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Protecting Your Notebook Computer

Most notebook-computer bags don’t include dedicated pockets for tablet computers, netbook computers or e-book readers. Until more manufacturers add these, your best bet is to buy a separate sleeve.

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Technology moves so fast that the manufacturers of notebook-computer cases apparently are having a hard time keeping pace. Only a few of the latest notebook-computer cases, briefcases and business-oriented backpacks have dedicated compartments that hold smaller devices, such as e-book readers, netbook computers or tablet computers.

For now, with a few exceptions, if you want to keep your device protected when you carry it in your bag, you’ll have to spend at least $20 for a separate sleeve.

At press time, only 10 bags from seven manufacturers had dedicated padded pockets for e-book readers, netbooks or tablets, but industry experts expect more manufacturers to follow by next year. The MSRP of computer bags that have special pockets and additional storage space for accessories and files ranges from $90 to $200, which puts them primarily in the midrange and premium categories.

As a general rule, consumers will pay $5–$10 extra for these bags compared with bags that don’t have the dedicated space. But you might have to make sacrifices if you get such a bag. For instance, manufacturers eliminated small storage pockets for items, such as computer cables, and key loops and pen loops to make room for the e-book-reader/netbook/tablet compartment. In addition, most bags that have a dedicated e-book-reader/netbook/tablet pocket aren’t checkpoint-friendly, which means that you’ll have to take all of your devices out of the bag before you put the bag in the scanner at an airport.

SLEEVE SENSE. If you buy a separate sleeve for your e-book reader, netbook or tablet, you’ll have plenty from which to choose. At press time, at least 600 such padded sleeves were on the market. We like that they can be stored in folder compartments or other areas of computer bags. You can expect to pay $20–$50 for a sleeve.

More-expensive sleeves tend to have add-on features, such as a cellphone pocket, a shoulder strap or a slip pocket (for the storage of pens, small notebooks or wallets). The least expensive sleeves might not have adequate—if any—padding for protection. If you buy a sleeve, you should make sure that it’s at least made of neoprene, which is a light material that has padding that’s built into the fabric. The higher cost sleeves generally are made of more expensive materials, such as leather, but you still want to make sure that the interior includes a layer of padding or a fleece lining.

Christina Dyar is the former publisher of Travelware magazine and has been writing about business cases and luggage for 13 years.

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