Thule has been synonymous with ruggedness with their line of modular bicycle, ski, luggage and other multi-purpose roof racks since at least the '80s here in the U.S. As one who has used these products on various vehicles over the years, I can attest to their overall quality, along with their customer service.
When I saw this new Thule MacBook Sleeve 13In Tote Bag offered here, it was obviously worth a deeper look, and after receiving it and putting it to use, can say that it has lived up to my expectations.
* Semi-rigid, high-density molded high-density polyurethane construction
* Water-resistant zipper and outer shell, allows all-weather use
* Convenient clamshell design; offers easy access
* Elastic band holds the MacBook securely in place
* Weighs under a pound
* Could use an inside pocket; may be minor to many
* No handle; again a minor issue
This sleeve/case is not only a pleasure to use; it's attractive in its overall design and function. It holds my MacBook Pro Laptop
in place perfectly when it's being transported. I wondered about how weather-resistant it might be, so I zipped it up and gave it a quick pass in the shower prior inserting my laptop, trying to simulate street conditions. Dried off the exterior and found the interior to be dry.
The molded semi-rigid exterior appears to be well constructed, and the design is unmistakably Thule. It's the type of sleeve that is excellent for protecting the MacBook when traveling, especially on airline flights when it may have to be stowed in an overhead bin or tossed into the back seat of a care when one is in a hurry. I didn't feel like doing a drop test with my MacBook inside, but rapping on the outside offered a positive feeling about the overall construction.
The dual zipper pulls have rubberized handles, and allow for opening this case in either direction. Should note that the zipper was a bit stiff initially, but using the old-fashioned treatment of gently passing an unlit candle across the fine zipper teeth, then exercising them for a few minutes, cured that problem. From careful examination it appears that the zipper is quite similar to those used in a well-designed camera bag, where weather resistance is a priority.
Should you own a 15 inch MacBook, they also offer a Thule MacBook Sleeve 15In Tote Bag, which appears to be quite similar.
Simply put, this Thule MacBook Sleeve functions quite well as a protective case for a MacBook. The surface is easy to grip even when wet, and it has that unmistakable signature Thule appearance. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that even with the Speck Products See Thru Satin Case
on my MacBook Pro, it still fit inside the Thule sleeve. Your own experience may vary depending on the thickness of a particular shell case if you use one, but it worked with mine.
There been a lot of talk on various support sites about the potential for heat buildup in the various MacBook computers. The product tag that came with my Thule sleeve states: "The clamshell design lets you to use your device while still in the case." I raise a skeptical eyebrow with this statement, as I had asked some techs at a major Apple retailer during a visit there. They pointed me to the Apple Support site, where I found the following info:
"Mac computers have air vents that allow heated air to exit. The vents are in the back of the computer on the MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and Mac Pro computers. On an iMac, the vent is a slot on the back near the top of the computer. Make sure the vents remain unblocked to allow your computer to perform at its best."
Another section noted the following:
"Set up your portable on a stable work surface that allows for adequate air circulation under and around the computer. Do not operate your portable on a pillow or other soft material, as the material can block the airflow vents. Never place anything over the keyboard when operating the computer. Never push objects into the ventilation openings."
If you look at your own MacBook when it's in place within the Thule sleeve, you'll see that the airflow is obstructed if you operate it within the sleeve. I tried it briefly, and did notice that the fan speed did increase; a clear indication then there's a bit of internal heat buildup when using it in this fashion. I might suggest that this sleeve be used for transporting your MacBook or protecting it from the elements, and not for actual use with the notebook inside.
Also be aware that the CD/DVD drive will be blocked if one operates the MacBook Pro inside this sleeve, and should you need to charge it using one of the new style MagSafe magnetic power connectors, you'll have to reverse it, blocking the USB and other ports on the left of the computer.
If the points above regarding the potential for heat buildup sound negative regarding this Thule sleeve, they actually are not. If anything it's just basic common sense. I use mine regularly, but for transporting the MacBook, and not operating it in field situations. It has proven itself to be excellent all-weather protection for the computer, along with offering a stylishly distinctive look when on location in either the field or the office. I recommend this as a good all around sleeve for transporting the MacBook.