My thoughts on mba 13 sleeves: waterfield, hard candy, booq, incase, more

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by unagimiyagi, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. unagimiyagi, Aug 13, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2011

    unagimiyagi macrumors 6502a

    Jun 9, 2009
    Well here you go:

    Incase neoprene plus sleeve: never left the store. But I put my air inside it in the store, and getting it in and out seems a bit awkward. The lip also does not fully cover a tiny sliver of the air's lid. Not enough protection at all. This is thinner than their zippered sleeves that are for the macbook pro series. There is no way that I would use this unless it's inside an already padded laptop compartment in a backpack. $40

    Booq Viper: $50. This is a good sleeve and it's basically a hard case. Technically, semi-hard, but definitely alot better protection than any neoprene sleeve. I tested it but basically setting the air down hard on a table while inside it, and the air is not going to have any problems. What typically happens is that you round a corner too fast and your sleeve will hit a wall or something like that. Or you set down your sleeve/backpack too hard onto the ground. Or you may even drop your backpack while your air is inside. For all of these scenarios, the Viper will protect your air. From personal experience, even while inside a neoprene sleeve, I had a pro that still dented. So I clearly have a bias there that neoprene sleeves are good for protecting against scratches, but no thickness is really going to be enough. I am also clearly serially clumsy. One thing that I like about the Viper is that the whole air slides into fitted neoprene pocket inside the case. Part of good protection comes down to fit, and it fits really tightly. It loosens up over a week, but you will struggle to remove the air b/c the fit is so tight. But at least the air doesn't budge at all once you do manage to get it in. The reason I'm harping on how hard it is to remove the air is because I was worried that I had to dig my fingers beneath the air and press down on the lid too hard to get a grip on the air to simply remove it from this fitted neoprene pocket. Downsides: it smells like a toxic chemical factory when you first get it. Really. Also, something is up with Booq in terms of their workmanship. It's odd, b/c they are using premium materials, but it's just sloopy. Some of the fabric is not cut straight, and some of the stitching is slightly off. I noticed this on their boa backpacks as well. There is no way that I would pay the premium they are asking ($200) for some of their products. People have also complained about their zippers, but they looked average to me. The biggest downside is that whoever designed the Viper wasn't practical. The viper is a much thicker case than it needs to be. Yes, you get room to stash some extra papers and extra pockets, but this should have been done on the outside on the case or not at all. That extra area is, as virtually every other review has stated, useless. You can't fit an ac adapter in there, I'm not sure why you'd fit an ipad in there, but I guess you could. It's wasted space and added mass, so when you put your air in your bag, it's like, why does this feel as thick as a macbook pro now?

    Hard Candy Bubble sleeve: $50. The winner and the one that I kept. This is a pretty similar case to the Viper, except better. First, it's much thinner. It's 1" thick and looks quite thin. It's also lighter than the Viper b/c there's less wasted space. There is some extra dead space all around the air once it is placed in the sleeve, but I am guessing that if you drop the air, you have a little bit of extra give in the semi-rigid case before anything would contact the air. The nice thing about this bubble sleeve is the shock absorption at the four corners (see website). I felt like this will work, and it gives me peace of mind. You can try semi-banging it on a table on the corners and not worry about things. The semi-rigid material of the Viper and the Hard Candy bubble sleeve appears identical to me, and there are some raised bubbles on the sleeve to protect you when dropping it parallel to the ground. The Viper's scheme looks more professional to me. The Hard Candy bubbles looks too "cute", but that's personal opinion. Thank goodness, no toxic factory chemical smells. Downsides: The zippers, as other people have said, seem average. But I have seen one break--like the store demo's. Oddly, that store demo had one zipper on it. Then I realized it was a defect. However, the one zipper worked perfectly. So if one happens to break, you can still use one zipper and zip up the sleeve fully.

    Waterfield sleeve: $80. I got the brown leather bottom, vertically loading, with the flap and d-rings. Yes, that costs you $80. The Good: This sleeve's workmanship is outstanding. I mean, outstanding. Can I say that again? Outstanding. Their customer service is everything that it is made out to be. I did not order the brown leather initially. Changed it quickly. They caught it in time to upgrade me. Then they charged me for it, but shipped out the non-leather indium patterned bottom instead. Well, I emailed them and they shipped me out the correct one immediately. In two days. Painless.
    This case is gorgeous. It fits the air perfectly. It has a outside flap for papers, and an adapter could fit in there. It's very interesting, b/c the flap has just the right amount of expandability without just being a huge flap. Most people just sew on a pocket, but theirs is just right. It looks tight, but it does actually give a little when you actually put stuff in it. The neoprene-like material that lines the case is higher quality than neoprene. I have no idea what it is, but it reminds me of the lining of the back padding of maybe a northface backpack or some timbuk2 bags. It's high-quality, and it fits the air very well. This sleeve appears like it will last forever. The ring at the bottom of the case to put your finger in to assist you in pulling out the air is clever. Downsides: again, protection. This is a soft case, but I would venture to say that it will protect almost as well as the hard candy/viper. You can set the air down against a hard surface and I think things will be ok. I don't have the assurance as I do from a hard case, but for a cushy sleeve, this is undoubtedly the best of them out there. I'd say that the padding is 5mm? It does add some bulk to the air when inside a laptop, and it is about as thick as the viper inside my bag. So why did I not ultimately keep it? It boiled down to protection. I think that the Hard Candy will do a better job for the ways that I tend to damage things. But rest assured that I do not think that $80 for this sleeve was a ripoff. Far from it. It is also interesting that this sleeve cost more than my backpack. If they ever made a nice backpack, I think that I would go for the waterfield. I still sort of long for the waterfield, and this is the ferrari of sleeves. I just went with my head and kept the hard candy. The $30 savings is also not bad. One thing that I will ding the waterfield for is the top protection. The vertical flap I got because I thought that it would give me top protection. Not really. The flap doesn't have much neoprene on it, so if you were to drop your air on the top, there would not really be much protection at all.

    Incase perforated: added weight and thickness to the air that I wasn't sure I wanted. $60 is too much.

    Speck: added weight and thickness, added heat, and $50 is too much. Also seemed fragile to me.
  2. blairh macrumors 68040


    Dec 11, 2007
    Just my experience/opinions:

    Incase: I like some of their backpacks and they have some nice notebook cases with handles, but their iPhone cases and sleeves are insanely overpriced compared to what you are actually getting.

    Booq: One of my favorite lines. Awesome quality and worth the price.

    Hard Candy: Decent but I'd opt for something better.

    Waterfield: Again, this is just my opinion, but their stuff is fugly.

    AmazonBasics is a good choice if you are looking to not spend a lot and still get quality. When it comes to sleeves though for a MBA there are a ton of options (as threads on MR will show). I suggest everyone to look at brands other than the usual suspects (like Incase).
  3. VMMan macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    Hard Candy case is great but has some minuses

    I like the Hard Candy Bubble Case and agree with your assessment, but I should mention that the protruding circular bubbles are borderline feminine in appearance. I got used to them, but they also add unnecessary thickness to the case.

    The other major downside (to me) is that you need to unzipper 3 lengths of the case to get your MBA vs other sleeves in which you can just slide the MBA.

    My ideal case would be the Hard Candy minus the bubbles and with the design allowing only one end to have the zipper. THAT would be truly awesome.
  4. meistervu macrumors 65816

    Jul 24, 2008
    @unagimiyagi - Hard Candy Bubble case rubber bumper looks interesting. In the name of science, you should drop your MBA from different height to see if that case is good as the design seems to indicate :).

    But seriously, I wish some publication or company, like iFixit, would test these cases for their protection. Perhaps a wood model of a MBA with multiple embedded shock sensors for repeatability would be a good subject.

    Perhaps we could make some controversial claims and get MythBusters do a show on it.

    For my $23, the Be-ez la robe is my best bet for protection of my MBA.
  5. lyrrad721 macrumors regular

    Jul 28, 2010
    I also have the Hard Candy and I really like it, if you have your MBA in a college backpack like me, this is the best case. It is rugged and strong. I agree that the handle of the zippers are way too thin and might break if treated like a macho man.
  6. robvas macrumors 68030

    Mar 29, 2009
    I just bought the STM Jacket, very nice. Document pocket, plus a bigger pocket you can easily put the AC adapter in, and another small pocket. Lining is good and the padding is much thicker than a sleeve. I took the shoulder strap off but there is a very useful handle on the top.
  7. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    The only think I don't like about the Waterfield sleeve is the velcro. The sound it makes can get pretty loud :eek:

    There are so many options for the Air now it makes your head spin off :eek:
  8. VMMan macrumors 6502a

    Mar 29, 2009
    I wish Apple would design its own case for the MBA.
  9. mac jones macrumors 68040

    Apr 6, 2006
    That's a cool idea. Maybe cases for a few of their things.

    The iPad case is pretty nice
  10. marrzie macrumors regular

    Mar 9, 2011
    I really wanted a waterfield but in the end I just could not pay that much for a sleeve that utilized velcro. Velcro?? Really?? No thanks.
    I ended up going with the bookbook. Should be here soon.
  11. xeonbot macrumors newbie


    Aug 11, 2011
    Earth orbit
    Agreed. Just picked one up for my 13-inch and it's great. Nice and snug with reassuring memory foam-style padding. Does add a bit of bulk, but you don't feel worried about throwing it in a bag.

    I tried the Incase Neoprene Sleeve and didn't like it. Snug fit, but the flap left some of the computer exposed. I'd be worried about keys or something scratching it in a bag.

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