The Budget Mac

Brenthaven ProStyle MacBook Air Sleeve a Snug Fit

- 2011.11.08 - Tip Jar

I've recently acquired an 11" MacBook Air (my perfect Mac!), and I've started hunting for the perfect sleeve for it. I've been a fan of Waterfield Designs and Booq cases for years, but I wanted to take a fresh look at the available offerings for my new, beautiful Air, and Brenthaven kindly offered to provide a ProStyle sleeve for review.

Brenthaven ProStyle sleeve
Brenthaven ProStyle sleeve.

Brenthaven is well-known to be a premium case-maker for Macs, and while they've always been on my radar, this is my first experience using one of their products. They sent me the ProStyle MacBook Sleeve for the 11" Air in Elderberry, which is a color that isn't advertised on their website (colors currently on their site are black/copper and charcoal/misted yellow). It's perfectly lovely, but odd that it's not shown on the website. My best guess is it's overstock of a previous model.

The Good

The sleeve is water-resistant, as advertised, and very sturdy. Every fastener, zipper, and stitch appears to be of the highest quality, and the handle is very securely attached. I would feel very comfortable carrying my Air around in the suggested grip. The faux-fur liner is extremely soft and appears to not be too static-inducing; no worries about scratches.

The sleeve, with its high-density foam, is thick enough that I think it would provide reasonable protection from a drop, and it would definitely keep it from getting gouged by various detritus in a bag. Of course, the trade-off is that it offsets one of the primary selling points of the MacBook Air, it's unworldly thinness. The sleeve more than doubles the thickness of the laptop.

The Annoying

The sleeve is very, very snug. I can't speak to whether it's just mine, or every one they turn out, but I can only insert the Air in one direction, and even then, it's a bit of a struggle. I initially worried a bit about the metal zipper bases scratching the sides as the laptop slides in, but that doesn't appear to be a problem if you only insert it thin-end first. In hinge-end-first orientation, I have been unsuccessful in cramming the laptop in at all - it's that snug of a fit.

To that end, I was disappointed to find that the featured "dedicated iPhone pocket" is actually too snug to fit an iPhone when the Air is also in the sleeve. I wasn't able to fit an iPhone 3GS (with or without a case) or even a bare, very slim iPod touch 4G in the pocket. They fit fine as long as the laptop isn't in the sleeve, but that doesn't strike me as particularly useful. I can see using it to hold a couple flash drives or Apple's USB-to-Ethernet adapter if you need to carry that around. There is definitely no room for a power adapter or the suggested iPhone, at least on the unit I tested.

The Verdict

Brenthaven's commitment to environmental friendliness and delivering high-end products makes them a very attractive manufacturer. I wouldn't rule out trying more of their products in the future. However, with the tightness and dubious usefulness of the iPhone pocket with my older iPhone and iPod touch, this particular product is not for me. That said, if you're looking for a fairly rugged, extremely well-made padded sleeve and are neutral about the extra pocket, this may be a winner for you. LEM

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