If you look back at my preferences in bags, perhaps two or three years ago, I would never have considered a Brenthaven offering. I won't name and shame here my bag of choice, but I must hasten to say that it was sold off the back as being designed for the Mac Crowd and a lot more expensive to boot.
The ProLite II from Brenthaven is a big surprise to me on lots of counts. It looks very understated, so does not scream "Laptop" to passers-by. It fits laptops up to 15.4-inch widescreen, so was perfect for my MacBook Pro. The main compartment does not have a removable sleeve, instead it padded strips to the bottom and sides. I was happy to slip my MBPro in there without any other case, but if you are the type that wants to stops any type of scratch this is not a problem. With my 15.4-incher inside a slip case, or a corduroy padded case, or second skin, it still fitted nicely inside the ProLite II.
The good things don't end there... on the front of the bag there are three zipped compartments. One is lined in a nice soft material and would accommodate the likes of an iPod, slimline compact camera etc. The second zip down opens right up to reveal some pen pockets, mesh pockets, credit card holder and key holder. The final full length zip toward the bottom of the bag is ideal to put some cables in and perhaps a charger or two.
Round the back there is a further two compartments, large enough to fit loads of paperwork, a mousepad, and yet more mesh pockets. There is also a strap across the back, this allows you to attach the ProLite II to wheeled baggage, freeing up your hands.
Carrying this around is also pretty comfortable. The obligatory shoulder strap is nicely padded, as are the two shorter carrying handles on the top of the bag. Where the ProLite II really scores for me is in three main areas. Firstly, the build quality is really nice. Everything feels as though it will last for a very long time. Secondly, the looks... yes I know a lot of you will say it is just a plain old black bag, but I think in connection to the build quality and the stitching, it just looks really nice. The final winning point is the price... and again, I can hear you say that you could buy cheaper, but I would argue that for just under £70 you get a really useful, well designed bag that is guaranteed for life. Well done Brenthaven, you get my vote!