First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Round-up: STM protective laptop bags and smartphone cases
- — 13 September, 2013 10:20
Looking for a laptop bag or smartphone case? We take a look at STM's latest protective shoulder bag, laptop shoulder bag and smartphone cases.
STM velo 2 M (medium) laptop shoulder bag
The STM velo 2 M is the jack-of-all-trades when it comes to laptop bags. It combines plenty of compartments (six major areas contained by zippers, most of which have a selection of sub-sections within them), carefully-placed protective padding, and a comfortable shoulder strap to accommodate for commuting.
The velo 2 M’s key feature is the location and design of its laptop compartment, and the padding surrounding it. Unlike traditional bags which house the laptop compartment beneath the main flap, the velo 2 M’s dedicated notebook slot is accessible via a zipper on the right side, and sits beside your body when carrying the bag.
This compartment is entirely isolated for protective purposes. Each side contains about 10mm of soft-to-medium strength padding in order to protect from bumps and drops. Protection aside, the slot makes grabbing and storing your notebook very quick, eliminating the need to shuffle through other storage.
The velo 2 M’s primary storage compartment sits under the zippered flap and has two additional quick-release buckles which help keep the bag compact if it isn’t full. Inside are ‘sleeves’ to enable further segregation of contents; for example, the wall adjacent to the laptop slot has a pouch which could hold a tablet or documents. An additional easy-access compartment sits just under the main one and has space for stationary, business cards, chargers, or other small articles.
Each side of the shoulder bag has an additional space which can be used for the likes of a bottle, as an example. The velo 2 M’s shoulder strap comes with an in-line padded panel which is gripped to stop it sliding around your shoulder. We tested the bag with about 5kg of contents and found it comfortable to wear due to the width of the panel.
For travellers, the bag also has a zippered luggage strap, allowing you to slide it over the handle of your luggage so it sits on top without the risk of falling. Aesthetically, the bag is simple yet appealing. It comes in blue (with yellow branding and zippers), light grey (with orange features), and black (with grey) colour variants.
The velo 2 M is designed to fit most 15in notebooks, although an S version is available to cater for smaller 13in devices.
Final verdict: The STM velo 2 M is very useful and is likely to store everything you'll need on a commute. It effectively keeps your expensive gadgets safe thanks to plenty of padding around the laptop compartment in particular. The design keeps the weight balanced, and the shoulder strap ensures comfortable and stable wear, although if you aren’t carrying much, the bag can feel chunky. We rate it 4.5 stars, with the $119.95 price tag being the only real pitfall.
STM linear S (small) tablet shoulder bag
The STM linear S laptop shoulder bag combines security with space. Like the velo 2 M, the tablet pocket contains a good amount of padding on each side of the tablet slot to protect from knocks and drops.
Each of the linear S’s compartments are located under the central flap (one with a zip), with an additional pocket at the back. Even with a tablet inside, there is enough space to comfortably stash a mobile phone, compact camera, glasses case, small book, and a few other items.
While packing these in creates bulk, the shoulder bag remains comfortable to carry. It has an easy-to-adjust strap suitable for both short and tall users. The inline shoulder pad has a grip to keep the linear S in place.
Final verdict: Although the $89.95 price tag may seem steep, the linear S tablet shoulder bag is a good investment as a result of its promised protection and storage options. We give it 4.5 stars.
STM grip for Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One
STM’s grip case (for both Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One) is suitable for users who want basic day-to-day protection while retaining their smartphone’s slim form factor.
The thin, 25g polycarbonate plastic shell clips onto a smartphone easily, with the edges protruding very slightly beyond the screen. The ‘grip’ name comes from the series of 24, 1mm lumps flowing horizontally across the back of the case. While these intend to do as the name suggests, the smooth surface of the hard case does not make the phone any easier to hold.
Although STM describes the grip as both durable and rugged, we wouldn’t want to drop our smartphone as the top and bottom front edges of the device remain exposed. This aside, the polycarbonate feels solid; we gripped the case and managed to bend it vertically in half without a break, although it should be noted the case remained slightly bent.
Final verdict: The STM grip is ideal for preserving your smartphone from day to day bumps and scratches, particularly as it costs a low $19.95. We rate it 3 stars.
STM harbour 2 for Samsung Galaxy S4
The STM harbour 2 case is built from dual density thermo polyurethane, and employs a hinged design allowing it to act like a stand. This means you can sit your phone both vertically and horizontally without requiring any further accessories.
The hinge is located about a quarter of the way up from the bottom, and flips backwards to about a 45-degree angle. Once released, your smartphone will sit steadily on a flat surface. The feature is particularly useful for viewing photos or streaming videos.
The case itself feels durable, with protection stretching around the entire circumference of the phone. Its edges protrude beyond the screen slightly, which should protect the display from breaking if dropped onto a flat surface.
Final verdict: The STM harbour 2 is available in black, charcoal, emerald, and purple, with an asking price of $29.95. We give it 3.5 stars.