As some of you who regularly read my reviews may know I was given a lovely Vaio laptop last year which is one of my most prized possessions. I sometimes wonder how I managed without my laptop and now it always comes with me when I go on holiday or when visiting family away from home. My daughter has a laptop bag which I kept borrowing but it was quite cumbersome and was not really my taste but it did keep my laptop safe.
On Christmas morning there was a big box under the tree and I had no idea what it contained. Upon opening it I found that my generous hubby had hunted down the stylish Wenger Rhea laptop bag as a surprise gift for me.
My first impressions of the bag were very good. It is made of black PVC which has a nice sheen to it so it looks more like leather at the tops with fabric on the sides, no nasty shiny plastic finish. The two handles are shoulder-bag length (about 75cm from end to end). There are three compartments which are all closed with double-ended zips which have large silver-coloured tags bearing the familiar Wenger silver cross on a red background (they are the company who make the traditional Swiss Army Knife.) All of the compartments can be opened fully as the zips go all the way down the sides of the bag and so give excellent accessibility to the contents. The base of the bag has four silver-coloured feet which give it good stability when placed on the floor and also prevent damage to the base of the bag. Upon opening the bag I was greeted with a bright pink, orange and green striped fabric throughout the whole interior which adds a lovely feminine feel whilst still looking professional.
The front pocket (24cm x35cm) opens to reveal a business organiser. As with the other compartments the fabric is sewn in a concertina style so that there is no risk of the contents being lost from the sides even when the pocket is fully open. The organiser section has several pockets made from durable black fabric. There is a large pocket (30cm x18cm) and the other sections are attached to the front of this. They consist of flapped and open compartments, a phone pocket and a mesh pocket in which to keep business cards. There is also a large clip on a short strap that would securely hold a set of keys as it has a sturdy mechanism to prevent the clip opening by accident. The major drawback with this section is that there are no obvious pen pockets, they just have to be put into one of the larger pockets but they do tend to slide around and slip down.
The back compartment ((25cm x35cm) is another concertina pocket with one divider that is ideal for storing slim folders and other paperwork. The only problem I can envisage here it that it would be easy to overfill this pocket and have trouble closing the zip although I have not experienced this as I don't carry a lot of files.
The central compartment opens easily to reveal a cavernous interior with an interior width of about 10cm. There is a full-length zipped compartment on one side and on the front of that there are three good sized mesh pockets. The other side of the central compartment is given over to the storage of the laptop. It states that the bag can accommodate a computer up to 14.75"x11" x2". Mine is slightly smaller than this and it slips in easily to the well padded area. There is a strap with a Velcro fastening that holds the protective area securely around the laptop but also allows quick and easy access when you want to remove it. The central compartment also contains a matching accessory case which is attached with a strap and a metal clip so is easy to remove. This smaller bag is about 19x13cm and looks very neat as it is also black with a red and silver cross badge and the striped fabric interior. I have found this useful to keep pens in since there is no obvious pen storage but I have also used it as a makeup bag and for storing other small items that are easy to lose at the bottom of the larger bag.
I have been using this bag for a couple of months now and I must say that I am very pleased with it. The Rhea bag is marketed as a ladies laptop case and it fits the bill beautifully as it looks attractive without looking like traditional laptop bag. The shoulder straps make it easy to carry, even when it is quite full. The bag, when empty, weighs just over 1.1kg which is a lot lighter than several I have looked at in the past. This is good because a laptop, paperwork and all the other accessories that I tend to carry soon add plenty of weight anyway. The straps appear to be firmly sewn in and I don't feel there is any chance of them giving way as they feel very secure. The whole bag feels like it provides good protection for my precious laptop. I love the way the colourful striped interior contrasts with the sedate exterior to provide a functional but fun product. The only criticism I would have is that there is not really any way of locking the zips together, which I have seen on other similar priced products, for added security whilst travelling. The fabric doesn't appear to show marks so I have not had to try and clean it but I imagine it would come up quite well with just a damp cloth.
This is a classy looking bag which is as functional as it is attractive and for that there is a reasonably hefty price tag. I don't know where my husband got it from but I would guess it was probably John Lewis and it is currently listed on their website at £85 although I have found it on other sites at £80. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this bag to others as it is great for carrying a laptop and work and I have also used it as an overnight bag as it is large enough to take my laptop and a few essentials when visiting my parents and it accommodates all of this without ever looking bulky. The bag shows absolutely no signs of wear yet but I have only been using it since Christmas but it does look as if it will be very rugged and will give good service for a long time.