Fashion and function. Photo: Marina Oliphant
Laptop cases used to be grey, dull accessories without any character but that image is now firmly in the past.
Today, cases for laptops, tablets and smartphones are colourful and elegant designer items that can match and enhance a man or woman's style perfectly.
"There are a wide variety of cases on the market. There's no longer a standard model. It's been replaced by many different designs, sizes and materials," says Sabrina Vogel, an expert for bags at Germany's taschenkaufhaus.de online shopping portal.
Bags for gadgets
Dress up your gadgets and stamp your personal style on the portable devices you carry around.
Vogel says laptop cases are not just for storing and transporting electronic equipment, they can also express your own individual style.
"There's a case for every type of person: from trendy to classic," she says.
Young notebook owners appear to be especially fond of messenger bags like those used by bicycle couriers. They must be lightweight and made from robust materials, according to Claudia Schulz from the umbrella organisation of Germany's shoe manufacturing industry, the Bundesverband der Schuhindustrie.
Mancessory ... the laptop bag. Photo: Steve Baccon
Laptop case-maker BOOQ has a range of messenger bags made from tough nylon with a rubber bag-bottom that protects the notebook from moisture. Inside individual compartments can store a smartphone and other items safely and securely.
Messenger bags have padded straps that allow you to carry the bag either off the shoulder or like a bicycle courier with the bag firmly attached to your back. By adjusting the strap and making it shorter the bag can be carried by hand.
Most models can be adjusted to suit your momentary need. Boss Black has a women's bag that has a padded interior for a laptop that can be detached and slid out. That makes your laptop very easy to access. The interior can be left at home, providing you with an elegant-looking women's handbag made from calfskin.
Swedish bag-maker Sandqvist has reinterpreted the business case and come up with a range of high-quality, retro-design models.
"Leather was, and is, in high demand in many variations: classic smooth leather, the vintage look but also in combination with canvas," says Vogel. Women often prefer bags with playful design details while men go for elegant understatement.
Vogel's advice for finding the ideal laptop case is to first consider exactly what you are looking for. Where do you use your laptop? At home or at work? What forms of transport do you use? Bicycle, train or car? What other items do you need to transport?
A business person who needs to transport large amounts of documents is better off with a hardcover trolley bag on wheels than a classical briefcase, according to Vogel. If elegance is less important than functionality, a backpack might be a wise choice.
"Backpacks are in fashion again," says Vogel. A backpack represents the return of the urban look. The manufacturer Incase produces a number of stylish versions in different sizes to suit the dimensions of your laptop. Their backpacks have compartments on the exterior that give you quick access to other items like a water bottle or umbrella.
But thanks to materials like leather and canvas, backpacks are now extending their popularity into other areas.
"Backpacks have become an accepted, elegant accessory in big cities," like Paris and London, Schulz says.
Backpacks have one big plus-point over other types of bags: they spread the weight of the load you are carrying evenly over your shoulders, easing the burden your back needs to carry.
"Muscles can quickly become over-exerted if the load of the weight is mainly one-sided," says Oliver Meier, a consultant doctor at Germany's Werner-Wicker Clinic. However, if you do decide to go for a bag with a strap then make sure it's padded in its shoulder area.
Most adults will have no trouble carrying the weight of a laptop and other items. But with children it's a different matter: under no circumstances should they carry too much weight as that can lead to posture problems. And if you already have back issues you should avoid carrying heavy loads completely.
According to Meier, the most important thing is not so much finding the ideal case but rather getting enough exercise to strengthen your muscles.