Having kept my laptop in a old bag I got free from attending a course for a over year it eventually developed a large hole in the base. The time was ripe for a proper laptop bag as once on the way to work the AC adapter almost slipped unnoticed from the gaping hole.
I chose this bag based on the balance between sleek and stylish design and the protection it offered. I got it from Staples for a bargain £24 and have been using it for about a month, carrying it to and form work.
The strap has a padded section which prevents it from digging into your shoulder. This is something that I found was a huge problem with my old makeshift bag. Difficulties only begin to occur when your carrying the thing for a long period of time. The first thing I noticed was that the padded section on the back face of the laptop bag turned from a cozy duvet to a sweaty nusiance in the space of 20 minutes. That was only in mild weather - God forbid we actually have a proper summer. As a result of this discomfort, you have to keep repositioning the bag from resting on your rigth side to your backside at regular intervals.
The other problem is simply due to the fact that it is a messenger bag. When walking briskly - the bag sways with your movement and can eventually work its way off your shoulder if your wearing a slippy nylon shirt. Not so bad on your wooly coat. Running whilst wearing the bag or either garment is a complete no-no . (Why run with a a laptop bag - you might be escaping from a gang of thieves, or from your scary mother-in-law - be prepared for anything).
Also due to the bulkiness of the laptop bag, you will end up walking with your shoulders slightly bent due ot the weight being carried on one side. Thats only if you carry the laptop by your side - the problem doesn't occur if you just carry it over your backside. This may seem obvious, but the difference was less noticeable when I was carrying the old convention bag.
Not as discreet as pictures make out
On the internet, the Targus Mode Messenger bag looks very discreet and un-laptop-bag-like. Don't be fooled. You can most definitely tell its a laptop bag once you purchase it. Its just isimply too large an bulky to look liek its carrying anything else. Its dimensions are roughly 40cm wide by 33cm tall and 10 cm width. Its the 10 cm width that gives it away really. Before you buy, take a look at in your PC World/Staples and you'll realise what those dimensions really mean. The visual impact is more substantial than what any umbers can tell you. the other massive giveaway to potential thieves is the small Targus logo on the front situated on a rubber tag(only ~3cm by 1cm though) and the larger woven in logo on the back (but that should be facing your body anyway).
Stylish (for a laptop bag)
The chocolate colour is very cool and goes well with the wheat coloured strap. I still haven't tried out the turquoise strap and chocolate straps which are also provided. These are nice additional features that will refresh your look occasionally. Getting the strap on first time was a bit of a pain especially as Targus had provided such sparse instruction on changing the strap. Second time shouldn't be so bad.
Having said that it looks cool, the buckles on either side look ridiculously large. Despite being hard plastic, they don't look like they're going to break off/crack any time soon however. As a result of a large buckle the strap also is quite large (or maybe the other way round). This wouldn't be so bad if it didn't go round the outside face of the bag. To me this is an eyesore, in other people's books its style. This feature however is essential to make changing the strap easier.
Storage - only long and thin things fit
The main compartment is divided into two sections by a material that Ican only describe as thick lycra. Its strechy and soft and I've never seen before it in my life. Anyway the posterior surface of the compartment has 4 thick padded sections. The laptop fits between the lycra and the posterior surface. The opposite side of the compartment is space for a thin file/wallet of A4 papers. Over this compartment goes a flap (which is spearate from the main flap. this feature means that this bagis like 2 bags in 1 - so that possessions like stationary can be accessed form the outer bag, whilst the laptop and important documents only accessible by openig the inner bag. The extra security is reassuring - but could be clumsy and annoying if late for a lecture and needing to quickly access the laptop.
The outer bag (covered by the larger outer flap) has a zip pocketr which neatly fits the AC adapter and mice. Theres also pace for a few other small accessories. Theres also a rubber name badge within this pocket where you can write the 'I'm lost' instructions. Ovetlyuing ths zip pocket are three velcro-secured pockets - for stationery, compact camera etc.
The limited storage options are a toss-up for the less bulky bag that you buy, however it satisfies school purposes and most importantly will secure your laptop from elements and man alike. Its a bargain for £25.