Laptops are most certainly wonderful tools, and they help the user from having to be confined to a desktop workstation. With a laptop you can choose the place and time to do your computing, and it empowers many people to move their location as they see fit.
But with this ability to move comes a small problem – how do you protect your gear while traveling. The laptop industry has created a side industry, and that is the laptop case. In the beginning there was basically a repurposed case that was used for your computing rig. Now, however, there are many types of protective gear designed to help you safely ride out the bumps in life as you go about your business.
In this article we will take a look at the different types of laptop cases. You just might find a case style that fits your needs, maybe even one that you were not aware of before now.
Neoprene cases are popular with a lot of laptop users because they offer protection with very minimal bulk. In fact, this type of case is often referred to as a “sleeve” due to its small size. As shown by the CaseLogic unit above, the case is designed to fit somewhat snugly around the unit, and the availability of extra pockets will vary by brand. The interior protection also varies, from a type of faux fur to soft cushion lining materials.
If you like traveling light, then this might be a good choice for your needs. Some people like to use this case in conjunction with another case for more rigorous traveling protection, and then use only the sleeve when at their destination. A neoprene case with an interior lining offers a lot of scratch and dent protection (especially for those who have a nice aluminum unibody machine), but it is limited in overall protection. In other words, it might be great for carrying a machine around with you, but you would not want to check it on a flight.
The hard shell case can be compared to a turtle’s shell in that it becomes part of the computer itself. Usually designed to be a molded fit, the case snaps in place over the computer’s exterior, held in place by its own shape. These cases are available in a wide variety of colors, so there is something sure to please the user.
The thing I like about this case style is that it offers protection for the machine without the need to remove it from a case (and replacing it later when finished). This means if an accident happens in the middle of work (you know it happens), the unit is still going to be protected. The only bad part about this type of case is that it adds bulk to the machine at all times. Sure, the hard shells are usually quite thin, but if you just love the feel of that new thin laptop it could be a bit of a put off to add bulk to its sleekness.
If you are looking for protection at the expense of both bulk and price, then you should consider a hard shell external case. Units such as the OtterBox Laptop Case pictured above can be found to protect your equipment from extremes in the environment. The construction will vary from aluminum to resilient plastic (think football helmet). Many of these types of cases offer waterproof protection, and can even protect your gear from a dead four foot fall.
While this type of case is probably overkill for the typical business power lunch, it really shines when going on an extended trip. With one of these you could even go on safari and still have great protection for your computer. In fact, this is one case that you could check and (mostly) not worry about damage from over zealous baggage handlers.
The venerable backpack has grown from carrying books and hiking gear to being a specially designed unit for your laptop and other gear. As shown by the Targus Groove Notebook Backpack above, a backpack laptop case can carry your computer, its accessories, other books, and even a refreshing snack. The straps on a backpack case makes it very convenient, and most of the time you will find them slung over one shoulder as they are being carried to the next destination.
The flexibility of the backpack laptop case is great for a lot of uses, but you may find that it tends to get bulky with continued use. No fault of the backpack design, it is easy to accumulate gear that you don’t want to part with when carrying the case. While this might be a problem for some, I find it to be extremely handy.
The messenger bag may have become more popular recently thanks to Jack Bauer, but it does work as a great laptop carrying case. Units such as the Targus Urban Messenger Laptop Bag pictured above offer a lot of protection for a laptop while remaining a very conveniently carried design.
Usually coupled with a shoulder strap, the messenger bag puts your gear at your side and within easy reach. And if Jack can save the world a few times with a messenger bag at his side, then the design must be pretty good.
Okay, so maybe this is not your standard laptop case, but since I am writing this article and it is my overall favorite case to use, I think it should be mentioned. Also, I have to believe that others would find it to be equally handy.
Netbooks are fairly new to the laptop scene, and they have quickly grown in popularity due to their small size and economical price. A complete line of cases have come along to support these diminutive machines, and while they vary in implementation, there is a common theme – small, padded cases that wrap the netbook without adding a lot of extra bulk.
As shown with the popular Swissgear Netbook Case above, these cases often add extra pockets for your other gear, making them handy for the road warrior. Many of the designs feature an integrated carrying handle and optional strap, which works well given the light weight of the computers themselves. If you have a favorite netbook, you might find this case to be a very handy way of getting from point A to point B while offering protection.
The right case will vary by person, application, and machine type. In fact, some users may find that a single case does not fit all of their needs. The important thing is to find a case that fits your individual needs and budget. Just remember that the worse time to realize that you need a laptop case is after an accident.
You can find this bag at many military surplus stores on the web, and it is available in black and natural. The black case fits in perfectly fine with both business meetings and personal use, and it is economical to purchase. An inner storage area holds a 13” macbook pro perfectly, with plenty of room for chargers, backup drives, and other necessary gear.
However, as well as I like the design and plenty of storage pockets, I know some people will find the Engineers Bag to be a bad fit for their needs. Also, if you have a 17” machine, then you will find this case will not work for your needs.