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.