I was leery of buying a notebook case online without being able to see how well it fit my needs in person. But the idea of traipsing from store to store in the summer heat trying to find the perfect bag wasn't very appealing either. I was also a bit leery about this bag in particular, because it didn't have any reviews yet. But after doing a lot of comparing on Amazon I went ahead and purchased this one (the CBT201US) and it has turned out to be exactly what I needed. I'd read really good reviews of Targus cases in the past so that's what I concentrated on mostly, though I did a little comparing to other brands.
The Blacktop Messenger case is a really good middle-of-the-road case. It's not totally minimalistic with room for just your notebook and not much else, and it's not as heavy and bulky as some of the tote-every-electronic-gadget-you-own types of cases. For context, this is my first notebook computer and its main purpose is to serve as backup data storage and as a portable entertainment center for music, movies, and games when vacationing. So I wanted a case that would hold things like my power cord, mouse, some disks, flash drive, and mini-speakers, but didn't weigh a ton or feel like I was lugging around an entire extra suitcase.
The Blacktop Messenger has exactly the right amount of room for your essentials, and a few more things. It's very well designed for creating maximum storage in minimal space. The inside of the front compartment is very nicely designed with spaces for mouse, USB drive, etc. In addition to that, there is a small flat zippered pocket on the cover flap that's perfect for things like airline tickets or anything else you need to grab quickly. There's a flat velcroed pocket on the back that would be good for documents or magazines. The main interior has the padded slot to top load your notebook (with a top velcro strap for extra security), and then also another relatively roomy slot that can fit things like a portable HD, power cords, or other slightly bulky - but not huge, items. (For reference I have a Dell 15.4" notebook, and it easily fits in the padded slot.) There's also a cell phone case on the shoulder strap, but it's attached with a velcro strap so you can take it off if it bugs you.
One of the reasons I was looking at this case was because it has the slots for CD/DVD disks. It turns out I'm not thrilled with carrying them that way, afraid that if I banged the bag hard they could get damaged. But I found that a square, zippered 12 capacity disk case that I already owned fits perfectly in that spot on top of the disk slots and solves the problem nicely.
Rubber tread on bottom and partway up the sides to provide a bit extra shock absorption and also protects the case material if you end up having to set it down on an icky floor.
Really good layout of storage compartments with plenty of room to carry the usual essentials, plus the ability to really cram in some extras when needed.
There's a headphone cord hole in the front so you can listen to your portable music player while leaving it in the bag.
Has a handle on top to carry it briefcase style in addition to the shoulder strap.
Sturdy, rugged design feels like it will hold up for a long time.
Very reasonable price for this quality and size of bag.
I wish the shoulder strap could extend to be a little bit longer. When carrying it for any distance I prefer to have the strap across my chest, not just over one shoulder, and I'm a large person so the bag rides up higher than I'd like.
The business card holder is a waste of space. Most people who carry business cards already have them in their wallet or something and the rest of us have no need for it. The top zippered pouch should have been extended across the top of that section or another small pouch put there instead of the card holder. (The card holder is designed in such a way that nothing else would really go there very well.)
Some people might not like that the shoulder strap is the kind that is permanently attached, rather than the kind with swivel hooks. It makes for a much sturdier design with less fear of the strap breaking when the case is in use, but it also makes untangling it more difficult and you can't swap out for a longer strap.
This is a top loading case, which is perfect for my needs. If you're a frequent business traveler and use your notebook on the plane you'd probably be happier with the kind where you can use the computer while its still in the case.
The shoulder pad on the shoulder strap is sewn to the strap so you can't adjust its position at all, which might irritate some people. On the other hand, since the strap doesn't have a wide range of adjustable lengths, the pad doesn't really need to be moved and some people might like that it doesn't slide around.
This case is designed in a manner to more than adequately suit my needs and I'm very happy with my purchase and the price I paid for it.
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About the reviewer
Robin L. McLaughlin (SeattleRobin)
I'm an avid reader. I own the Kindle 2 and love it. I read ebooks almost exclusively now. I read mostly fiction, primarily fantasy (including urban fantasy), mysteries, and science fiction. Though … more
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The Targus Blacktop Laptop Messenger is designed to fit laptops with up to 15.4 screens. The padded compartment keeps your laptop safe during travel, while the durable nylon materials with signature rubber tread on the bottom of the case provides a stylish design element and shock absorption. The front workstation includes a business card holder, key clip, pen loops and multiple accessory and media storage pockets for added convenience. The headphone port allows you to store your MP3 player inside the case and to listen to music simultaneously. This case is equipped with five scratch-resistant CD/DVD sleeves so you can safely take your media with you. The luggage strap enables travelers to easily transport this case on top of rolling luggage. Easy to carry in crowded airport terminals, between meetings or at school, the Blacktop Laptop Messenger is a highly functional and durable case for students and casual business executives.