Protecting your laptops

I thought this would be an interesting page to discuss ways to protect your laptop as there is a multitude of options, yet some more interesting then others, some more standard than others, etc and more protective. Ideally, a laptop case should:

  • Be easy to carry the computer around (and other bits if needed)
  • Allow easy access to the computer and accessories
  • Look discreet
  • Lightweight.

The aim is to look at different style, you’d be very surprised what there is.

Standard laptop bag:

Most look like these, boring, uninspiring, but protective, allows you to carry your computer and a lot of paper, front pockets are there for various items you have to carry. These in my experience, do not allow you to carry a lot, apart from another laptop if the file compartment is big enough, but they allow you to organise your life by having pockets in the lid to put pens, batteries and other accessories. They often stick to your side like a briefcase, come in all sorts of sizes and shapes and usually soft. The cases take a beating and protect your laptop doing it, but add a shoulder strap and it becomes heavy on one side, altering your balance and someone can still try to nick your prized possession when you aren’t looking. Oh and take it from me, as a cyclist, don’t try cycling with one, unless it clips to a luggage rack.

Laptop backpack:

Generic or styled by a manufacturer, these allow you to carry your laptop on your back, great for tube travelling and those tight spaces you may batter everyone with, less likely to slip of your shoulder, great for bikes and great for moving around. They carry a variety of laptops unless you have a 20″ monster (like yours truly has) or a oddly shaped laptop. The laptop part is often padded to protect the laptop from bumps, scrapes and minor falls. The quality varies and its easy to get carried away with how much you CAN carry. Hint, a lot! Plus, you can still batter people as you swing around and knock them flying in a tight space, while a thief tries to nick your prized possession.

Always on case:

Usually soft shelled, these cases can be made for a specific model or a generic case. Belkin, Brenthaven and Infocase are a few manufactures that make them. Their aim is simple, you put the computer in the case, you turn it on in the case and voila, you don’t need to remove the computer from the case – ever! The fixings differ from manufacturer, the size varies – just because it says it fits an 11 inch laptop, doesn’t mean to say it will, check the case dimensions as well, as my EliteBook 2170p has a Belkin 11 inch case and fits perfectly. Portability goes up, its very protective and allows you to bring just enough to the LAN party (charger, cord and mouse). If you need to swipe your laptop on a train because someone didn’t tell you that the train is now no longer calling at your favourite station, its simply zip it up before you go, go. Some limitations, they can cause the computer to overheat, so you must have the case open ALL the time, the computer must generate as little heat as possible and the fans may clog up picking up the dust. Some have suction cups that hold the case to the screen, which doesn’t stick to every surface without a hell of a lot of persuasion.

Hard cases:

These can be either specific to a computer or general, Pelican and other manufactures make them, some can be brought as a generic foam case and then customised to fit a specific brand of computer. These are generally suited for very expensive computers as trust me, four grand hitting a tiled or even concrete floor is enough to send anyone crazy. They are very durable and protect that precious MacBook Pro or very expensive gaming laptop from every surface you can drop it on a railway station, except maybe the running rail the trains sit on. They tend to be heavy and bulky, so getting the platform staff to retrieve it from the edge of the platform at track level without someone with a competent track pass would be rather slim. 

Computer specific cases:

Some companies, such as UAG make cases for a specific computer, these are designed to fit onto the computer with the exact measurements and are very protective. The problem can be cost and their limited application, further more, they don’t protect everything and against everything. So, you still need to cover your lovely expensive laptop should the weather turn nasty on you, you don’t want a drop of water in that USB port shorting it out, do you?

Skins:

Skins come in 2 different types, they are either sticker based, still a naked laptop but with a surface to change the look or a plastic cover which is for a very popular model of computer. A lot of Chinese sellers on eBay and Amazon make plastic cases that are like skins that clip on, they are cheap and easy to find and protect your laptop from the majority of bumps and scrapes, but the quality can be rather inferior and they don’t protect everything, especially water and dust resistance, so you still need a bag to put it in. Further more, vinyl skins are just scratch resistant if that. They add a touch of style that you can customise and that’s it. Various areas get the treatment, but only a limited amount of areas.

Other products:

If you got a computer that is used by businesses, in some cases, you may have a specific case that does a lot more than protect your laptop, some companies, such as Infocase make a limited selection of cases for a limited amount of laptops. The product range is known as Fieldmate. You may ask “what do these cases offer than no other cases offer?” Simple, flexibility that will surprise you. A lot of cases they make have X-straps on the bottom, doesn’t sound like much, but when you have a laptop which is also a tablet, the X-strap is VERY useful, especially waking around on the tube, between trains, on the street, getting sat nav guidance, etc. They protect the computer really well and have other things they can do. Ever seen a user harness? Its basically a harness that goes around the users back, clips on with 4 d-rings and allows the user to use a computer without a table. Yes, they exist, great for commuter trains. The only downside, they are bulky and they are hard to come by.