Typepad Import Image

If you’ve ever used a messenger bag to tote a laptop, digital compact, and other photo gear, you know these popular and highly functional carryalls are booby trapped with a leg-snagging, arm-rest-catching, extra-long, and extra irritating shoulder strap. When they’re not on your shoulder, these straps will catch on anything within snagging distance.

If this is a pet peeve, meet the Smart Strap. Built into a line of rolling and non-rolling laptop cases by bag-maker Solo, the Smart Strap appears to be an average padded shoulder strap. When you remove it from your shoulder, though, —ZING!—it auto-retracts back into the bag with a sudden snap.

In standard carry-on sizes and in a variety of materials, including leather, ballistic nylon, and ballistic poly (whatever that is), the Solo Laptop Roller and non-rolling Laptop Portfolio have more than the Smart Strap going for them. There’s

* A removable sleeve for laptops up to 15.4 in.
* A zip-down front-panel organizer, with pockets and slots for cards, gadgets, and pens.
* Divided file pockets for papers, newspapers, and your copy of Popular Photography.
* An oversized storage compartment with adjustable padded dividers to conform to your DSLR body, lenses, and a flash. The dividers are removable if you’d rather throw in a change of clothing.

Suggested street prices range from $60 to $180 depending on materials and configuration, and the bags are available through Staples, Amazon.com, and other dealers posted on the Solo website. (www.solocases.com)

Now if only they’d put a Smart Strap on a messenger bag….
—Peter Kolonia
Senior Editor