By Michelle Thatcher – CNET Reviews
Were it not for it’s slightly large size (the better to accommodate your 15.4-inch laptop), we’d think the $90 Mobile Edge CuteBug Messenger was another trendy everyday bag. But behind its vinyl front flap–like the CuteBug Sheba we reviewed earlier this year, decorated with a striking image taken from a mid-century pulp magazine–you’ll find a padded laptop compartment and a handful of helpful organizer pockets. Inside, a padded laptop compartment provides a good level of protection for your machine, and a handful of organizer pockets keep pens and other items contained. And while the CuteBug Sheba was too small to carry much more than an ultraportable laptop, the Messenger version offers enough space for a mainstream laptop and several accessories.
The vintage magazine cover art on the flap of the CuteBug Messenger provides a lot of its appeal. Against a light-green backdrop, we see a heavily made-up brunette who’s looking off to the side. The cover line next to her reads, “Bright promises”; above her, on the left side of the flap (the cover is reproduced sideways), you see the magazine’s title in red: All-Story Love. The overall effect is retro and feminine, if not quite as girly as the pinkfest found on the CuteBug Sheba. The bag’s back panel is made of dark purple velvet, which opens (via a Velcro tab) onto a slender pocket for reading material or folded papers. The rest of the bag is made of typical black nylon. About the only thing we wished we had on the bag’s exterior was a dedicated pocket to keep a cell phone within easy reach.
Under the graphic flap, which is held in place by a wide Velcro strap, an accordion fold compartment contains organizer pockets for a cell phone or MP3 player, a larger pocket that could hold a CD jewel case, and two pen loops. This compartment is somewhat expandable, so there’s plenty of room for a paperback, makeup bag, or other accessories; we do wish there were zippers down the sides of the compartment to allow for easier access to its contents. The bag’s open main compartment is divided into two spaces. In the front there’s room for notepads and file folders, plus a small zippered pocket on the front wall that can keep important papers or discs secure. In the back is the laptop compartment, lined on all sides with Mobile Edge’s SafetyCell padding, which reminds us of a fabric-covered bubble wrap. (A similar padding strategy can be found in the more expensive Skooba Satchel 2.0 Luxe.) A Velcro strap across the top of the compartment holds the laptop in place.
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