Netbook chic: 6 new laptop bags for ultraportables

If you're using one of the new small netbooks, carry it around with pride -- and style.

Tom Bihn's Buzz is a smallish and very good-looking sling bag with a strap that fits snugly around your torso.

Tom Bihn's Buzz is a smallish and very good-looking sling bag with a strap that fits snugly around your torso.

Even a year after the introduction of the Asus Eee PC netbooks are still something of a novelty. Just a couple of weeks ago, while I was sitting one evening in a hotel lounge with a group of professionals, mine was passed around with enthusiastic curiosity -- they had heard of its easy portability and were eager for some hands-on time before possibly buying one for themselves.

It was then that I realized my netbook wasn't just a nicely lightweight tool for out-of-the-office computing -- it was a statement of my relationship with technology. (A slightly different statement than, say, a MacBook Air , but still. ...) As such, it behooved me to protect my device with something a bit more worthy than the simple black foam sleeve it came with.

But that presented a difficulty -- there aren't that many protective cases out there for notebooks with displays smaller than 12 inches. And you don't want your new netbook to bounce around in a too-large backpack, or get scratched up by the other devices in your messenger bag. You want something that can really protect it -- and show it off at the same time.

What follows is a sampling of six cases that are now available for smaller systems. We've arranged them in price order, from about $25 (for sleeves that offer protection and perhaps some space for a couple of accessories, but not much more) to $120 (for bags that offer space for your netbook, your media player, your wallet, your extra drive, your water bottle and whatever else you need to carry along).

Case Logic 7-10" Laptop Sleeve

Case Logic's 7-10" Laptop Sleeve is one bag that I immediately decided I wanted. Like many simpler laptop sleeves, it is made of stretchy neoprene, but unlike many of the sleeves, it doesn't leave you wondering what to do with any of the add-ons that you want to carry around with your netbook.

The Laptop Sleeve includes a nicely designed zippered external pocket for the power cord, mouse or other accessories. And inside the pocket is another, tiny pocket for a USB adaptor (so it won't go bouncing around the interior). Finally, it's not only good-looking, but inexpensive. Definitely on my holiday wishlist.

Belkin 7" Laptop Carrying Case

Belkin has long been known for its variety of computer accessories and add-ons, but it's not exactly famous for its fashion sense. This may be changing; one of the items in its current catalog is a laptop carrying case that is neither traditional nor techie.

The 7" Laptop Carrying Case looks like a high-style polyester tote bag, with electric-bright colors and rectangular handle. A detachable shoulder strap finishes the look and frees up your hands. Somewhere between a sleeve and a full bag, the Carrying Case will not only protect your netbook from accidental scratches, but will call attention to your good taste.

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Barbara Krasnoff

Computerworld
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