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Review: Skooba Skin - Sleeve + Tote

Almost every day I see a new protection case/sleeve crop up for our notebook computers. It's rare that we see anything that's dual purpose. Roadwired has introduced a very unique product called the 'Skooba Skin'.

It's a minimalistic notebook sleeve / tote that brings something to the market that was missing - versatility. By simply changing the configuration, you can quickly turn your notebook sleeve into a tote & vice versa. Specs: This product has been getting a lot of buzz in the press and I couldn't wait to test it out. Our review sample was the Red/Black Ripstop Nylon w/ Gray lining, for a 15 inch notebook. It comes in several colors and fabrics - 7 varieties in fact.
  • Black Ballistic w/Blue Lining.
  • Silver Metallic Nylon w/Orange Lining
  • Blue Ultrasuede w/Blue Lining
  • Red/Black Ripstop Nylon w/Gray Lining
  • Olive Ballistic w/Red Lining
  • Brown Corduroy w/Teal Lining
  • Pink Vinyl w/Black Lining
Also, it's available in three different sizes: small, medium, and large. Each designed to fit a particular notebook screen size. Skooba Skins13Skooba Skins2-1 If our calculations are correct, the Macbook would be a candidate for the Skooba 1012, but be sure to check the dimensions before ordering. Macbook Pro users will want to go with the Skooba 1415 or Skooba1617, depending on which sized notebook you have. Skooba Skins5 Transformer: My initial impressions were very good. It's certainly a very cool bag. I quickly tested the folding of the handles, which transforms it from tote to sleeve. For transformation into a sleeve configuration, one flap goes over your notebook, inside the bag.The other flap fits over the top, and is secured with hidden velcro. It's extremely easy and well thought out. To switch to tote mode, you simply hold the case by it's flaps, which velcro together at the top. It works very well, and I can certainly see how it could be useful to someone that needs mobility. The Details: Padding is adequate, about 1/4 inch on each side of the notebook, except the top of the Skooba. You should be fine unless the top of the notebook gets banged around in your backpack. You should be cautious when inserting your notebook, and orient it inside your full sized bag so that the top of the computer will be safe from unforeseen impacts. I always like to be clear on any potential damage areas, since you are buying an item that is designed to protect your expensive notebook. Skooba Skins8 I tested the notebook with my iBook 14 inch and my Gateway 15 inch. I was using the Skooba1415, which should accommodate each of these. When the iBook was in the case, there was extra space inside the Skooba which made the iBook shift around inside it. It wasn't as noticeable when it was configured as a sleeve, but it was a bit aggravating in the 'tote' configuration, and I could slightly feel the iBook shifting around inside. Next up was the 15 inch Gateway notebook. This was a much snugger fit on the sides of the computer, and provided a better feeling while in tote mode. When I configured it into the sleeve, the Gateway notebook was just large enough that it protrudes out enough to make closing the flap a bit tougher, but not impossible. Overall, it was a good fit that I can certainly live with. Skooba Skins10Skooba Skins11Skooba Skins12 One thing we noticed in tote mode is the top of your notebook is left uncovered, so I caution you to only 'tote' it when the sun is shining, or you are indoors. tote mode - top uncovered You won't find anything inside the interior or exterior that even resembles a zipper or pouch. The smooth interior will ensure that your notebook will exit the bag just like it entered - scratch free. I like the minimalist design, since I rely on my backpack or other computer bag to carry my notebook around, and can use their pockets for storing all of my accessories. Quality: Quality is certainly on par for the price point of this bag. Stitching is 'good-enough', but certainly not on the level of the more expensive sleeves on the market. They did a fine job on the thickness of the padding, and it will most certainly protect your computer inside other bags. We would like to see a padded flap that's sewn into the inside to cover the notebook when it's configured as a tote. We think a nice addition would be some padding around the handles, since the current iteration of this bag lacks that feature. Skooba Skins4Skooba Skins7 For the $34.95 price point, this bag is very good and offers something 'different', which sets it apart from other single purpose sleeves & totes. With all of the fabric and color styles available, it should be easy to find a bag that fits your needs, or the special someone on your holiday list. 4 out of 5