|LEVEL8 Products Macbook Air Sleeve|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Notebook | Compact PC|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Thursday, 26 May 2011|
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MacBook Air Sleeve Final Thoughts
As I mentioned at the beginning of this review, laptop cases and sleeves aren't as interesting to write and read about as processors, motherboards, video cards, and other hardware. But if you have a laptop, you need some sort of protection if you're going to carry it around. I thought that there was little any company could do to distinguish a laptop sleeve from any other, aside from making it from exotic materials like fine leathers or carbon fiber.
I was pleasantly surprised with the LEVEL8 sleeve. The inclusion of a zippered exterior pocket might seem obvious, but hardly any other sleeves do this (none that I can think of right offhand). And while I didn't perform any drop tests, the unique internal suspension system seems as though it would provide an extra level of protection. When comparing the "feel" of the MacBook Air in the LEVEL8 case with the same computer in the generic sleeve I was using previously, the LEVEL8 product felt signficantly sturdier and more secure, albeit at the expense of about 1/3" in thickness. Looking at things like the quality of the seams and stitching, it's obviously a higher-quality case than the generic sleeve.
LEVEL8 Sleeve Conclusion
A sleeve's use is different from that of a standard computer case: you carry the latter as a separate item, but sleeves usually are carried inside another piece of luggage. This is why sleeves typically lack handles, extra pockets, and other things like that: if they had them, they'd be cases and not sleeves.
Still, it's possible to innovate within these constraints, and LEVEL8 has done so with their sleeve. With high-quality construction, a unique internal padding design, and the addition of an external zippered pocket, they've increased the appeal and functionality of a standard sleeve for a price increment of about $10. I paid $39.95 for my generic sleeve and thought it overpriced at the time; in contrast, $50 for the LEVEL8 sleeve seems quite reasonable.
If you have a 13" MacBook Air, or perhaps a Dell Adamo, this is probably about the best sleeve you can get for it. If you have a regular laptop computer, based on what I've seen with this product, I'd recommend looking at some of LEVEL8's other case offerings.
The performance of this sleeve would probably be pretty good, judging from the feel. As I mentioned, I didn't conduct any drop tests! The appearance is fairly bland: a plain black nylon exterior with only a couple of seams, the zipper pocket, and the LEVEL8 badge for visual appeal. The construction quality was excellent: all seams were even, there were no loose threads, and even the zipper pulls seem larger and more robust than normal.
Functionally, this sleeve raises the bar with its integrated zipper pocket and internal suspension system. Value is a little harder to assess. Once you hit the $50 barrier, you've typically left the realm of "sleeves" and moved into "cases", which, while larger, carry more and have more features. Still, this is only $10-$15 more than the most other sleeves. If you want to go with a sleeve, this is about the best you can get.
+ Zippered outer pocket
- Expensive for a sleeve
Final Score: 8.8 out of 10.
Quality Recognition: Benchmark Reviews Silver Tachometer Award.
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