I needed a new bag for my laptop when mine broke. I went to the London Drugs computer department and the Targus CityGear Paris Notebook Messenger Case caught my eye. It was really cute and sporty-looking, and looked very well made. The best part was that it came with a neoprene slipcase for your laptop that would provide even more protection while cozied up in the bag, or provide at least minimal protection if you wanted to carry your laptop separately or put it in a non-notebook-specific bag.
Recommend this product?
There was one problem - the Paris bag is made for 12" notebooks, and mine is a 13" widescreen. I bought it anyways, took it home, and to my dismay, my laptop definitely did not fit in the neoprene slipcase, and just barely fit in the bag itself if I forced/crammed it in there. Buttering up my laptop was not a good option, and I was so disappointed because I liked the bag so much. I went online and I discovered that the Paris bag had a bigger (much bigger!) sibling, the Miami for 17" notebooks. The styling was almost exactly the same, only the proportions and number of features differed.
The description from the Targus website:
The CityGear Miami Messenger Notebook Case has lots of features in a sporty, stylish lightweight design. Features of this case include a zip-down workstation with holders for business cards, media and more, plus mesh accessory storage pouches. There is a padded notebook compartment, a section for file storage, removable mobile phone pocket and even a hidden water bottle pocket. Sleek and professional, this case supports notebooks with up to 17 screens.
16.5 x 2.25 x 13
19 x 5 x 14
1680D & 840D Nylon
Limited Lifetime Warranty
- Main compartment notebook sleeve fits notebooks with up to 17 screens and includes adjustable divider to accommodate smaller notebooks
- Front zippered pocket for quick access to airline tickets or passport
- Zip-down workstation includes mobile accessory storage, PDA pocket, pen loops, business card holder and key clip
Rear slip pocket for extra storage also includes luggage strap for easy attachment to rolling travel cases
- Additional features include: removable mobile phone pouch, side hidden water bottle pocket, rubberized zipper pulls, and padded shoulder strap
I also read as many reviews as I could on other websites. I knew the bag would be enormous (one reviewer claimed that he carried not just one, but TWO 17" laptops in the bag at once), but I also saw that there was a vecroed divider that would hold smaller notebooks just as snugly. As well, one problem I had with my old bag was that it was far too small to carry my books and files, a problem I couldn't foresee with this bag.
The Miami, at 3 pounds, was also lighter than any other case I'd seen of that size, and because of its sporty design, it could easily double as a regular messenger bag for carrying books or gym clothes. I was disappointed that this version did not come with a neoprene slipcase like the Paris, but the much bigger Miami was selling for the exact same price as the Paris - can't complain about that. I made up my mind and returned the Paris, and ordered the Miami online.
In the laptop compartment, I adjusted the padded divider to the width of my notebook (which can be taken out entirely if you have a 17" notebook) using the velcro tabs, and slid my laptop in. The compartment practically swallowed the little laptop, but it was nicely cradled on the bottom and all four sides. There was, however, tons of room between my little laptop and the top flap of the bag, which is not padded and might be a problem if the bag were to topple off of a desk or chair and land upside down. Of course, because it is a messenger style soft bag, it won't stand up on its own, so I made a note to prop the bag up carefully against something or else lay it down flat.
Besides the padded laptop compartment, there are two other main compartments. The second compartment is also padded, and I could see how it would be possible to tote two laptops at once if needed. I use this compartment for books and files. Because the bag is so wide, you can fit legal size file folders in the bag without having to bend them. One thing I wouldn't put in this compartment is any kind of food or drink. This compartment is separated from the laptop compartment with only a padded divider, they are not actually separate pockets. So, if you were to spill your drink in this compartment your laptop would get soaked - not cool! (more on where to stash your drink later)
The third compartment is what Targus describes as the "zip-down workstation." I love this feature, even though I think it's funny that they call it a "workstation." "Bunch of pockets" would be a more accurate description, or an "organizer" if you like. You can treat it like a regular pocket-type compartment if you're just tossing a book or cables into it, or zip it down completely to access the organizer pockets. Simply imagine a pocket with a zipper on each vertical side, so that when you unzip them the front of the pocket becomes a flap that opens downward. Inside this workstation there is a cardholder, a pocket for pens, a pocket for CDs and DVDs, a pocket for a PDA, and a pocket with no specified use.
The cardholder is a small pocket with a clear plastic window in front and is divided into two compartments - in the front compartment is a card that you can write your contact information on. The second compartment is perfect for a small stack of business cards. The pocket for pens is just like a mesh pencil case with a zipper along the top, except it is attached to the bag. Because the cardholder and pencil case pockets are located at the top of the workstation, it is very easy to access them even when the workstation is zipped up, and even if you have cables and accessories stuffed in this compartment.
Along the bottom are the pockets for CDs and DVDs, a PDA, and an all-purpose pocket. The CD/DVD and PDA pockets are padded and close with velcroed flaps. If you don't have a PDA, this pocket is also a good size for a calculator, or mp3 players or even a PSP! The all-purpose pocket is mesh with elastic trim. You can place small-ish accessories or stationary in this pocket, like flash drives, webcams, and post-it notes. On the flap part of the workstation is a huge mesh pocket which takes up the entire flap. This pocket is ideal for stashing your power adapter, mouse, or other cables, and is very easy to access when the workstation is zipped up.
On the front of the workstation flap (the front of the bag when the workstation is zipped up) is another mesh pocket, much like the pencil case pocket, but shorter. I like to put a granola bar or gum in this pocket where it's least likely to get squished. Next to this pocket are three loops of elastic to hold pens or markers. Other than that, the front of the bag is fairly uncluttered.
The zippers in the workstation have large black nylon pulls with yellow stitching so they are easy to find and grasp.
On the front of the messenger bag flap (not the workstation flap, but the external one that covers the entire front of the bag when it's buckled shut) is another huge zippered pocket that is great for putting your plane tickets or boarding passes and passport in when travelling. I also keep my wallet in this pocket for everyday use. At the bottom of the flap is a large plastic buckle that holds the bag shut.
The back of the bag is covered in lightly padded mesh for comfort. Behind the padded mesh is yet another huge pocket - Targus really made sure that there would be no shortage of space in this bag! I haven't yet used this pocket because with all the other spaces, there's no need to! There is also a luggage strap on the back that enables you to slip this bag over the handles of rolling luggage, which is much better for both you and the laptop if you're running through an airport.
On the sides of the bag are even more features. One is the detachable cell phone case. It was a nice thought, but the case itself was enormous and ugly. It's as if Targus designed the case around cell phones circa 1995. Also, the strap would tend to get caught on it when I picked the bag up, so I took it off and threw it away. On the other side is a mesh water bottle holder which zips away and out of sight into the side of the bag when you don't need it. At first I thought it was a cute idea, but of no use to me since I usually bring my enormous 32 oz (1 litre) Nalgene bottle to school. To my utter astonishment, my huge water bottle fit perfectly! The top of the holder has a drawstring with a toggle, so you can also carry small bottles. Very neat!
The bag has an adjustable padded strap. The strap is 1 1/2 inch wide nylon, and the padded portion is roughly 2 1/2 inches wide. Unfortunately, the padding is not very generous, and while it's fine for me and my small laptop, I've read reviews from those who carry huge 17" laptops that lamented the lack of padding. The strap is not removable, so you'd have to cut the strap off in order to replace it with an aftermarket strap. As well, the padded portion doesn't slide along the strap, but is sewn onto it, so to adjust it you have to adjust either side of the strap to be longer or shorter.
Because of this, you're pretty much stuck carrying the bag in one position unless you stop and adjust the strap, because when you move the bag around, the padded part will no longer sit squarely on your shoulder. For a bag that seemed so well-designed otherwise, the strap design was quite disappointing. To the people at Targus, we can do without a detachable cellphone holder, or even a business card pocket, but the strap is kind of a big deal!
The top handle of the bag is hardly padded at all, and is quite uncomfortable. I only hold the bag by the top handle when I'm adjusting the shoulder strap, so it doesn't bother me much.
The zippers on the outside of the bag have black rubber pulls that say "Targus" in yellow. They are easy to grip even with gloves or mittens on.
As I said before, and as you can see from the picture, this bag is quite sporty looking, not your typical all-black notebook case. It seems to be geared more toward students and young professionals in more creative work environments.
The black nylon is a bit shiny and thus prone to showing scratches. After a month of wear, the bottom corners are fraying a bit (this bag doesn't have little "feet" unlike most traditional notebook cases), but it's nothing major. I like that it's getting a bit "worn in" looking, and softening up.
In conclusion, I'm quite happy with my purchase. It wasn't a very expensive bag, but it has many useful features and lots of space. Because it's not styled like a laptop case and is so light, I can get other uses out of it as well. This bag is perfect for students who need to lug a laptop and books, or for anyone who has a lot to carry with their notebooks.