Targus 15.4″ Radius Convertible Messenger/Backpack Review

by Reads (14,858)

by Jerry Jackson

Sooner or later most people will eventually consider a "convertible" bag in that never-ending quest to find the ultimate notebook case to protect their valuables while traveling. Targus just made life a little easier for those of you who can’t decide between a messenger style case and a backpack. As the name suggests, the new Targus 15.4" Radius Convertible Messenger/Backpack works as both a messenger and a backpack. But is this all-in-one case as good as it sounds, or is it just marketing hype with good looks?

Features and Specifications:

  • Protection – Features an EVA (foam) molded notebook compartment for added protection; Designed to fit Apple notebooks with up to 15.4" screens
  • Organization – Workstation includes labeled pockets made specifically to fit your Apple mouse, remote, power adapter and iPod and also features a business card holder, key clip and pen loops. Quick access side pocket and zippered front pocket provide plenty of storage for quick access items during travel
  • Convenience – Side water bottle provides easy access storage for beverages; trolley strap allows for easy transport on rolling luggage
  • Materials – Constructed of durable, water-resistant coated 1680 polyester material
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • MSRP: $99.99
  • Weight: 4.18 lbs
  • Color: Black/Olive


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Build and Design

The Targus Radius Convertible Messenger/Backpack (model number TSB07701US) is designed to fit Apple notebooks with up to 15.4" screens and features an EVA (foam) molded notebook compartment for added protection. While Targus officially lists "Apple" notebook compatibility, our testing shows that any notebook with a 15.4" display or smaller will fit in this case. The Convertible Messenger/Backpack features a zip down "workstation" with custom sized pockets made specifically to fit your Apple mouse, remote, power adapter and iPod. The workstation is actually just a standard accessory storage area with a convenient zip-down front panel. This case also features a business card holder, key clip and pen loops along with a trolley strap for easy transport on rolling luggage.


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Of course, the main selling feature of this case is the ability to convert from a backpack to messenger. The case includes a zippered pocket on the back panel to store the backpack straps when not in use. The padded shoulder straps are ergonomically designed for carrying comfort and include an integrated cable management piece to keep the headphone cord for your iPod neatly wound. Designed with style in mind, the convertible messenger is custom made to store your Apple accessories and features water resistant fabrication to help protect the case and your belongings from the elements.


The accessory storage "workstation" area. (view large image)

In Use

During the review period the Radius Convertible Messenger/Backpack performed quite well. The only minor problem that we encountered was with the hardware (the zipper pulls, D-rings and clips). While the metal hardware on the Radius looks great, it certainly is noisy. Whenever the metal pieces come into contact with one another it sounds like someone is getting ready to sing "Jingle Bells." The noisy hardware could have easily been silenced by covering the zipper pulls and D rings with a thin coating of rubber or similar sound-dampening material.


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The backpack shoulder straps are remarkably well padded compared to other convertible backpacks we’ve reviewed. In fact, the backpack straps on this case actually felt better than straps on some backpacks that aren’t convertible. On the other hand, the messenger bag shoulder strap featured only average padding and the shoulder strap began to feel uncomfortable after carrying the fully loaded case over my shoulder for more than 15 minutes.

The interior of the case is well constructed with plenty of storage space, multiple pockets and dividers for organization, and a well-padded notebook compartment. The padding around the notebook compartment is EVA (foam) covered in a soft fabric. The various notebooks used for the review period seemed to be well protected. The strap that holds the notebook in place is secured by a piece of Velcro, which makes it easy to quickly insert or remove a notebook … but is less secure than a plastic or metal clip. As long as you remember to close the zipper around the notebook compartment you shouldn’t have to worry about the notebook.

Another minor concern is the "workstation" accessory compartment. The workstation is designed to hold a mouse, MP3 player, cell phone or other accessories, but the protective padding in this area feels a little thin. If the front messenger bag flap is down and secured then that adds an extra layer of protection for your valuable accessories, but we would have liked to see a bit more padding in this area.


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Conclusion

Overall the Targus Radius Convertible Messenger/Backpack is the single most effective convertible backpack we’ve seen to date. Unlike most convertible cases that have to sacrifice various design elements in order to be "convertible" the Radius successfully blends both a messenger bag and a backpack into one relatively stylish case. True, the padding could have been better on the messenger bag shoulder strap, the zipper pulls and other hardware are a bit noisy, and the accessory storage area could use a bit more padding. However, none of these minor issues prevent us from considering the Radius as an amazing all-in-one solution.

In the end, if you are in the market for a convertible messenger/backpack case for your notebook and accessories, this is the case for you.

Pros

  • Excellent convertible design — a great messenger and a great backpack
  • Plenty of storage with convenient organization
  • Nice protective padding for notebook
  • Stylish with an attractive color combination

Cons

  • Noisy hardware
  • Messenger shoulder strap could have been more forgiving with better padding
  • Accessory storage area could use a little more protective padding in front


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