Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review (55cm Expandable 4-Wheel)

In Travel

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner – Lightweight & versatile travel companion, with a few considerations…

Update (01/07/2018)After a year of being used on almost a 100 flights (lost count how many), and being used quite heavily; I’ve decided to update the review scores from “Build Quality” from 70 to 85 and “Value” from 80% to 85% as the case has lasted very well – but only 85% as I find the handle to be a bit on the wobbly side at times. But the expanding handle has lasted really well considering I’ve been carrying the suitcase from it when it’s been stuffed with things and heavy, which one shouldn’t do.  Finally, I will drop “Functionality” to 80% because I feel like the front compartment isn’t as suitable for anything other than sleek things like papers and laptop (so toiletries will be a struggle unless you only pack a few bits, but I maybe tend to pack too many toiletries…). You can check out my Travel & Review Update here.


For me choosing this piece of Samsonite cabin luggage was a fairly easy choice as it has enough space for me to go for business travels with just one piece of cabin luggage instead of two. This is because the quick-access front compartment eliminates my need to have a separate business laptop bag or a backpack. And the cabin luggage also complies with EasyJet and British Airways cabin sizes (and many more). But do always make sure the cabin luggage and the expanded size works for your airline before purchasing one – just in case. But is this the cabin luggage for you? I’ll try to help you decide! Read on to find out more what I think of the luggage in my Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review.

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review

The Prodigy can also be bought in a classic 2-wheel version (Amazon Link), a normal 4-wheel spinner (Amazon Link), and then what I’ve got: The Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Expandable 55cm / 22inch Black Laptop Cabin Case (Amazon Link). You can also get the Prodigy in “Ivory Gold”, but I chose the black one. All of these variations of the Prodigy are probably as good, if not one better than the other – based on your individual needs. I’ve found the price difference between the versions to be not that big, so it’s not about if you can afford one or the other. It’s that you should just think what you’ll be using the cabin luggage for and choose accordingly.

Specifications & Key Features:

Material: 100% Polycarbonate
Dimensions: 55 x 40 x 23 cm
Expanded dimensions: 55 x 40 x 26 cm
Volume: 40 litres / 47 litres (expanded)
Weight: 2.8 kg
Max laptop size: 38.5 x 27 x 4 cm (⌀ 41.7 cm)
Max tablet size: 24 x 19 x 0.9 cm (⌀ 24.5 cm)
Warranty: Limited 5 year global warranty

Additionally:
– Front compartment for your laptop / tablet, other ‘sleek’ items
– Integrated ID/Address-tag
– TSA combination zipper-lock for both compartments
– Wet pocket
– 4 Rubberised Wheels


Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Expandable 55cm / 22inch Black Laptop Cabin Case

Check out the latest price and full product description on Amazon:
Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Expandable 55cm / 22inch Black Laptop Cabin Case
(Amazon Link)


The Design

The design is what I’d call typical Samsonite quality, where the looks meet the functionality. If you compare this Samsonite cabin luggage (or any other Samsonite luggage for that matter) to other manufacturers; what you’ll usually find is that Samsonite excels in making use of the limited space available with small details that all add up to more space or increased convenience – whilst looking nice! For example the way that Samsonite integrates the pull handle tubes into the frame in super flush way gives a lot of packing room for the actual luggage versus most competition. (And it looks quite cool as a detail!)

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review - Pull Handle

And with this cabin luggage I noticed instantly that they’ve managed to get more packing room by optimising the space that the 4 wheels take in terms of reduced clearance and overall compact design. (4 wheels commonly come at the expense of the luggage internal size!)

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review - Side View

I’ll just have to point out, that from the pictures that Amazon & Samsonite had of the luggage, I got the impression that the details throughout the case were almost golden, but the colour in real life is more so like a toned-down brass colour rather than anything else. But this is a tasteful choice vs. if they were actually gold-coloured (would be a bit tacky). Everything from the zippers, the TSA lock, pull handle & Samsonite logo badge are in this nice colour – apart from the wheels. Because the wheels are plastic (vs. the actual metallic details) and the colour is therefore not exactly as everywhere else – albeit still nice and probably the colour difference isn’t that noticeable unless you’re looking for it. For this black model the brass-y details continue throughout the case all the way to the fabrics, making it a very stylish companion.

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review - Samsonite Emblem

Inside the luggage you’ll find the design to be a bit ‘raw’ when compared to other manufacturers that line the insides with fabrics to cover all the screws and bolts… But in Prodigy everything is visible: All handles and wheels can be removed with a hex key or a torx bit easily – and this is of course convenient for replacing any broken parts. It also optimises the space because no space was wasted in hiding the bolts – as they really don’t need to be hidden from inside the case anyways.

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review - Inside the Luggage

Front Compartment

This is undoubtedly a great idea – and it’s been a long time coming for cabin sized ‘hard cases’. As mentioned before; this is one of the key features for me and why to choose this cabin luggage. Just so I could make the frequent early flights a bit easier by making going through security a bit easier, and only having to carry one piece of luggage, instead of two.

However, as the front compartment shares the room obviously with the front half of the luggage – you have to be mindful not to pack it too full – as this will make the front compartment harder to use and could even make it near-impossible to close the front compartment if you put anything in it that’s not flat: Like for example your toiletries will not have enough space in the front compartment in addition to your laptop  if the luggage is packed too full. Again not a real concern, but something to keep in mind so there are no surprises.

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review - Front Compartment

Zippers

I have to also point out that the zippers that attach to the TSA lock are on the long side (because of the need to attach to the lock) – and I think I’ll be more inclined to use the TSA lock always as a ‘zipper holder’ so they don’t poke out or get caught anywhere. But it’s also nice to know that nobody has tampered with your luggage. If you have free moving zippers people could just open and close the zipped luggage again without your knowledge, but as the zippers are secured in one position closing the case cannot be done after it’s been opened with the classic ballpoint pen trick.

Now of course these TSA combination locks are pretty useless, and do not add that much in terms of actual security… But at least they make it very hard for anyone to just quickly get in-and-out to your belongings without your knowledge.

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review - Top View

As the Prodigy has two sets of zippers: One for the just closing the luggage normally, and the one for expanding, this means you basically have two sets of zippers securing the contents as well! Which is nice for securing contents, but you still do have to open two sets of zippers if you choose to close both of them every single time.

Build…. Quality?

This is one of the only worries I have for the luggage. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s well built, well designed, and clearly the Samsonite luggage quality you can expect… BUT. As the luggage looks like something that could be described as ‘hard shell’, I wasn’t expecting the amount of flexibility and the thin material that’s being used… to be so thin! But that being said, it might be a lot more durable than the first impressions I got. And honestly I’d expect it to be as it’s a Samsonite luggage. BUT… It just feels so thin that I have my doubts – for now at least.

The flex might even be a good thing for all I know, as it’s less prone to crack… Or maybe the flexibility of the case would only be a problem if you travel with the suitcase totally empty. And let’s face it, you’re a bit of a weirdo if you travel with an empty suitcase. I honestly have no clue as I’m no expert on the polycarbonate material they have used – only time will tell.

Enjoy this poorly filmed video of me fondling the suitcase to demonstrate the flex I’m referring to – so I’m not making it sound worse than it is… In the video I’m quite firmly squeezing the empty luggage:

Also, the ability to expand the case is great – and will add an extra 7 litres to the case – but it also makes the already fairly thin case more vulnerable – so I’d only use the luggage expanding feature for temporary purposes, and only when you have the luggage in your cabin and not as checked in unless using straps to reinforce the bag. And also, the luggage should be expanded only for things like clothing.

However, if you cannot get away from packing a few heavier things, say you have to bring a couple of bottles of wine from France, you should pack the heaviest bottles towards the back lower corners, where the wheels are next to the the pull handle; for best balance, support and least strain on the flexible luggage frame or the fabric expandable bit.

Ok… How much can I fit in it?

Well that’s a simple question to answer. Not completely dependant on things like what size of a person you are (what size clothes) and what style of clothes you pack and so on! But just as an example I wanted to see if I had enough for my own needs for 5 days of travel with a few extra things, and I did! (Would have felt very stupid for getting this if I didn’t):

5 shirts packed in a TRAVANDO ® Shirt Carrier (Amazon Link), 3 t-shirts, 5 pairs of boxer shorts and socks,  leather shoes, jeans, leather belt, two ties, gym shoes, gym clothes, clothes brush, lint roller, laptop, charger & other accessories, toiletries and so on.

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review - How Much Can You Fit?

The gym shoes & clothing didn’t fit without forcing if not expanding the luggage, but when the luggage was expanded I actually still had a bit of room to put even more stuff – which is nice to know in case there is a need to pack that extra jumper or a shirt. From the picture you can see that the fabric used for expanding isn’t even tight or expanded to the fullest potential by packing in everything that was in the previous picture:

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review - Luggage Fully Packed

I’d also like to point out that I was quite happy to find out that the TRAVANDO ® Shirt Carrier (Amazon Link) fit perfectly in the zipped compartment of the luggage. However, 5 Charles Tyrwhitt shirts in this shirt carrier is about the maximum you should put in there, so you don’t crease the shirts or lose the valuable space from the front compartment if the inner section is too full:

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review - Travando Extras

The Prodigy comes with a wet pocket, but the plastic is not 100% clear so I’m not sure if it’s usable for your carry-on liquids. I bought this Travando ® Clear Toiletry Bag (Amazon Link) – because of consistency or some other excuse like that… QUICK UPDATE: That toiletry bag isn’t allowed in your carry-on luggage! Nor is apparently anything that has a zipper. (Managed to get through Gatwick airport security over 10 times with that travel bag until someone picked up on it. Great and consistent security if not allowed then hey?!)

Do I think you should get one?

Maybe. I think it’s a very good looking & smart little spinner packed with lots of wonder, something that you could even describe as a business luggage because of the smart looks and all the functional capabilities. And the potential for making your life easier as a frequent flyer is definitely there; but you still need to pack the Prodigy correctly so that you can utilise the front laptop pocket to its fullest. But that’s not a complaint, more of an observation that in life you have to use things correctly or as they’re meant to be used, instead of just abusing everything and then going online to leave negative reviews when something wasn’t ‘fit for purpose’ – even though what really wasn’t fit for purpose were the users’ intellectual capabilities…

Ahem. Anyways… But for the actual purchase decision, it always depends on what you want to use it for:

YES, IF:

  • You need a (Samsonite) 4 wheel cabin luggage, mostly for lightweight use such as short business trips
  • You are looking to make your life easier at airport security as a frequent flyer
  • You need a cabin luggage with a quick-access compartment

NO, IF:

  • You intend to fill the luggage with bricks or something of equivalent weight
  • … And you need the expanding feature all the time (get a thicker case instead)
  • You intend to check the luggage in frequently – it’s a cabin luggage after all and a very lightweight one

So if you’re looking for a ‘cheap’ Samsonite luggage for your frequent business travels, this could very likely be ‘the one’ for you too! Just as long as you’ve set your expectations with what you’re getting and how to use it, and can be bothered to pack your luggage correctly!

And finally; not to sound like a Samsonite salesperson… but this is from my personal experiences: A good luggage is one of those things it’s worth to pay a bit more to get a proper one, rather than struggle with cheaper options and keep replacing them when they fall apart, making the cheaper ones the more expensive choice in the long run and your life that much more miserable.

I hope my Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review has provided you with some insights, allowing you to make a better decision whether this cabin luggage suits your needs or not. If you do decide to purchase this or something similar through Amazon because of the information I have provided: I’d appreciate greatly using one of my Amazon links to complete the purchase!

Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review

The Good!

  • Overall design: Looks very nice while functional
  • Lightweight
  • Front compartment makes airport security a breeze
  • Rubberised wheels for less noise

The Bad!

  • The luggage feels quite thin and flexible
  • Wheels not as easily removed as the rest of the parts
  • Having to unzip the luggage twice is a minor annoyance - but this is a choice
  • Weirdly, a bit of a fingerprint-magnet
Value
85 %
Build Quality
85 %
Functionality
80 %
Design
95 %
86%FINAL SCORE

A very good looking lightweight luggage - But only time will tell how durable

My first impressions of the Samsonite Prodigy Expandable Spinner have been very good, however only time will tell if the lightweight 'hard case' is an issue for durability or not. In either case I shall update the review accordingly once the luggage has seen a couple of countries for a few times. (i.e. when can be bothered to, or if something worth mentioning were to happen)

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5 commentsOn Samsonite Prodigy Spinner Review (55cm Expandable 4-Wheel)

  • Great unbiased review, I am tossing up between this or the lite-biz 55cm spinner, but I think for the extra litre capacity and option to expand and the extra 300 grams or so over the lite-biz 55cm spinner, I think this Prodigy might be a winner. Thanks again.

    • Hi Micky & thanks for the comment!

      I just got home last night from a 5-day work trip and managed to squeeze in 4 bottles of wine as well in addition to the five days of clothes. And because I packed the heavy stuff sensibly in the ‘back lower end’ it didn’t cause any problems for the case – so I might have to update my review and complaining about the flexibility after I do a few more trips. But so far so good at least! (4 return trips in as of now) The spinner follows you around when heavy or light very nicely in comparison to other makes I’ve used before (Mainly American Touristers).

      I’ll mention two things I haven’t had the insight to in the review which I’ll add later in some form when updating:
      1. Filling the inner front compartment really comes at the price of the space of the front compartment. So last trip I opted to just put my shirts into the actual compartment of the luggage rather than into the zipped inner front compartment mentioned in the review – and that made using the front one so much easier. Making it easier to close and reach your toiletries + laptop quickly when needed.
      2. I find the trolley pull handle still a bit wobbly like every other luggage I’ve owned – but it’s still better than the others I’ve had. (I’m not sure if there are any non-wobbly ones?) But that’s fine as you’re supposed to only pull the luggage from it, not carry it from the handle. And as for the carry handles they’re very comfortable and have a hard topside but a rubbery and soft underside which makes for a very nice handle.

      Finally: Just had a quick look at the Lite-Biz Spinner you mentioned and it’s probably a bit nicer in terms of build and how sturdy it is, based on what I can make of it online – but the lack of space would be a bit of a problem for me too… But the good thing about these Samsonite bags is that usually you can’t go wrong with them – just pick accordingly to your personal needs and you’ll be (probably) a happy traveller! Cheers. 🙂

  • Hey Toni,

    As I would primarily use this as a carry-on, I have realised there is a 2-wheel version of the prodigy (has bigger rear wheels also), which holds an extra 3 litres (43l) than the 4-wheel version (40l). As I am not too concerned for a 4-wheeler carry-on, the extra 3l would definitely be beneficial.

    When I am travelling light and just have carry-on baggage, I usually bring a separate laptop bag, but not have any lap-top inside, I would usually jam this with more clothes, but to the point where it is not too obvious there would be any laptop inside.

    Generally, airlines will allow you to bring another piece of baggage, laptop bag, hand bag etc, only if it is under 2kg (some airlines will require less weight restrictions) this little bit extra always helps. So far 10+ trips and it’s helped a lot doing this method 🙂

    Will look out for your updates soon.

    Thanks again.

    Michael

  • Hi, thanks for the review of prodigy I think this is a great case for me. Alternatives in shell with a front zip section is Lojel, they are in luggage stores in Sydney. Regards, Geoff

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