We love our MacBooks, MacBook Pros, and PowerBooks, and while there are a lot of sleeves, cases, and accessories for them, here are our recommendations for gifts this holiday season for the laptop lover in your life.
A few years ago we reviewed a handle for the G4 Powerbook, and it was a nice, all-aluminum design, purely practical, utilitarian, and lacking in any charm at all. This is not the case with the beautiful new handle-it from case-mate. The handle-it is an aluminum handle, covered with leather, that attaches securely to the bottom of your MacBook Pro 15-inch or PowerBook 15-inch by replacing the 4 screws on the bottom that hold the hinge in place. The screws are provided, and it’s a 3-minute job. Once that’s done, you have an easy to grip leather covered handle to carry your computer, and you can place the handle in the “down” position to work. Doing so increases the airflow under your system, resulting in cooler running and happier computer. In the case of the Intel powered MacBooks, which run hot on a good day, helping to get rid of a little heat while improving on the ergonomics is highly recommended. A nice match for the handle-it are case-mate’s sleeves, either the luxurious calf-skin Signature Sleeve, or their nylon glovez sleeve. Both sleeves have a very thin profile, and are designed to fit with their handle-it in place. They are a newcomer to the Mac universe, but all the products I saw from case-mate had the same high level of fit and finish, and their attention to detail is notable.
For more infomation visit: www.case-mate.net
Lots of folks have sleeves for laptops, but Speck took the idea a step further with the Speck See Thru, a unique hard-shell case for the MacBook and MacBook Pro. Made of rigid polycarbonate plastic, with a slew of ventilation slots, the See Thru can be used without removing the case, offering protection against everyday mishaps, dings, and dents! We have tried sleeves made of nylon, neoprene, and other materials that were ostensibly designed to be used with the laptop running, but most of them fail to provide any ventilation, so that you must take the unit out of the sleeve. The Speck See Thru is the first sleeve we have used that works great on the unit while it's running. A smart design, and ideal for the control freak in your life who loves their MacBook, but wouldn’t dare let it get even a ding on it! Speck also makes a nifty iPod case and matching sleeve in the style of an old pair of sneakers that we thought were very cool. The Canvas Sport fits the MacBook Pro 15-inch and MacBook 13-inch, and the 2nd generation Nano. You can’t use your laptop in the Canvas Sport, as it’s a more traditional sleeve, but it’s a fun look, offers good protection, and with the matching case for the Nano or Video iPod, summer can’t be too far away!
For more infomation visit: www.speckproducts.com
If you are a photographer and have a snazzy new MacBook Pro, then the one thing you’ll need on a daily basis is a way to transfer photos from your digital camera to your MacBook Pro. Up until now, there have been two ways - either a cable from the camera to the computer (not a great way to transfer data) or a card reader. Most of us have been using a card reader with a USB or Firewire cable. But what we really want is a card that fits directly into the Express Card slot on the new MacBook Pros. Fortunately your prayers have been answered with Delkin’s new eFilm Express Card Compact Flash Adapter and Griffin Technology’s new Express Card 34 Card Reader. Griffin’s unit can read five popular formats, including Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMedia, SD, and xD card. Delkin’s unit reads only Compact Flash cards, but since that card is the choice for most professional level DSLR cameras, it’s an adapter that photographers have been jonesing for! Both card readers are lickity split fast, require no additional software, and eliminate cables and adapters. Both would make any photographer on your list a full F-stop happier for the holidays!
Computer cases are one of the most competitive areas of Mac marketing. After all, how many ways can you find a way to sling a MacBook over your shoulder? Plenty, it seems, with variations both subtle and extreme. Here are a few notable bags to consider.
Timbuk2 has always been a leader in messenger bags, and one of our favorite bags from Timbuk2 is their new Outtawhack backpack/messenger bag. The Outtawhack is, in many ways, a traditional messenger bag with a dedicated laptop compartment, except that used as a backpack, it’s on an angle across your back, giving you the look of having a messenger bag strapped across your shoulders, but it’s an illusion cleverly made possible by somewhat outtawhack angled straps! That aside, it’s a well-made bag, with Timbuk2’s usual attention to detail, plenty of storage space, and can be used as either a backpack or messenger bag. Tired of nylon? Take a look at Timbuk2’s Single Speed Laptop Courier, made of tried and true canvas. I didn’t test it in the rain, but it has a soft and supple feel, and molds to your body like an old friend. It has a slightly rustic look, so it’s not for everyone, but for the natural fiber lover on your list, it’s a great bag. Take a look also at their Pro Series Backpacks, which were designed by a student in their summer internship program. Designed by Joe Ulrich, an industrial design student at California College of the Arts, the backpack was designed as a result of his nine years of bike messenger work, so it’s designed from a real-world perspective. My only wish was for a more robust hip support belt, since you shouldn’t carry any real weight on your shoulders, but should be supporting it on your waist. But, this bag isn’t designed for backpacking, just short-term use, so it works. We love the idea of their internship program which not only serves the educational mission of academia and provides real-world experience for students, but several products designed by interns have actually made it to product stage. This is not only great for the students, it’s a smart move by Timbuk2, since it allows them to be in touch with what their market actually needs, instead of what they think it needs from the corporate board room.
For more information visit: www.timbuk2.com
Brenthaven, well-known for their luxury bags, makes wonderful bags for Apple and other folks’ laptops, as well as some leather iPod cases in a variety of styles. One of our concerns whenever the thought of carrying our precious laptops around is a fear of flying ... as in flying off to certain destruction as it slips from our shoulder or table. Visions of thousand dollar screen replacements dance in our heads, taking the place of sugar plum fairies! Luckily, Brenthaven has placed an emphasis on protecting the laptop within their stylish cases. Designed with a 6-point protection system, your laptop is protected on the corners with rigid corners that include an air gap suspension system so that even with a serious drop your laptop is more then likely then not to survive the impact unscathed. Our favorite was the Edge II, a sleeve designed for the MacBook Pro, or any other laptop up to 15.4-inches. High quality and elegant design is evident throughout, and while I’d love to say that they are a bit pricey, the fact is they aren’t much more expensive than the competition. The old adage that you get what you pay for is evident in the Brenthaven line, with the added plus of a real concern for protecting your beloved MacBook. For the Mac user, their cases are designed exclusively for the Apple product line, so the fit and finish is perfect for the elegant MacBook user in your life! Hint... don't bypass their nifty Flip Case for iPods, which are both functional and beautifully made.
For more information visit: www.brenthaven.com
Harris Fogel, Posted 12/9/2006