Targus 15.4″ Rolling Notebook Backpack Review

by Reads (17,158)

by Jerry Jackson

Notebook cases come in all shapes and sizes from backpacks and briefcases to messenger bags and rolling cases. For those of you who sometimes need a backpack and sometimes need a rolling case, Targus comes to the rescue with their 15.4" Rolling Notebook Backpack. This convenient rolling backpack promises to make your life easier if you can’t choose between a backpack and a rolling case, but is it really the best of both worlds?

Features and Specifications:

  • Storage options throughout the backpack
  • Rear protective flap holds shoulder straps in place so straps are secure when the case is used in roller mode
  • Removable slip case fits notebooks with screen sizes up to 15.4"
  • Padded handle and shoulder straps for ease of transport
  • Handle grip on the bottom of the case allows for easier lifting into the car or airline overhead compartment
  • Protective PVC material on bottom of case repels water
  • Exterior Dimensions: 15" x 9" x 19.5"
  • Interior Notebook Compartment Dimensions: 14.5" x 2.25" x 11.6"
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • MSRP: $69.99
  • Weight: 6 lbs
  • Color: Black


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Build and Design

At first glance the Targus Rolling Notebook Backpack (model number TSB700) does literally combine the best of both worlds. One of the first things you’ll notice is that it is a stylish, durable backpack with plenty of features … but look a bit closer and you can see that it is also a roller. The Rolling Notebook Backpack glides on in-line skate wheels and includes a 2-tier telescoping locking handle for easy use in airports, bus stations, sidewalks, or anywhere you need to pull the case behind you. The image below shows the telescoping handle extended to the half-way (first tier) position but the handle extends to twice this length.


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A protective rear flap holds the shoulder straps in place when using it as a roller, and you can lower the same flap to cover the wheels for greater comfort when in backpack mode. For additional convenience it has a handle grip on the bottom of the case that allows for easy lifting into your car or an airline overheard compartment. Also located on the bottom of the case is a "protective PVC material" which "repels water." The bottom of the case (which looks like black-colored fake dinosaur skin) is indeed water resistant … the interior didn’t get wet after I sat the case down in a shallow puddle for several minutes.


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Other features include a padded, removable slip case for notebooks with up to 15.4" screens, top front pocket with protective lining for iPod/MP3 players, PDA or sunglasses, bottom front pocket with business card holder, pen loops and key clip, a main compartment with plenty of file and accessory storage, a large side pocket, even a side mesh water bottle holder.

In Use

During testing the Targus Rolling Notebook Backpack it became quite clear that Targus engineers had to make several compromises when designing this convertible case. First, the rigid enclosure for the telescoping handle means that when you wear the case like a backpack the back doesn’t flex or bend in any way … making it somewhat uncomfortable to use as a backpack. To add insult to injury, the back padding on the case is quite thin and the backpack shoulder straps likewise have minimal padding. The lack of padding and rigid enclosure for the telescoping handle combine to make the Targus Rolling Notebook Backpack one of the least comfortable backpacks I’ve ever used.

On the bright side, the padded flap which covers the rolling wheels is a helpful design element that serves double duty by securing the backpack straps when the case is used as a roller … and it covers the wheels when the case is used as a backpack.


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When used as a rolling case, the Targus Rolling Notebook Backpack is a genuine joy to use. I can actually go as far as to say this case is one of the best rolling cases I’ve ever used. Unlike most rolling cases, the backpack-style shape of the Targus case makes it exceptionally easy to load into an overhead compartment on an airplane or to manuever between people in a crowded airport.

The top front accessory pocket (the one behind the Targus logo) features a scratch-resistant lining similar to neoprene which was perfect for storing an iPod, compact digital camera, or any small accessory that might develop scratches from ballistic nylon. The nylon zipper pulls for the various storage pockets are nice an durable … but they looked a little cheap compared to the overall quality of the case.


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The removable slip case fit three different 15.4" notebooks that we tested (a Dell Vostro 1500, Gateway M-6816, and Compaq v6000z) and provided an extra layer of protection while inside the bag. However, the slip case itself seemed far too thin to provide any real protection for a notebook when used by itself. Additionally, the slip case carrying handles felt thin and flimsy … making me want to carry the slip case under my arm for extra protection rather than hold it by the handles.

Conclusion

Business travelers searching for an all-in-one notebook case that works as both a backpack and a rolling case will be hard pressed to find a better case than the Targus Rolling Notebook Backpack. The solid construction, abundant padding, and plenty of storage means that your expensive laptop and accessories have a home when you’re away from home. That said, the lack of padding on the shoulder straps and the back flap mean that your shoulders and your back will become uncomfortable rather quickly when you use this case as a backpack.

In the end, we recommend this case for anyone looking for a convertible backpack/rolling case … but there is certainly room for improvement.

Pros

  • Works as both a backpack and a rolling case
  • Simple black design with rugged construction
  • Plenty of protective padding and reinforcement to protect your notebook
  • Plenty of room for storage in main compartment and a variety of storage pockets

Cons

  • Back and shoulder straps lack padding and are very uncomfortable
  • Removable slip case lacks padding and provides only limited protection


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