Apple products always look the best when they are naked; when they are covered by cases, they usually become slightly less attractive and a bit bulkier but also far safer from dings and scratches. Alas, I never leave my MacBooks naked. They are far too valuable (both the machine and what it holds); the better they are protected the better I feel. But as I person who appreciates fine design (what do you think drives me to the Apple universe of products in the first place?) I demand a MacBook case that not only protects but also reflects and respects the functional design ethos of both the machine it’s covering and my own picky taste.
Before I get into this review, I want to add a little sidebar about a competing product that I happen to strongly dislike: Speck cases. Every Speck case I’ve owned has failed me. And by that I mean has broken or had pieces which chipped off leaving my MacBook exposed (and breaking the part of my brain that likes things to look perfect). I’m adding this comment into this review for a bit of context because when you search for MacBook cases, the top hits always seem to be about Speck. So here, my friends, is a warning and a great Speck case alternative for your MacBook Air. Onward.
The best MacBook Air case I’ve tried to-date is made by Incipio, not Speck. And it’s called the Feather. It’s the Incipio Feather for the MacBook Air; a case/cover that strikes the perfect balance between thinness and protection. It fits good and looks good (and has lots of room for personalization) while managing to stay light on it’s feet—hence the name: Feather.
At about 1mm thin/thick the Feather is very lean. Tested on an 11″ MacBook Air, the cover seems about as thick as the outermost metal layer of the MacBook (on the outside of the black rubber line—see photo for clarification).
I’m very excited about the look of the Feather. It’s simple and straightforward, which I prefer over cases that try too hard to be noticed (with bubbles or uneven surfaces or crazy patterns and the like). There are also lots (as in 6) of colors to choose from. And they are juts solid colors (and a bit translucent—you can still make out the Apple logo behind the case).
Installing the Feather is easy. There are two pieces which each have little “grips” or “lips” on them which simply snap into place in order to meld case with computer. Once installed, the Feather is a bit difficult to get off because the grips are so small and snug; but I think that’s a very good thing, don’t you? Plus, it’s not like you’re ever going to need to remove the cover unless perhaps you’re taking the computer into the Genius Bar for a checkup or it’s time to sell it off.
The Feather is light in weight but that also means that it only offers light protection. So that means your MacBook will be impervious to scratches from other gadgets on your desk or keys or any number of objects it might come in contact with, but if you drop it from more than several inches high there’s a good chance your laptop could get damaged. So it’s more about keeping your MacBook looking good rather than offering military-grade protection (so as long as you don’t try to run it over with a tank or anything…).
In the past I have tested MacBook cases that make opening the case difficult and therefore make using your actual computer less friendly and convenient. With the Feather that is not an issue: it’s just as easy to lift the MacBook’s screen up from a closed position with the Feather on as it is with it off, if not easier thanks to that extra 1mm or so.
I did, however, experience an issue where the laptop screen wouldn’t open up as far as it should have—at first. Not wanting to break the case the first day I had it, I didn’t push past the resistance I felt when trying to open it all the way. But I should have. The next day when opening the case quickly I heard a small popping sound and my laptop screen had regained it’s full range of mobility. Evidently something had just not snapped all the way into place yet. So if you run into a similar issue, just go ahead and open her up all the way; don’t be afraid to hear that pop.
All-in-all there’s not a single bad thing I can say about Incipio’s Feather case. I really like it and highly recommend it to discerning MacBook Air owners who are looking to add a classy, colorful layer of protection to their laptop setup.
Update: just after I finished writing this review, I went into the studio to take some pictures and, as I was browsing them for the first time, I noticed a hairline crack in the case (see photo below). It’s not something I’d have ever seen with my naked eye; if it hadn’t been for this fortuitous close up I’d have never caught it. I’ve had this case on the MacBook for a little over a week, but I’m guessing it happened during install. Is it a big deal? Probably not. Does it change my overall opinion about this case? No. I still love the look and feel and as long as this little crack doesn’t spread it’ll still do it’s job. I won’t be getting rid of if at any rate. Actually, I think it’s barely worth mentioning, but now that I’ve spotted it I feel obligated to disclose.