I tote two different laptops between locations these days, switching them out (or sometimes bringing both) depending upon what my needs will be once I’ve arrived. For the most part, I’ve been content to slip my MacBook Air into a bag, a sleeve, or the Agent 18 shell that Dan recently forwarded to me, but I hadn’t yet found a similar slim and protective MacBook Pro shell. Bear in mind, the type of transport I usually do involves grabbing my laptop, throwing it into my Louis Vuitton Alto tote (along with a couple days’ worth of clothing), and then driving to my destination (and back). This is what I do days when I am traveling as lightly as possible, and I don’t want to bring a full-sized laptop bag.
When I first saw the DecoCases EcoDesign Case for MacBook Pro, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the hard-shell aluminum cases I have long enjoyed on my PDAs. I’d never really thought about using something similar on a laptop, but I would soon have the opportunity to see if I’d like it…
This case is available for the MacBook Pro15″, the MacBook Pro 17″, and the MacBook; the formfitting shell is composed of Bluish-Black aluminum, and it has injection molded magnesium closures and strap connectors which are to “increase strength and decrease weight.” It feels substantial, but not heavy; protective, but not thick.
I found it interesting that DecoCases took the time to explain on their website why they went with metal, instead of leather or synthetic fibers. Their main argument against leather was that it takes the hide of the cow or lamb, and treats it “with various substances which including mineral salts, formaldehyde, coal tar derivatives and various oils, dyes and chemical, some of the them are cyanide-based. Most leather is Chrome-tanned and it can give the environment chrome pollution.” Eck.
Their argument against synthetic fibers was that they are “not natural material and most of them [are] the by product of oil. During the production of the material, [the process employs] a lot of chemicals and it is not good for the environment.”
They use metal, aluminum specifically, because “it is one of the most abundant elements in the world, it is one of world most common adapted recycled and recyclable material for manufacturing. The material can provide both mechanical and environmental properties suitable for an Eco-design notebook computer case.”
Measuring 14.5″ long x 10.3″ wide x 1.3″ thick, the shell weighs 28 ounces. The front has a clear plastic window which allows the Apple emblem to show through when the case is open and the laptop is in use; I thought this was a little bit unnecessary and would have preferred full protection.
The back has vents cut into the underside to allow air to circulate when the MBP is in the case and in use. There are four rubbery grip pads which will help keep the laptop from sliding when it’s lying on a flat surface.
The integrated heat conduction plate sits directly under the bottom of the pro, and it is to help cool the laptop when it is in use. The vents sit on the end of the case which is naturally elevated when the two halves are fully opened, and they should allow cool air to circulate in the space created under the laptop case and a desk. The EcoDesign case is lined in neoprene, which should protect the ensconced laptop from bumps as well as scratches.
The MBP fits snugly, but not too tightly in the bottom half of the case. Because the bottom half is cut properly, the MacBook Pro need never be removed from the shell to access all of the ports on the left side. The case is made so that its top half can cradle the screen of the MacBook when the laptop is opened, or the top half can be laid flat when there is room.
When the shell is closed, all but the power port will be completely covered and protected.
When the case is laid flat, you can see how the rear of the laptop is raised to allow air to circulate; I found that this natural incline also results in a comfortable angle for keying. I was concerned that my MBP might get too hot inside the case, even with the heatsink and the vents, simply because the MBP’s vent is located under its rear hinge, not on its bottom or sides; I needn’t have worried.
The shell is kept securely closed by a pair of sliding magnesium clasps. You can see that there is also a cutout so that the headphone port is accessible when the laptop is inside.
On each side is a low-profile magnesium strap connector which can lay flat when the case is being used inside another bag…
…or can be flipped up to accept a clipping shoulder strap when the user needs to carry the case by itself. There is no matching strap sold on the DecoCases site; I think that was an oversite and they should offer one.
The EcoDesign Case is an excellent option for people who need a slim yet strong carry solution for their MacBook Pro. No, you won’t be able to bring along a cable or any peripherals inside the case; but you can carry your laptop safely without worrying about it being bumped, dinged or crushed. Peripherals can go beside the case inside a larger bag, or they can stay at home when you are only going to do a couple hours’ work and they won’t be needed.
If they made a streamlined model for the MacBook Air, I would definitely want one of those, too!
What I Like: Hard shell, fitted protection; very well made; naturally raises the keyboard when the case’s top lid is lying flat; allows air to circulate, keeping the laptop cool; low profile shoulder strap connectors
What Needs Improvement: It would be great if DecoCases offered a matching shoulder strap