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Summary:

Many of us traveled this weekend for the holiday, and some of us probably brought along our laptops. Unfortunately, the odds are that a few of us dropped our laptop bags, or worse yet, dropped our laptop directly on the ground. For those owning a MacBook […]

Many of us traveled this weekend for the holiday, and some of us probably brought along our laptops. Unfortunately, the odds are that a few of us dropped our laptop bags, or worse yet, dropped our laptop directly on the ground. For those owning a MacBook or MacBook Pro, the result may not have been pretty. These are beautiful machines, but their cases are rather susceptible to dings and cracks from the occasional bump or drop. Until Apple comes out with a ToughBook competitor, MacBooks should somehow be protected in case of an accident, which could even happen to the most careful computer owner. As an example, my MacBook Pro now has a minor dent on its side because the padded messenger bag holding my laptop took a tumble in Grand Central Station. What are your computer protection options, other than traditional computer bags? Here’s a round up of some other products out there that are designed to protect your Apple laptop.

Speck SeeThruSpeck makes the SeeThru Hard Shell for both the 15″ and 17″ MacBook Pro, as well as the MacBook. The SeeThru (available for about $50) is a polycarbonate shell that fits over your laptop to protect the casing from getting damaged. The shell comes in 8 different color including clear, red, and black. It has vents on the bottom half so the shell helps keep the laptop cool and has cutouts for the ports on the side of the laptop. Techshell makes a similar product (starting at about $60) except it does not have any vents on the bottom part of the case, so I have to wonder about how well heat is dissipated.

MacTruckWhen it comes to heavy duty protection, the MacTruck doesn’t look like it plays any games. It is a combination laptop enclosure and briefcase. As an added bonus, the case doubles as an angled stand for when you are ready to use your laptop. The downside to the MacTruck–pretty darn expensive with prices ranging from $199 to $229. To be fair, do you know what it costs to replace your MacBook’s casing? The same as the MacTruck, sometimes plenty more. MacService will replace either the top or bottom of the MacBook Pro casing for $225 each (that’s $450 if both the top and bottom get damaged). DT&T Services will cost $250 for the top casing, $295 for the bottom casing, and $495 to replace both casings. As a lesser expensive option, if you don’t mind looking like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, you could get a hard shelled backpack over at eBags.com and protect more than just your laptop.

Again, there is a lot of incentive to taking proactive measures to protect your MacBook or MacBook Pro. Replacing your case can be expensive, not only in terms of dollars, but also in terms of time. You’ll have downtime without your computer if you send it in for repair or you’ll have a new experience while trying to rebuild your laptop from spare parts you found online. Keep in mind, I am only talking about cosmetic damage which is largely not covered by AppleCare. Some of these cases may protect more than your Mac’s pretty case.

By Iyaz Akhtar

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  1. I’m carrying notebooks for as long as 15 years. (including the famous Macintosh Portable).
    I NEVER damaged one while carrying it. I ALWAYS have a sleeve for the notebook plus a dedicated cussioned and/or hard cased backpack or other kind of computer bag.
    this way i am hoping it stays like that. Although there is no warranty is stays like this forever. Sometimes we all have to remember how precious the gadgets are we carry around!

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  2. I carried my HP for years and nothing happened to it. Less than two weeks after getting my macbook pro a mystery dent appeared. I’m pissed. I’ve looked into all these cases. thanks for the timely article! I’m checking out ebags…

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  3. When I had my first PowerBook (!2″), I kept it in a bag like you too and it acquired some dents from my dropping the bag one too many times. I even had the Booq Vyper, but it didn’t really provide enough protection.

    Then when I upgraded to the MBP (15″), I got the Axio Hardsleeve which provides awesome protection. It’s got a hard plastic shell case and nice padding on the inside. Don’t have a dent yet. Only problem is it makes your Macbook a bit bigger to transport, so if you have a laptop bag designed for 15″, it might not fit so well.

    I can’t link directly because they have a Flash site, but look for the Hardsleeve:
    http://www.axio-usa.com

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  4. A little different take on a case that provides a work surface as well: the LapTrap by Shaun Jackson Design/Higher Ground:

    http://www.highergroundgear.com/laptrap.html

    This is my primary case for the MacBook. When I’m on extended travel, I use an InCase padded sleeve in my Oakley Sandbag (older model no longer available – the new one has a built-in sleeve). My MacBook still looks like new.

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  5. Check out: http://www.booqbags.com or http://www.sfbags.com Also, http://www.bagreview.com is a site I have found invaluable in researching bags options.

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  6. [...] Akhtar has written a nice article today on TheAppleBlog on ways to protect your Mac notebook [...]

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  7. Stephanie Guertin Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    I managed to get a dent in the corner of my MBP by dropping it on the zipper of the laptop sleeve it was in. I’d had it all of a week; I felt like such a dip for doing it, too. I switched to an STM bag – the sleeve-in-padded bag design is very durable and still quite light.

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  8. I bought my wife a SeeThru Hard Shell for her MacBook a few months after she got it. She’s notorously tough on notebooks, though this one she seems to love better than any of it’s PC predecessors.

    Not only does it protect the surfaces of the laptop (and I suspect would help some small amount in case of a drop), it also makes the MacBook pink which was really the selling point for her.

    When she’s transporting it, she uses a pretty much bog-standard ladies attache bag with a padded insert for carrying whatever laptop you have handy. So far, so good.

    When the time comes for me to upgrade from my eMac to a MacBook, I’ll be quick to invest in the same sort of protection, especially if I get into a MBP.

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  9. I’m looking into getting a protective shell for my macbook…. be careful though, I’ve heard that the colored shells can stain the white macbooks. My friend had a red case from Speck, and now it is a little pink, especially in the places it gets the hottest, like on the bottom.

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  10. I had to give up using my SeeThru Hard Shell after a couple of months.
    !: it adds a lot to the weight.
    2: It greatly restricts the angle of the screen – this is major.

    However, I have it stored for any occasions when I need extra care. There is a stick on scratch protector which sems a better option.

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