Built NY specialises in creating products using Neoprene, the material known best for its use in wet suits. It uses it in all sorts of things, including bibs for babies, wine bottle carriers and, of course, laptop bags. Its Laptop Case we have here comes in two sizes, a 15.4in version and a smaller one for 13.3in laptops. It also comes in three designs, Brown/Mint Green, Black/Power Blue and the Dot No.7/Power Blue version we have.
Aesthetically it's clear it's a product better suited to women rather than men, though the black and brown versions are a little more neutral. Critically, while the Crumpler bags have a more everyday commuter feel to them, the Built NY Laptop Case is more recreational in its nature. Perfect for the park or beach on a summer's day its Neoprene fabric means its machine washable, an unusual added bonus for a laptop bag, and makes this bag less bulky than most.
This is a messenger bag style carry case with a strap that's by no means heavy duty, but is more than strong enough for the job. There's no shoulder padding, however, underlining that it's not best suited for lugging around on long journeys. One thing it does have is a handle; always a useful addition.
For a bag that's fairly lightweight it provides remarkably good protection, too. The Neoprene is thick and softens any blows very effectively, while the bottom is hardened to provide extra protection there. Inside is a removable laptop sleeve with one side made of Neoprene and the other stiffened using a hard plastic-like insert. On the hardened side are four slip pockets of various sizes that are good for batteries, compact cameras and other bits and pieces.
Perhaps the best thing about the removable sleeve, however, is that its hard and flat surface makes it ideal lapboard to place under your laptop when using it on your lap. Keeping you cooler and making your notebook easier to use.
Inside there's more than enough space for a power supply and spare battery, alongside any other small items items you might want to carry. With a little persuasion you can fit a jumper or small hand towel in there too, since the bag is quite flexible and expands to fit most things within reason.
Our only remaining issue with the Built NY Laptop Case is the price. At £79.99 inc. VAT it's at least £20 to £30 more than one would reasonably expect to pay for an attractive, if rather limited, bag. It's a good quality product, without doubt, but doesn't do enough to justify that price tag.
A fun recreational bag that's perfect for the park, beach or any other outdoor activity, it'll serve you well provided you can see past the price.
Many thanks to distributor Simms International for providing our review sample.