Fresh back from my brief cruise to Mexico, I was glad to discover that there wasn’t a massive pile of new iPod gear waiting around, but there was a huge box here from Saunders: the RhinoSkin MacBook Hardcase ($60), in white. Currently only available in this color – Black’s coming – and in a size for the 13” plastic-bodied MacBook – Pro ones are coming, too – the RhinoSkin case has a couple of cool innovations that are worth sharing with those of you who are still looking for hard plastic notebook computer protection.
Click on the title above for more photos and details.
Though we’ve seen other plastic MacBook cases already, Saunders’ design has one unique advantage – modularity. Instead of just including a single hard shell for the MacBook, the Hardcase includes two plastic boxes: one holds the computer, the other its power supply (or comparably-sized items), and they can be snapped together for easy carrying. A locking button lets you detach the smaller box easily if you want it off. Including the power supply tote was a nice thought – and pretty well executed – given that Speck, Axio and other MacBook case makers haven’t always thought about that part of the picture.
Saunders has also designed a way to provide part-time port access: fold-open panels that can be shut when either your left-side ports or the DVD drive aren’t in use. Ventilation holes are on a rubber and plastic foot-elevated bottom surface, and gray plastic snaps hold the case closed: they’re not super impressive, and will pop (safely) off if you put something too large inside of either included box, but they work if you haven’t thickened your MacBook or incorrectly stowed your power supply. Similarly, foam lining on the inside of the small box is easy to tear if your wall adapter’s blades rub against it in the wrong way, a visual and design blemish. A hole for the MacBook’s IR sensor on the front is properly centered, but at some distance from the actual sensor, as is the rest of the case’s edging; a transparent plastic shield lets you see the Apple logo through the top of the case.
Another nice idea: two included, detachable straps that slide into place on the case’s back and pop out when not in use. You can wear the hardcase backpack-style, or carry it on a single shoulder if you prefer. You may find yourself preferring the twin strap system: with the added weight of the case and power supply, the otherwise impressively slim MacBook becomes heavy, and having the extra strap there is nice.
At $60, the RhinoSkin MacBook Hardcase isn’t cheap, and it isn’t quite as sexy as some of the other cases we’ve seen, but it offers a nice combination of functionality and protectivity, foam resilience aside. Hard plastic seems to be a popular material for MacBook cases; given its experience with metal iPod cases, we’re wondering whether Saunders (or anyone else) will try to come up with an aluminum MacBook Pro case as cool as the computer itself, or whether Zero Halliburton-style alternatives are all we’ll be seeing…