The WaterField Designs MacBook Air Sleeve

As soon as Steve Jobs announced the 11-inch MacBook Air, I knew that they would represent the future of blind note-taking devices, so I bought one immediately. Following on this thought, I knew I would need to find a case. The Apple store didn’t even have any. Some quick searching turned up the first company to manufacture one: WaterField Designs.

The site has a friendly feel with lots of positive testimonials, so I felt good about this. I selected my make and model. I then had a bit of a difficult question. It asks you to select your orientation – horizontal or vertical. I chose the vertical orientation because it can go in other bags easier and I figured you never know. I kept trying to picture it in my mind, since I can’t see the pictures. I didn’t get it quite right, but interestingly I still feel like I made the right purchase. Most laptop cases have a horizontal orientation. The laptop sits in the case in the way you would use it. This makes the case’s width greater than its length. In vertical orientation, the laptop sits in the case on its side. This makes its height greater than its width. Originally, I really pictured and wanted a standard horizontal orientation. At first when it arrived, I felt discouraged that I picked the wrong one. When I actually put it on and wore it around, however, I realized that I may have unintentionally made the right choice. With something as light as the MacBook Air at only 2.3 pounds, a sleeker profile makes it sit nicely against the hip and leg, instead of sticking out and flopping around. I don’t know if a horizontally oriented case would actually cause this, maybe not, but either way I like it. It does also have another unintended advantage: you can charge it while it sits in the case. Actually, sleeve describes it better than a case, since the MacBook just slides into it. The inside feels like a cushion, keeping your beloved MacBook Air nice and protected. It also has a little pocket on the back for flat things, but no accessories. We’ll get back to that.

After I made my choice, I had to pick the finish. They offer leather or lead indium. As a vegetarian, I figure the less leather the better, so I picked lead indium, hoping it didn’t actually contain lead, but pretty much knowing how it would feel. I got that exactly right. It feels like a classy rough vinyl type of material. Very nice.

Next, I had to choose whether or not I wanted to add a flap. At this point the picture really started to form in my head. I thought of the crappy standard sleeve that came with my netbook. I imagined it jazzed up. Now I saw how the flap would come into play. If you don’t get one, you just get the sleeve, nothing else. I definitely wanted that, and again I guessed right. You definitely want the flap if you plan to carry this thing anywhere outside of another bag. Its size and material gives it a good weight, and it has a secure velcro snap. The inner part has a soft material as well to keep things nice and safe. Not seeing the pictures felt a little frustrating, but with no recourse I had to continue forward with no other way to go, just like Mr. Bilbo.

Now things got interesting, as it asked if I wanted a strap. Now I saw that they have a whole system to assemble your perfect case. I definitely wanted that, since I rightly figured that the sleeve didn’t have a handle. They offer two types of straps: a regular strap for $12, and a suspension strap for $22. I didn’t know the difference, but figured in for a penny in for a pound, so got the suspension strap. I guess the normal strap just has a single strap, but the suspension strap has the full deal. I didn’t realize luggage had so much to it. I love the strap – light and well-padded. I hardly feel anything when wearing it, like a friendly feather on my shoulder.

So far, I wondered where I’d put my chargers, random cables, and of course a disc of Taza Chocolate for emergencies. I figured since they had already gone this far, that they would have something. Indeed, the next step asked if I wanted a Piggyback Pouch! I love this thing. Just to go that extra mile, they offer it in a regular vinyl feel for $25, and with leather trim for $27. Again, I went with the standard $25 bag. It has two hooks on it, and they hook onto the same loops to which the straps connect. The bag has the same width as the sleeve. It hangs down and actually starts about a quarter way down the sleeve, and ends about an eighth of the way from the bottom. I just made rough estimates with my fingers, but hopefully you get the picture. If you don’t, just go to their site and see for yourself, assuming you can. The Piggyback Pouch has a zipper opening under a little flap. Inside, it has a large pocket with a smaller soft felt-like pocket with a seam along the top connecting the two. Beautiful.

That completed my selection process. The entire case cost $62.00… or so I thought. They have had so much going on – probably from nerds like me ordering MacBook Air cases – that they had some problems with their web site, and the case actually cost $99.00. They made this clear to me in an email, and of course I opted to continue. Nothing i could do but say a quick prayer to Goddess and hope for the best.

Fortunately, everything met or exceeded my expectations. Every piece has fine workmanship. You won’t find anything cheap on this bag. It won’t fall apart in the rain or anything like that. It keeps my beloved safe and secure. I don’t worry about that anymore. They really have everything well thought out. All the pieces fit together to make a simple and sophisticated package. The order arrived very quickly as well. I would definitely recommend dealing with WaterField Designs for your case needs. They have tons of cases, not just those for the MacBook Air. They just did it first, and I needed one now. I had some problems just because I couldn’t see the pictures, but I figured things out well enough, and I hope my descriptions help others. As I said with my netbook, having a good case completes the set up. Now I have a fully functional note-taker which functions beyond my wildest dreams, and a smart piece of luggage to keep it in. Glorious!