Monday, April 30, 2007

Slim notebook/laptop bags review

Today’s review concerns two notebook/laptop cases. The first is a Crumpler McBain’s Baby which was my main notebook case until I bought the Tucano Work Out case, which is the other case I am reviewing. I am a fan of products by both companies (I have a Tucano case for my DAP and Jenni has a Crumpler for a digi compact).

Both cases can be bought from the high street for around £30-£40 depending on the size. Tucano makes Work Out cases for both ‘normal’ PC notebooks and those specific for certain Mac notebooks. I got the ‘normal’ PC notebook version for my IBM. Prices vary on the web of course and can be bought for as cheap as £20. However with our shrewd eBay skills we managed to obtain a large McBain's Baby for £6 and the Work Out for £5. Super bargain! Local pickup also meant no postage cost! The McBain's Baby (medium) I have is a gift.

The McBain sports a traditional and typical Crumpler design. It is very recognisable and would suit both students and hip young professionals. The case I own (medium size designed for 12” notebooks) is too small. My ThinkPad X31 could fit in just fine but there is no room for anything else. There is a small compartment on the front which you would fit a spare battery or a slim DVD-ROM drive but that’s it. I was not able to fit the power brick in it. However we were able to stuff a standard issue power brick into Jenni’s large McBain.

The Tucano Work Out bag looks fairly conservative, but equally pleasing to look at. It is very stylish and a far cry from the hip urban look of the McBain (and other Crumpler bags). The Work Out looked like something Mandarina Duck would have created (though it isn’t surprising as Tucano is an Italian brand, like MD). Compared to the medium McBain, the Workout has plenty of space. I managed to fit in a slim DVD-ROM, an external 2.5” hard drive, the power brick, a small mouse, my portable DAP as well as my huge PDA phone and still had space left for a banana.

This is impressive as the medium Work Out I had is the same size as the medium McBain (and much smaller than a large McBain). How did they do it? Well the padding isn’t as thick as the McBain, and it does not have a waterproof flap, so the space saved were used for creating pouches. While the fabric itself is waterproofed, as the zips are exposed, any notebook inside could potentially be damaged by natural elements. Not something to cycle with then.

Both the Crumpler and Tucano have its positive and negative aspects to it. I will list them here:

Crumpler McBain’s Baby (medium)
+ Waterproof
+ Thick padding
- Pitiful space for accessories (better on larger versions, though still only limited to a single accessory pocket)
- Akward

Tucano Work Out PC (medium)
+ Stylish
+ Plenty of space for accessories (even for a banana)
- Padding isn’t as thick as the McBain
- No protective flap over zip

There you go. Personally if you want a slim case and have a budget of between £25 and £35, you can't go wrong with the the Tucano Work Out. You can’t go wrong with it. The Crumpler McBain is better for cyclists (due to the weight distribution as well as the fabric) but at £35 it isn’t worth it unless you can find one below £20. If you are still keen on getting a Crumpler case but want to bring more accessories along you would be better of getting something one of their high end offerings - mainly those created for bike messengers (like the Cheesy Disco).


ph1l said...

I like the Cumpler more, but the tucano case seems more flexible. Perhaps a larger Crumpler would be better?

Anonymous said...


maggy said...
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Anonymous said...

I really like these laptop sleeves! Such a better alternative to the dark, drab and boring colors that are usually available for all things tech-related.