really toting around.

Mobile Edge Monaco Notebook Case Review – $100

This tote is part of Mobile Edge’s For Her collection. They have a great selection of totes and briefcases for women. The Monaco is one of more cost efficient bags on their website at $99.99 and is easy on the eye.


Convertibles are great because they can give you options. They come in all different styles. The rolling case below is also a backpack and we have reviewed a backpack/messenger bag convertible. Convertibles are whatever you want them to be but sometimes you lose a little in translation.

Targus Solitaire Backpack Review -$70

The Solitaire is not only a backpack but can be converted into a vertical style messenger. You get twice the bang for your 70 bucks while still protecting your laptop.

Targus 15.4″ Rolling Notebook Backpack Review – $70

As usual, Targus put out an affordable alternative even in the rolling cases market. This is great for those business travelers on a budget.

Price Ranges

All notebook carrying cases vary in price depending on the style of bag and the company that makes it. Some companies are known for being more affordable such as Targus, or Mobile Edge. While others, like Tom Bihn, are going to be more expensive but come with better warranties and guarantees.

Also, many times you can find the bag you want at retail stores or through online bargain shopping for less than the manufacturer is selling it. So if money is an issue, it’s important to look around before purchasing a case.

Honestly, just like when you’re buying your notebook, you get what you pay for. Sometimes you can find a deal, but if you really want a quality, unique bag you might spend more than you expect.

I’ve tried to include starting prices with all the reviews above and you can also get prices by clicking the manufacturers links below.

Important Features and Possible Problems


As mentioned before, briefcases are great for the “professional” because they can give you the same benefits as normal briefcase while protecting your notebook. The biggest problem I see with getting a notebook carrying briefcase is that you lose the safety. I haven’t seen the locks that come on traditional briefcases on any notebook carrying briefcase. I’m sure they’re out there, but they are going extremely expensive.

Messenger Bags/ Backpacks

Messenger Bags/backpacks are more adaptable than briefcases. You don’t lose security with these bags because they were never that secure to begin with. I have seen locking zippers on these bags to help you secure your notebook but they aren’t foolproof as you might imagine.

Also, you need to watch out for the really cheap bags in these styles. They often lack the padding of a briefcase or sleeve and that can be big problem since you’re buying them to protect your very expensive laptop.

They have great features too. With these styles of cases you get a much larger selection when it comes to design options and color combinations. Bigger compartments for more storage and media pockets and ports for your electronic devices are also standard on many of these bags.

Rolling Cases/Convertibles

Rolling cases can be very handy but they often lose the comfort because of the metal bars and handles. The same goes with convertibles, you often lose other important features and padding because you can switch the styles.

Also, many bags these days – briefcases, messengers, and backpacks – are being designed with rolling case sleeves. This way you can attach the bags to a rolling case without losing the comfort.

Slip Cases

Slip cases are great because they are often very unique and give you an added sense of protection. They can also turn a normal backpack or messenger into a notebook carrying case for less then just buying the bag with an already attached sleeve.

The biggest problem with these is that you can’t really carry them around by themselves and they don’t allow for additional storage. Many companies have recently started adding hooks to the sleeves and selling shoulder straps for an extra cost but you still lose out on the storage.


Totes are great for females because the overwhelming majority of briefcases, messengers, and backpacks seemed to be designed for/geared towards men.

With the totes, they are often made in multiple colors and are designed to look like large purses. Now, you can have it all ladies.

The major problem with totes are that there aren’t many options and many lack in the padding that you would find in the other bags. Just be careful when purchasing these.


There are so many choices out there when it comes to notebook carrying case. With all of the different style, companies, looks, prices, etc. purchasing a bag can be very confusing. But the two most important things when buying a bag are padding and style. Padding because the reason you are buying this is to PROTECT your notebook. Who cares what the bag looks like, or costs if your $1000+ notebook gets destroyed, right? Style is second, because who wants to carry a bag that is uncomfortable or ugly?

It’s hard to go wrong if you just remember your goal; to find a bag that protects your very expensive machine that you can wear everyday!

Review Links

Here are links to other bags we’ve reviewed on

  • Targus Flare Backpack
  • Targus Rogue Backpack
  • Targus CityGear Chicago Backpack
  • Targus Gerney Backpack
  • Targus 15.4″ Radius Convertible Messenger/Backpack
  • Wenger SwissGear Synergy Backpack
  • Wenger SwissGear Impulse Briefcase
  • SwissGear Sierra Notebook Case
  • CODi Tri-Pak Backpack
  • Mobile Edge Select backpack
  • Alienware Odyssey Messenger
  • Tom Bihn Empire Builder
  • Tom Bihn Ego Messenger
  • Tom Bihn Super Ego Messenger
  • Tom Bihn Buzz Backpack
  • Tom Bihn Buzz Sling Backpack
  • Osprey Focus Laptop Bag Review
  • Kensington Contour backpack
  • Kensington Contour Cargo Notebook Case Review
  • Logitech Kinetik Backpack
  • Timbuk2 Commute XL messenger-style bag
  • becase notebook sleeve

Manufacturer Links

  • ACME
  • becase
  • booq
  • Chrome
  • CODi
  • Crumpler
  • Elecom
  • Kensington
  • Logitech
  • Mobile Edge(Alienware) (NBR visitors get FREE Shipping + 10% discount at Mobile Edgeby visiting here)
  • Osprey Focus
  • Oxio
  • Skooba(formally RoadWired)
  • Targus
  • Timbuk2
  • Tom Bihn
  • Vaja
  • WaterField (SFBags)
  • Wenger SwissGear





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