by Wayne A. Thorp
Axis: $34.99 to $49.99; Blazer: $35 to $45
Stylish yet functional laptop sleeves in a variety of sizes.
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These days, many people have notebook computers, Ultrabooks or tablets. The beauty of these devices, among other things, is their portability. However, when we are taking them out and about, we also want to be sure our digital investment is well-protected. For those who are more fashion-conscious, you don’t always want to be carrying around a laptop bag. In addition, you may not need all the extra space that a laptop bag provides. Or you may be looking for a means to protect your device while carrying it in a “regular” bag. There are almost as many companies selling bags and cases as there are making chargers, adapters and other accessories. One of these is STM, which was founded in Australia in 1998. The company’s mission is “to come up with a more comfortable, secure and stylish means of transporting your digital gear.” They produce a number of bags and sleeves for laptops, tablets and phones. Recently they gave me two of their laptop sleeves: the axis and blazer.
Compared to the axis, I would call the blazer the “skinny jeans” version of the two. In my opinion, this case is really designed for your Ultrabook or a very thin laptop and nothing else. It comes in three laptop sleeve versions: extra small (11.8 by 7.6 by 0.9 inches of device space); small (12.7 by 8.9 by 0.9 inches); and medium (15.2 by 10.4 by 1.6 inches). The exterior is made out of 300 Denier polyester, while the interior consists of 200 Denier water-resistant polyester. In addition, there is a continuous layer of high-density padding to protect whatever you are carrying. I was quite impressed with the amount of padding and have little doubt that it would protect my device from a serious drop.
On the back is a large zippered pocket and on the front there is another pocket. However, from my experience, you are lucky to get more than a few sheets of paper in those pockets. I was given the small model and after sliding my HP Folio 13-1020us Ultrabook snugly into it, there was no way I was going to be able to fit a charger, or even my iPhone, into those pockets. Also, on the back is a slot for your cell phone. It was a tight fit for my iPhone 5 and its battery case, and I think I would be hard pressed to get it out of the pocket before an incoming call went to voicemail. I would definitely consider the blazer a sleeve, offering protection for your iPad or notebook when carrying it in a lightly passed bag or when using by itself, but nothing more.
The blazer comes with a detachable shoulder strap. I nearly broke one of the clasps trying to remove it, so be sure to treat them with care when attaching or removing the shoulder strap. There is also a handle on the side of the blazer to let you carry it vertically.
Like all STM products, the blazer is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Compared to many of the other sleeves I have used in my day, the blazer offers some serious protection for your iPad or laptop. If you are looking for something to carry your iPad/laptop, charger, cables and other odds and ends, however, you may want to consider the axis. Once you put your device in the sleeve, there isn’t much room for anything else. The blazer is a sleeve for those looking to protect their device while carrying it in a lightly added bag. Given its level of protection, I don’t think the $40 price tag for the size-small blazer is excessive, either. At this time, I could only find the blazer at the REI website.
- Provides excellent protection for your iPad or laptop
- Solid construction
- Removable shoulder strap and side handle for vertical or horizontal carrying
- Lifetime warranty
- No room for anything besides your device
- Only available online from REI
The axis is for those looking to carry a bit more than just their laptop. There is a slight tradeoff, however, as the axis doesn’t provide quite the amount of padding found in the blazer. That being said, I still feel it is adequate for typical everyday use. Like the axis, there are three laptop sleeve models: extra small (11.8 by 7.6 by 0.8 inches of device space); small (13.0 by 9.12 by 0.9 inches); and medium (14.3 by 9.8 by 0.9 inches).
The axis’ exterior is made of 300 Denier water-resistant santori, while the inside compartment is lined with soft-brushed nylex.
On the front, there are two pockets: one running along the top long edge of the bag and the other running on the short edge. The long pocket has slots for pens and is deep enough for a note pad, charging cables and, barely, my AC adapter for my Ultrabook. The other pocket is just big enough to fit a cellphone.
Like the blazer, the axis comes with a detachable shoulder strap. On the side opposite the zipper pockets are two built-in handles, so you can carry the axis horizontally or vertically.
The axis laptop sleeve offers a bit more flexibility than the blazer. It is for those looking for a slim carrying case for their notebook/Ultrabook who also want to carry a few accessories along with it. “A few” being the operative phrase. While the axis does offer a bit more storage capacity than the blazer, it is a travel bag. Both the axis and blazer have their pros and cons. If I had to pick one, it would be the axis, simply because it holds more. While it doesn’t offer quite the amount of padding as the blazer, the axis still will protect your device from normal wear and tear. The extra $5 you are paying for the axis over the blazer is also worth it, given its great storage capacity.
- More room for accessories than blazer
- Solid construction
- Lifetime warranty
- Shoulder strap difficult to remove
STM axis & blazer small laptop sleeves
Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.