Targus Blacktop 15.4″ Laptop Case Review

by Reads (16,097)

by Jerry Jackson

The new Targus Blacktop line of notebook briefcases and backpacks is Targus’ latest attempt to bring affordable yet rugged notebook cases to the market. The Targus Blacktop 15.4" Standard Laptop Case with Dome Protection is a very functional case with unique padding … and it won’t break your bank account.

For this review I used the Targus Blacktop 15.4" Standard Laptop Case with Dome Protection ($59.99) with the following specifications:

  • Model number: CBT301DUS
  • Color: Black
  • Internal dimensions: 14.33" x 1.69" x 11.81"
  • Exterior dimensions: 17.25" x 4.5" x 14.5"
  • Exterior material: 1680D polyester
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Weight: 3.3 lbs


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Design and Aesthetics

While the design of the Blacktop line isn’t much to look at, it doesn’t take long to recognize (and appreciate) the excellent build quality in these less than $100 cases. Targus covers the Blacktop line with a special blend of 1680 Denier Ballistic Nylon and black rubber tread on the grip and bottom of the case to protect areas that are subject to heavy wear. In short, these cases should hold up to most abuse that customers will throw at them. The stitching is rugged across the entire case and there are easy-access pocket on both sides of the case as well as under the front flap.


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This particular Blacktop notebook case includes the Targus "Dome Protection System," which spreads the force of an impact across a larger area and reduces the chance of laptop screen damage. This sidewall protection system is a series of layered, shock-absorbing circles which are inserted into the walls of a notebook case to minimize pressure on the most vulnerable area, the center of the screen. The weight is dispersed to the outside edges where your laptop is significantly stronger. The result is greater overall protection right where it’s needed.

There’s nothing more frustrating than an uncomfortable shoulder strap on a heavy notebook case. Unfortunately, the Blacktop 15.4" Standard Laptop Case uses one of Targus’ less comfortable shoulder straps. If you are only carrying the case over your shoulder for a short trip it’s fine. However, if you plan on carrying this bag over your shoulder for a long trip then you should expect to endure some shoulder pain. We would have liked to see a more padded strap or a flexible neoprene strap that evenly distributes weight over a larger area. The non-slip texturing on the strap helps avoid accidental drops, but it’s just more comfortable to hold this case like a briefcase than to use it over your shoulder.


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While we’re on the subject of using this laptop case like a briefcase, it’s important to point out that this Blacktop case won’t stand vertically on its own without supporting it against something. The black rubber feet/pads on the bottom edge of the case suggest that it was designed to stand vertically, but the case isn’t balanced well enough to stand on its own. This isn’t a major problem, but it seemed a little odd and is worth mentioning if you plan to use this bag as a briefcase.

This case comes equipped with the standard card holder, pen loops, accessory pockets, CD/DVD sleeves, and file folder storage compartments seen in almost every briefcase style notebook case. A nice addition is the included removable mesh accessory pouch. Now you have a place for all your USB gizmos or a convenient case for other items while traveling.


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The Blacktop 15.4" Standard Laptop Case includes a nylon retention strap to hold your notebook in place. Although the retention strap uses a strip of standard hook-and-loop Velcro material to secure the laptop it does an excellent job of holding a notebook in place. The adjustable padded compartment also means that you can easily secure a 13.3" or 14.1" notebook inside the case just as easily as a full 15.4" notebook.


Conclusion

After using this case for some time I feel comfortable saying the Targus Blacktop 15.4" Standard Laptop Case is an excellent (if a bit dull) notebook case. The rugged ballistic nylon, rubber tread, durable stitching, and excellent Dome Protection System make the case quite impressive in its price range. The abundant storage compartments and accessory pouches make it easy to stay organized. The only real let down with this case is the uncomfortable shoulder strap and the fact that the case can’t stand up on its own.

Overall, the Targus Blacktop 15.4" Standard Laptop Case with Dome Protection is an excellent value and will serve business professionals and consumers well as a general use notebook case.

Pros

  • Made from quality materials
  • Great for staying organized
  • Reasonably conservative yet stylish black design
  • "Dome protection" cushion system seems to work well

Cons

  • Not-so-comfortable shoulder strap
  • Doesn’t stand as a briefcase without additional support


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