Laptop Bag: STM Compass Laptop Bag and Sleeve

User Rating:  / 0

STM-compassIntroduction:

The laptop bags we have reviewed up to present have tended to follow the normal messenger or backpack styles. However, our latest review is probably more suited to our female audience and includes a removable laptop sleeve to allow the greatest flexibility of use. The STM Compass is a stylish, but functional tote bag, with plenty of space for every essential as well as well as  any luxuries you might need for your day.

Specifications: 

main material(s): 300x300D water resistant santori
lining: 200g nylex, 70D cross hatch nylon
device space: 9 x 13 x 0.9 in / 23 x 33 x 2.4 cm
outer dimensions: 14 x 15.7 x 5.5 in / 36 x 40 x 14 cm
weight: 2.6 lb / 1.2 kg

STM-compass-graphite

Review:

The STM Compass tote bag is manufactured from a heavy duty santori material with a strong nylon lining throughout and has two strong webbing handles. There is a massive amount of storage inside the bag (accessed by undoing a large zip), with two large internal sections (one of which housing the removable laptop sleeve) and also a fleece lined tablet pocket. To the side of the large main zipped compartment is a second smaller zipped compartment with two pockets for storing smaller items (glasses case, keys etc.). The front of the bag also has a zipped compartment (with a Velcro secured covering flap) which has more pockets for stationery, a further fleece lined pocket for your phone and a further zipped compartment (about A5 size) which is ideal for power supplies or larger peripherals. 

The detacheable laptop fleece lined sleeve housed within the main compartment is made from the same material, but with extra padding, and has a small external document pocket on the outside as well as two handles for easy carrying if you don't need to take the whole bag with you. We reviewed the small version of the Compass and the included laptop sleeve is designed to fit most 13" laptops. The whole bag is really well made with everything feeling solid and great attention to detail (no loose threads or slight imperfections) as you would expect from STM.

Price:

~£65 from Amazon: STM Compass S (Blue or Graphite)

Verdict:

4/5 - The STM Compass does an excellent job of both appearing stylish and business-like, whilst also providing a menagerie of storage compartments, pockets and also a detachable laptop sleeve that makes it incredibly versatile for anyone on the move. As well as this it is very well made using excellent materials that provide plenty of protection and padding for any laptop housed inside.

Laptop Sleeve: Noreve Tradition Fidelis 17-inch leather sleeve review

User Rating:  / 0

Fidelis tablets_leather_sleeve_15_inchesIntroduction:

We have had the opportunity to review a number of smartphone and tablet cases and we have always been very impressed with the quality, with each adding the desired level of extra protection to the devices we have reviewed, as well as an extra level of style. So when we were asked if we fancied having a look at their laptop sleeves we couldn't pass up the chance! Noreve make a number of cases under the "Fidelis" universal product range to suit laptops with screen sizes up to 17" as well as other ranges that are product specific.

Specifications:

 

- Elegant sleeve conceived in top quality handcrafted leather
- Stitching is same color as leather
- Fastens with magnets under the leather
- Slim and padded design
- Unrivalled protection for your computer or tablet
- Cutout for easy removal of device
- Document pocket on the back
- Beautiful interior lining embossed with the Noreve logo

Maximum dimensions for laptop (L x W x H): 39.3 x 26.7 x 2.50 cm or 15.47 x 10.51 x 0.98 inches

Review:

The product specifications listed above (taken from the Noreve website) really don't do justice to this lovingly crafted laptop sleeve. Various options are available with different colours and grades, however the one we were sent for review was the top of the range Onyx (Illumination leather selection) which is designed to fit up to 17" laptops. The Onyx leather finish means that this version of the Fidelis is essentially made from Patent leather giving the finished laptop sleeve a very glossy and smooth finish. The flap is secured with two strong magnets that help secure the contents and inside the sleeve is fully lined with an embossed (with the Noreve trade name) leather. On the back of the sleeve is a material lined document pocket for carrying a few sheets of paper around the you. The laptop sleeve is fairly rigid with padding all over to prevent any damage to any laptop carried inside.

We tested the laptop sleeve with the 17" Apple MacBook Pro (which we get the sneaking feeling the case is more specifically aimed towards!) and the Noreve sleeve fits the MacBook perfectly providing a safe and secure way of carrying it around. As this is a laptop sleeve there are however no pockets for power supplies (although it's unlikely you would need to carry one around too much with the battery life provided by the latest MacBooks). The document pocket really is just deep enough for a few sheets of A4 so don't expect to be able to carry A4 folders with you. However this isn't really the point of the laptop sleeves which are really only designed to protect the laptop itself and as such the Fidelis sleeve is great, with excellent build quality and very stylish design this is one sleeve you will want to keep (and indeed will probably outlast the laptop it carries!).

Price:

~£100 (directly from Noreve).

Verdict:

4.5/5 - As with all the Noreve gear the Noreve Tradition Fidelis 17-inch leather sleeve is of really excellent build and quality, and as ever you get what you pay for! In my mind it isn't unreasonable to pay out for something that will essentially house and protect one of the most expensive and important purchases a household will make (especially if you are buying a £1500+ 17" Apple MacBook Pro).

Music Management: MAGIX Rescue Your Vinyl & Tapes!4 review

User Rating:  / 0

MAGIX Rescue Your Vinyl Tapes 4Introduction:

For those of you that still haven't managed to build (or rebuild) your auido library in a digital format the task can be daunting, and potentially costly if you consider the money required to purchase all of your music collection in a digital format. There are a number of software and hardware options to consider when backing up vinyl and tapes, but one that we have reviewed in the past and performed very well was MAGIX Rescue Your Vinyl & Tapes (despite the length of the package name!). Three iterations on and the software has reached version 4, so lets see what has changed....

Specifications:

Supported operating systems

Microsoft® Windows® 7 (32-bit and 64-bit)
Microsoft® Windows® Vista® (32-bit and 64-bit)
Microsoft® Windows® XP (32-bit)

Minimum system requirements

All MAGIX programs are developed with user-friendliness in mind so that all the basic functions run smoothly and can be fully controlled, even on low-performance computers. Please refer to your operating system’s control panel for technical information on your computer.
Processor: 1 GHz or higher
RAM: 512 MB
Graphics card: Onboard graphics card with a screen resolution of at least 1024 x 768
Sound card: Internal sound card
Hard disk memory: 500 MB free disk space for program installation
Optical drive: CD/DVD drive (only for installation of the box version)
Optional:
Burning: CD-R/RW, DVD-R/RW, DVD+R/RW or DVD-RAM burner
Note: The program's internal online services and the online update require an Internet connection.

Supported file formats
Supported import formats:
Audio: WAV, MP3, WMA, AIFF, OGG Vorbis, M3U, CUE, CD-A, FLAC, AAC
Video sound: AVI, WMV, MXV, MOV, DV-AVI, MPEG-22)
Supported export formats:
Audio: WAV, MP31), MP3 Surround1), WMA, AIFF, OGG Vorbis, CD-A, FLAC, MP3 DVD, AAC2), Audio DVD, Data DVD
Video sound: AVI

Review:

Clearly re-purchasing an entire music collection in a digital format (via iTunes or elsewhere) is not an option for most due to costs. Recording and "ripping" music from existing formats (vinyl and tapes) provides a much more economical, although more time consuming, way of building your digital music library and as such it pays to have a piece of software that does a good job.MAGIX Rescue Your Vinyl & Tapes! 4 ticks all of the boxes with a simple to use software for recording and restoring your music and still includes a good quality pre-amp that allows you to connect your tape deck or record player directly to your PC without the need for a dedicated amplifier which doesn't appear to have changed a great deal between the versions.

The included software (MAGIX Audio Cleaning lab) has changed significantly over the versions to include a much more streamlined, wizard-based system with a multitude of presets for audio optimisation to remove any unwanted noise. The process can now be essentially automated (although there is still room to tweak for those who want to take more of an active part in the optimisation process). In the latest version, in order to further speed up the transfer process with support for high-speed dubbing from tape decks, automatic noise reduction and more presets to apply to recordings to remove specific background. As an MX version of the software, integration with other MAGIX packages is simple, with music files can be easily exported to other MAGIX MX software (for example MAGIX MP3 Deluxe).

MAGIX-audio-cleaning-lab-main-gui-uk

In our tests the softwrae was very simple to use, with the wizards making easy work of recording music from either tape or vinyl and subsequent processing (audio cleaning and backing up to optical disk) and should be suitable for users of any level. Tutorials and an in depth manual (in PDF format) provide more than enough information to allow you to use all of the features. Helpfully the system requirements aren't too high allowing it to be used on older as well as more modern computers, so there is no need to buy a new PC just to back up your collection (although having a newer PC will make it a bit faster!).

Price:

~£50 from Amazon: Rescue Your Vinyl 4 (PC)

Verdict:

4/5 - The updated version of MAGIX Rescue Your Vinyl & Tapes! 4 provides improvements on an already good software and pre-amp combination, making the process simpler and faster for any level of user to backup their music collection in a digital format.