First Look: 3 Ways to Cushion Your MacBook from Life's Hard Knocks

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First Look: 3 Ways to Cushion Your MacBook from Life's Hard Knocks

In preparation for our September 2007 feature story on laptop bags, cases, and sleeves, we've got a steadily growing tower of boxes from a wide array of vendors here at our office in lovely South San Francisco.


On a recent trip to New York, we found it extremely handy to have a cushioned sleeve for our 15-inch MacBook Pro, in addition to the built-in protection already featured in our notebook bag. We'll feature full reviews of these three laptop sleeves - plus several more - in our September feature story, but in case you're in the market for a new sleeve now, here's a first look to help you choose between different materials, design, and styling.


Built 15" Laptop Sleeve

The most flamboyant of the trio, Built's 15" Laptop Sleeve ($37.99 for stripes or dots; also available in black, blue, and light green for $34.99) is a rounded-corner neoprene sleeve with a zippered closure on the "tall" end - in other words, you slide the notebook in vertically rather than horizontally. This design comes in extremely handy if you also carry a shoulder bag that's oriented vertically or, obviously, a backpack, because you can get your notebook out of your bag without removing the sleeve.


We like the vertical orientation of Built's neoprene notebook sleeve.


Our biggest complaint about neoprene sleeves in general is how bad they smell when they're new. This isn't a ding on the Built sleeve - just a comment on the material. On the up side, neoprene is a delightfully squishy, cushiony, machine-washable material, and it protects your precious 'Book quite well against bumps and bruises, not to mention extreme heat or cold. (This is not to say that we've done rigorous testing in this area; we're too paranoid to subject our 'Book to such risks.) Double zippers on the Built sleeve let you zip or unzip it from either side - a nice touch. The heavy-duty plastic zipper didn't catch on itself or on the neoprene seam with repeated zipping and unzipping, although it is a bit noisy.


Incidentally, Built is the same company that makes those hip neoprene beverage coolers you've seen in wine and travel shops. Like many of the best Mac and iPod accessories, Built's two-bottle wine tote was born from the age-old "I want this but can't find it on the market" problem. The laptop cases followed, along with Built's $24.99 Charger Bag, which helps you keep your mouse, charger, and other power accessories neat and organized. All Built bags are machine washable.


Although the pattern looks brighter in this photo than it is in reality, the bold stripes on this squishy neoprene laptop sleeve do indeed make a statement. For the less flamboyant, Built's sleeves are also available in solid colors: black, blue, and green.






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