I’ve reviewed quite a few OtterBox PDA Cases in the past, and one of the main traits they all shared was their near indestructible tough design. Today I am going to take a look at Otterbox’s answer to the traditional laptop case. Obviously their version wouldn’t be made of Cordura, leather, or any other “girly” material. To stay true to past design, an OtterBox laptop case would have to be made of heavy duty plastic, be waterproof, and be tough enough that it could carry its contents though the harshest environments without compromising their safety.
When I unboxed this review sample of the OtterBox, my first impression was of how heavy it is! This case outweighs the five pounds my review scale can handle, and if I had to guess – I would put it in the seven pound range. The weight is due to the heavy materials used in its construction; upon initial inspection it becomes immediately evident that this case is a beast, it could handle almost any abuse the owner might throw at it.
Let’s take a walk-through of the case’s features, and then I’m pretty sure that you’ll see why I was so impressed. All pictures in this review are clickable, and will open to a larger photo in a separate window.
The exterior of the case measures 16.375″ wide x 14.5″ tall x 3.375″ deep, and it is sized to hold up to a 15″ screen laptop, which includes widescreen models. According to the OtterBox site, the maximum laptop size that will fit in the interior with the standard bumpers is 14.2″ wide x 11.2″ deep x 1.9″ thick. If you are unsure about whether or not your laptop will fit, there is an interactive sizing guide.
The back of the case has four rubber feet to help keep it from sliding. At the top, near the handle, are two water drain holes which will “allow water to escape from the non-sealed front section of the case”; the laptop is kept in the waterproof area.
Included in the package are the laptop case, four standard bumpers, four large laptop bumpers, two L-shaped bumpers, one shoulder strap, a set of keys and an instruction sheet.
These are the rubber bumpers, which will fit into the case to provide shock absorption.
The backs of the bumpers are covered with the stiff portion, or the “sticky” side of traditional Velcro. The “floor” and “ceiling” of the case are lined in the soft loopy fabric which the bumpers will grab onto and lock into. According to the instruction sheet, “the standard bumpers will work with most laptops. The large bumpers should only be used if the standard bumpers do not allow the laptop to fit securely inside the case.” There are two l-shaped bumpers that can be placed in the corners or middle – wherever additional support is needed. They can also be used when there are connectivity ports which are being obscured by the other bumpers.
The included shoulder strap is 1.5″ wide and composed of webbed nylon. There is a springy 11″ long x 2.5″ wide shoulder pad which is composed of neoprene which has been reinforced with a grippy and flexible rubber backing. The straps can be let out to a max length of approximately 50″, and it can be adjusted on each side to much shorter lengths; on each strap’s end is a metal spring clip.
With the laptop case attached and a laptop installed, the strap is surprisingly comfortable. The stretchy pad helps distribute the load and the handle is also an option when the wearer’s shoulder is tired.
On either side of the case are heavy plastic loops which are attached to the case by a silver screw-peg.
These loops are unobtrusive when the shoulder strap is not attached, and very handy when needed.
The heavy rubber handle measures 1.14″ wide and it has molded finger-grips which make for a very comfortable means to carry when the shoulder strap is not used. The handle is attached to a 1″ wide woven nylon strap which measures about 2mm thick. The handle and the lock are located on the half which raises when the case is opened.
On either on of the handle is a heavy rubber and plastic latch lock, which opens by grasping the top and pulling out; it is latched by connecting from the bottom and solidly snapping shut at the top. This is a very secure method of closure, and it helps to complete the waterproof seal protecting the interior contents.
The bottom of the case has a removable rubber access plug which forms a tight and waterproof seal when shut…
…but can be opened to allow access to the laptop inside. This allows the laptop to be used without removing it from the case completely.
As I mentioned, the floor and ceiling of the case are lined in soft loopy material. The standard bumpers can be placed so that the laptop is suspended inside their rubber shock-absorbing corners. The laptop I’ll be putting inside the case for the review is definitely one of the largeest that this case can accommodate, so I placed the bumpers as far against the wall as possible.
Here is a picture of the Toshiba Satellite A-105 held inside the OtterBox Laptop Case. A 1.5″ wide soft loopy holding strap keeps the laptop in place with a strip of Velcro where the straps cross; this strap should be fastened tightly to prevent the laptop from moving when the case is closed. I found that the tight fit of the bumpers also helped keep everything secure.
The laptop can be opened and used from inside the case by unfastening the Velcro straps and pushing them to the side. the only consideration when using the laptop from within the case would be the way that the computer dispells heat. If there is a tight fit, or if the laptop’s vents are in an inconvenient position, then the laptop may get too hot while in the case; it will be up to the user to decide.
There is a light gray rubber gasket which? surrounds the center of the case, and when the hard black plastic edge of the upper half closes upon the gasket, it forms a waterproof, dustproof and sand-proof seal.
Although the case is waterproof when closed, it is not rated to be carried underwater, and it certainly will not be able to protect its contents if it is opened in the middle of a rain storm. However, when used for transporting the laptop from one location to another, even in some of the harshest conditions imaginable, the case will keep its contents clean and dry. Another benefit of this case is that it can easily withstand several hundred pounds of crushing power. While it will most likely not survive being run over by an SUV (as), it can certainly handle some of the worst abuse imaginable.
Since I mentioned the drain holes earlier, I wanted to show the lock latch mechanism area opposite them, where some water might enter the case without getting to the laptop inside.
I can’t help but be impressed by everything to do with the OtterBox . it is way more case than the average user will ever need, but the same could be said of all OtterBox products. if your domain is in a windowed office in the middle of the city, then this probably wouldn’t be your first choice laptop case. But if your office is on a ship, in the desert, at a ranch, or anywhere that conditions are harsh but a laptop is needed, then this may be exactly what you have been looking for.
The OtterBox is available directly from the manufacturer, as well as other retailers.
What I Like: Solid and rugged construction; dustproof, waterproof and just about crushproof; laptop may be used without removing from case, configurable to fit many laptop sizes, access to rear of laptop via removable rubber plug
What Needs Improvement: Nothing – if this is the type item you need, then this is the one to get!