In Part One of this series, I reviewed the 11-inch MacBook Air. This week, I’d like to talk about protecting and carrying that investment, and about the kinds of cases available to do this.
By the way, I am still at guide dog school, and since I’ve had so many questions about the quality of the microphone on the MacBook Air, I’ve put away the equipment I usually use, and am recording from that. So if you are interested in hearing what that sounds like,
It seems that on the whole, people like and need to carry their technology with them. This seems even more true of blind people, maybe due to the fact that some hardware and software is specialized. And even though we’re carrying more stuff, and we’re carrying it more often, we’re usually doing it one-handed because the other hand is holding a harness or a cane. A case should protect the technology you’ve invested in, so it’s important to find one that does the job and does it well. In this case, it may mean paying more than expected for a good, functional bag that meets your needs.
Many cases seem to be designed with fashion in mind rather than function, and that is true of the first bag I have for review. It is the Twelve South BookBook Hardback Leather Case for 11-Inch MacBook Air. It sells for $79, and it is absolutely gorgeous. It looks like a nice, leather-bound Bible or family photo album, and it looks very much like a book. So, you can have it on a table or bookshelf, and no one would know you have a MacBook Air inside. The leather is de-stressed-looking so it shouldn’t scratch or get marked up easily. When you lift the top of the case, the top of the MacBook Air comes up as well. However, this bag has no strap or handle. It can easily fit inside a briefcase, but by itself, for my own personal needs, it is not functional.
The next case is the McNair Slim Brief – Tumi. I love Tumi, and think they’re an excellent company. They are he crème de la crème oft bags, and this one is no different. This is a fantastic bag, but is not really good for my needs. It looks like it will handle a 15 to 17-inch laptop, so the 11-inch really floats around and has too much room to move. The bag has excellent zippers, and pockets of different sizes. There is also a compartment with a magnetic closure that will hold various printed materials. The bag has lots of cushion. It is made of ballistic nylon, and comes in black. I really like leather, but the nylon seems durable and water-resistant. The back of the bag has an excellent feature for all of us who travel with our technology. There are zippers across the top and bottom rear of the bag. When you unzip these, you have a sleeve which will fit snugly over the pull-up handle of a piece of luggage. The carry strap is comfortable and doesn’t slip off my shoulder. It feels like the same material used to make seatbelts, so it shouldn’t fray or tear. The strap attaches to the bag with a locking mechanism, which I like very much. This cuts down on the possibility of either the strap or the attachment point breaking, and is another way to ensure that your equipment stays protected. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a cheap Tumi bag, and at $255, this one is no exception. I’m trying to find a different bag from Tumi, hopefully in leather, that is better sized for the MacBook Air.
The final bag is the MacBook Air Wallet shown with 11″ MacBook Air and accessories from Waterfield Designs. It comes in various colors, but I chose black. It’s ballistic nylon with de-stressed leather around the edges, so if you sit it down often, it shouldn’t show extra wear. It isn’t much to look at, but it’s a great bag for my needs. It has a much thinner profile than the Tumi bag, and everything fits snugly and does not shift. The zipper goes about halfway around the bag, so you have plenty of room to insert the MacBook Air. The bag has three compartments for accessories. The smallest one is ideal for a cell phone. I use the medium-sized one for accessories, and the largest compartment accommodates an external drive. (We’ll be talking more about drives and power options in Part Three of this review, so I hope you either tune into that podcast or read the blog). There is an elasticized pocket on the back of the bag which is great for stashing small items you need to access quickly. While this bag is thin, it is more a case than just a sleeve. The bag has ample padding, and the MacBook Air fits securely, and does not move around. There is a compartment behind the main one that I use to hold the Kindle and some cables. There are several options for the strap on this case. You can opt to have no strap at all, you can have O-rings added and use your own strap, or you can use one of two straps they sell. There is a ten dollar difference between the two straps, so I got the better one, which sells for $22. The basic strap sells for $12.The bag sells for $89 for the 11-inch and $99 for the 13-inch MacBook Air. This is an amazing bag, and is definitely the one I use most.
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I welcome your comments and questions, and will address as many as I can in Parts Three and Four of this review. You can submit your thoughts by sending an iReport through iBlink Radio, emailing the podcast team, or calling the Blab Line at (866) 997-blab, or 2522.