The best iBook bags and cases compared

Introduction

Apple's laptops are rugged and stylish, but both the PowerBook G4 and iBook require extra protection when transported between home and work, airport and hotel, or study and school. There are plenty of portable-computer cases on the market, but most are built to handle the ?average? laptop - and you can't even find one of those in the homogeneous Windows market. You wouldn't buy an airbag for your car unless you knew it was designed specifically for your model. And you shouldn't pick a case for your laptop unless you're sure that it fits properly. Most of the bags and cases in this round-up were designed specifically for Apple's latest laptops. We picked the best iBook gear (PowerBooks next month), and awarded points on style, protection, extra storage, and comfort. iBook: Best for style
Willow's petite £60 Whumph Two! (picture 1; available in black, charcoal, mauve, navy, purple, royal, and teal). and STM's £47 Alley Regular (2; carbon, olive and choc/steel) slim shoulder bags tied on style, protection (both feature high-density padding) and comfort - three of the key strengths of any laptop bag. The Whumph Two! (thank god you have to buy this online, and don't have to ask for it in a shop!) is the glamour bag for the smartly dressed woman - but might look a bit too handbag-like for a man. Overall, the Alley edged it by having more pockets and flexible velcro-fixing straps for extra storage - including a side pocket for a mobile phone. Its style is unisex and more casual than the Willow design. Marware's inexpensive, neoprene SportFolio range - with a built-in plastic shell for impact protection - is equally stylish, although less glamorous than the STM and Willow bags. It's comfortable and snug, but lacks any serious extra storage space. The SportFolio (3) fits the 14-inch iBook and Titanium G4. The SportFolio II (4) fits the 12-inch iBook. iBook: Best for protection
Brenthaven's lightweight Mobility 1 (5) is manufactured exclusively for Apple by Brenthaven, and fits both iBooks (and even the PowerBook). The main case compartment houses a tough neoprene sleeve, and two hardware accessory pockets for power cord, AC adaptor, and spare iBook battery. The Mobility 1 also scores highly on storage - featuring a PDA pocket and side quick-access pockets for a mobile phones, and key holder. iBook: Best briefcases
While Lemonfish's iCase (6) had a reasonable number of extra pockets, the prize has to go to ePac's 300L - which has more compartments than the Orient Express. Unfortunately, the ePac is no looker. The leather version has an exterior style that shouts cheap businessman, and an awkward zipper. We hope the nylon model looks better. Looks aside, the 300L is the top iBook bag for carrying your life around with you. The silvery Lemonfish has a see-through plastic hole that displays the iBook's Apple logo. Whether displaying the fact that you're carrying a Mac laptop is a wise personal-security decision is up to you. You buy online, and the price quoted here includes tax and shipping. Each of these iBook cases fits both the 12- and 14-inch iBooks; ePac's 300L will also fit a PowerBook G4 (as shown here, 7). The ultimate iBook case
Dr Bott's jet-black iCase12 is more than just a robust laptop briefcase - it's a mobile desk. Simply slide off the lid, and activate the LiftoMatic telescopic feet that add a slight angle to the iBook, compensating for the downward slope of your knees in a sitting position. All ports are accessible, see (8). Inside (9), specially cut-out heat-resistant foam snugly fits the 12-inch iBook, a spare battery, the power supply, and even an iPod. A separator stops all this extra stuff scratching your iBook. While there's also space for three jewel-case CDs, there's not much space for all the stuff you'll be carrying around with you. This is where the iCase12Plus with sidebag (for documents, pens, cables, etc) and carrying strap come in handy (10). The sidebag can be unclipped and used as a separate soft case on its own. Such a slender extra, however, comes at a hefty additional fee. All this certainly doesn't come cheap, but the Samsonite case - built of highly impact-resistant ABS plastic - is real secret-agent stuff. Dr Bott's iCase is for wealthy iBook owners who think they're James Bond.
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