Shortly after the original MacBook Air was released, companies rushed to release manila envelope-styled cases like the one Steve Jobs had used to unveil the wafer-thin computer, and as much as that first computer struck us as not-quite-there, we thought the envelope case idea was cute. Marware later brought the beautiful and similarly-inspired Eco-Envi envelope case to the iPad, and now that the new 11” and 13” MacBook Airs are out—and popular—companies are thankfully taking another stab at the concept. We say “thankfully” because we’re now Air users and have been itching to see cool cases like this for the 11” model. United SGP has shipped one of the first ones we’ve seen in its just-announced MacBook Air 11” Leather Pouch Gariz Edition Series ($110).
Overall, the Leather Pouch is nice. It’s made from genuine leather, sueded on the inside and smooth on the outside, gripping the 11” MacBook Air tightly enough that the use of body-protecting film makes the case a modest challenge to close—something that would likely change as the leather is used a little more. It feels every bit like the hand-crafted, high-quality carrying accessory SGP claims it to be, and smells like real leather rather than factory chemicals, a virtue that we no longer take for granted these days. The lines are clean and sleek, like the MacBook Air’s, drawing less attention to the machine than envelope-style Air cases did before.
Whether you like the look or not will depend on whether you’re looking for something manila-styled, or more traditional envelope-styled like Marware’s designs, or a hybrid of business envelope and leather pouch like this. But the only way you’ll have an issue with the feel is if you need a coarser leather with anti-slip properties. SGP’s smooth leather finish doesn’t slide out of dry hands, but between the Air’s small size and this case’s lack of a handle, armstrap, or other carrying option, you can expect to keep it under an arm or in your palm most of the time.
There’s one less than thrilling component of this design. United SGP apparently teamed up with a company called Gariz for the Leather Pouch, and they decided to mark both companies’ logos on the front and back of the case. The latter markings aren’t a huge problem because they’re embossed and graphical, but the front includes three logos and a bunch of words that have been laser-etched onto the leather’s surface. Unfortunately, the text is choppy Engrish similar to what has appeared on some of SGP’s other products: “Gariz is the Design Brand of product pursues such as Reflecting life style, User friend, Harmony and Difference .” (Capitalization, spelling, and punctuation theirs.) Unlike Asia, where even sloppy English text might add to the fashion appeal of a product, any text—especially poorly written text—almost always detracts from a design. SGP would be better off minimizing its logos and dropping the words altogether, not just on this product but on all of them.
It’s good, then, that the front markings are hidden under the flap, which closes using two metal snaps. They and the rear logo is all you’ll generally see besides the nice leather SGP has chosen. You can make up your own mind as to whether $110 is the right price for a case like this; our feeling is that it’s a little too pricey given the materials and design, but it’s subject to change. At a lower price, and with fewer words on the face, it could possibly be worth putting in the mail to your home address.