Customer Review

523 of 547 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for a road-warrior, July 13, 2011
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This review is from: SwissGear ScanSmart Laptop Computer Backpack SA1908 (Black) Fits Most 17 Inch Laptops (Personal Computers)
I bought this to replace a SwissGear 'Melton' backpack I'd been using for 3+ years. My old backpack suffered a rip when I accidentally snagged it on a sharp edge (my fault) but had otherwise been the best laptop backpack I had ever owned (of 5).

On the other hand, this SA1908 is the worst I have ever owned and I have returned it. Within hours of transferring my junk to it one of the zippers burst, just as other Amazon reviewers have reported (I now read). On my backpack it was the zipper for the small compartment at the foot of the bag and all I had in there was a couple of USB flash drives and an iPod cable. Hardly over-stressing the zip. The zippers are obviously lower quality than the ones on my previous backpack.

I had to use the backpack for a trip with 6 flights involved since I had no other backpack available. Over the course of that trip I realized:

- The TSA/Equiv do not recognize the backpack as ScanSmart and every time I was told to remove my laptop despite my opening the backpack per SwissGear instructions. (PHX, PHL, LGW (UK), MAN (UK), JFK, ATL).

- There are too few small pockets. Every pocket extends to the bottom of the laptop so you need to rummage wrist-deep or elbow-deep to find anything. I'd prefer many more small pockets to organize things.

- The top handle is set too far back to be able to place the backpack on a rolling 22" cabin-baggage rollaboard case and hold both the backpack handle and the rollaboard handle in one hand. It is possible but very uncomfortable as your hand cannot grip properly.

- The top handle is only made of quilted fabric and does not have any interior steel strengthening as other SwissGear laptops have or had. I doubt this handle would stand the test of time.

- The side-pockets intended for water bottles are too baggy and any water bottle will fall out every few minutes.

- The zipper toggles are stylish but functionally wanting. Rather than a simple toggle you can just pull, these have polygonal loops which attach to the zipper closure and every time you need to open or close a zip the toggle has fallen to the wrong angle and jammed so that you have to spend seconds fiddling with the toggle.

- There is very little padding in the bottom of the laptop compartment. If you are not super careful setting down the backpack on a hard surface you can hear the crunch as the corner of your laptop hits the floor.

In the week I had to use it the stitching in one of the shoulder straps popped and the edging began to fray away. If I kept it longer the shoulder strap would have separated. (This with one light 4lb laptop, charger, a paperback book, a few light cables, and some Bose headphones).

Overall: I hope this laptop isn't representative of all SwissGear's present products because I do hope to buy another. I'll be inspecting backpacks in person though before I purchase another.
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Tracked by 4 customers

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Showing 1-9 of 9 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 7, 2011 9:52:24 AM PST
FlyCaster says:
Your travel and needs for a backpack are similar to mine, so your review was very helpful. So, what backpack did you go with?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 7, 2011 10:16:04 AM PST
F. G. Gates says:
I ended up buying a Swissgear SA1923 backpack. So far so good. Zips are much stronger and the toggles never twist and foul. Pockets are more numerous and smaller.

All in all I'd buy the same again. It's 90% the ideal laptop bag. If I were to find fault I'd like to see a second grip-handle to facilitate carrying it on top of a roll-aboard 22" suitcase because while the regular handle can be pulled back to do the job it isn't a natural fit. The pulls for the shoulder straps are also very long and there is nowhere to tuck them into to keep them from dangling. Not a biggie, but I have to pay attention to them when I put the bag on the back seat of my car to make sure they don't dangle past the door when it is closed.

Posted on Feb 4, 2013 4:55:23 AM PST
thanks for a well thought out & written review --- as well as your response to the query below.

I was going to purchase this backpack today because it was advertised on special at $40+ tax... I changed my mind based on this... Thanks very much!

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2013 4:49:38 AM PST
You might want to check out this backpack:
SwissGear Computer Backpack
I've had mine for 3 1/2 years and it works great, has the 2nd top handle at the very back edge of the pack that slips over a rollerboard handle. Works great with my Dell Latittude 15" laptop.

Posted on Mar 16, 2013 10:23:33 AM PDT
Barb says:
I'm with Smiling Guy. Having read a multitude of reviews (good, bad, indifferent), YOUR well thought out, thorough review has been most helpful in my decision to pass - thank you! In the off-chance you revisit this thread, might you remember and please share with us the make and model of the backpack you replaced with this one?

Posted on Mar 16, 2013 10:45:54 AM PDT
I'm with Barb on her comments about your review. Yours was well thought out and helped me decide to pass on buying this backpack today. Please tell us which backpack now works for you?

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 26, 2013 4:34:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 26, 2013 4:38:57 PM PDT
F. G. Gates says:
Hi - sorry for the delay. I can't find a type number label anywhere in the Swissgear backpack I bought (invoice says SA1923) but it looks identical to their present-day ScanSmart Model 1900. That model suits my needs as outlined in my original review. As for durability I ordered it on Jan 15 2012 and have used it every day, even vacation since then. Maybe not Christmas. There is no obvious wear and tear except for a SwissGear badge coming off. The stitching and zips are all as good as the day it was made.

Worth noting that I gave up with ScanSmart very early on as it is just easier to pull out the laptop than run into a delay while the TSA yells at you. That aside this laptop works as advertised. In fact, I habitually carry 3 laptops in it: an ancient Lenovo T400 (1" thick 15" screen) in the intended pocket and two Ultrabooks in the ScanSmart space where the whole backpack would unzip into a butterfly were I to use it. So, the Model 1900 is even better than I expected since the ScanSmart feature effectively gives me another semi-padded sleeve for a laptop or two Ultrabooks.

Posted on Jun 4, 2013 1:33:11 PM PDT
Derek Schatz says:
I have this backpack and hate it. I have experienced all the same functional issues that F.G. has, with my main ire directed at the crappy zippers.

Posted on Apr 17, 2014 10:15:35 PM PDT
arkwebgirl says:
I should have read your review prior to purchasing. I tried to return mine today but I missed the 30 days return window.
My travel needs are similar to yours and this backpack is a mess - the left shoulder strap came off today. Last week two of the zipper compartments broke. Thanks again for writing your review!
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Location: Chandler, AZ USA

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