Last year, and basically out of nowhere, an Australian design company called Gecko Gear materialized with a collection of new iPod accessories, and though most of them were “me too” in concept, it was obvious that the company was at least trying to offer products that were slightly distinctive from existing offerings. Its “glove” silicone cases, for interest, were overpriced and lacking key protective features but offered interesting ribbing, and then there was the Hi-Fi Traveller, a nicely thought out iPod Hi-Fi case that outdid a similar offering from Griffin Technology.
Now Gecko has released a series of three MacBook cases called “sleeves” – two ballistic nylon cases called Gecko pro-sleeves ($50, above) and two neoprene cases called Gecko neo-sleeves ($30, not shown). The neo-sleeves are unremarkable black designs that do nothing more than open via zipper on one side and hold a 13”, 15”, or 17” MacBook, with a pen-sized pocket on one edge, but the similarly black pro-sleeve design is more interesting. Details can be found by clicking on the title or Comments links above.
The pro-sleeve is a fusion of three different cases we’ve seen. It’s thin in profile like the Gecko neo-sleeve, but its single zipper opens fully around the 13” MacBook or 15” MacBook Pro – no $17 version’s available. The body feels nearly as hard as an Axio case, but is made from reinforced ballistic nylon, save for a soft fabric interior and – yes – a full-length (but shallow) interior mesh pocket inside, capable of just barely stowing the Pro’s power supply. Then there are the diagonal exterior grips, which look similar to the ones found in Gecko’s iPod glove cases. Though arguably the most minimalist of the MacBook cases we’ve seen, the pro-sleeve manages to look good, feel substantially protective – not drop-proof – and also include a little extra carrying compartment. All good stuff.
What Gecko hasn’t done is permit full access to the MacBook Pro ports: the case interior is recessed enough that the right ports and DVD drive are largely obscured, though the left ports (critically, including power and USB) are mostly exposed, if angling downwards such that the ExpressCard slot isn’t ideally situated. Preserving this access appears to be the biggest challenge for MacBook case developers, and some appear to operate on the assumption that you’ll just pull the MacBook out when necessary; if that’s your usage model, this is a totally acceptable case.
One thing we’re really liking about Gecko’s products, across the board, is that they consistently are thinking of the thinness of Apple’s products and trying to find ways to preserve that while adding protection. In that regard, the pro-sleeves achieve on a much higher level than the company’s rubber iPod cases, which unnecessarily compromise protection without giving buyers a commensurate break on pricing. We’re hoping to see more designs from the company like this one, hopefully with even more thoughtful attention to port access issues.