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A new laptop was practically the only thing not on my list to buy over the last few weeks. The one I have works fine, it just looks a little scratched thanks to being lugged round in a backpack for the last few months. At the same time, said backpack split the day before my flight home (and only survived thanks to some very atypical under-filling on my part. I've bought a new bag that will be my hand luggage for the next few trips, but it doesn't contain a specific pocket I can zip my laptop into. I looked into laptop cases but I didn't want a separate bag just for my computer, so I then started to investigate laptop sleeves.
A laptop sleeve is a bit like a mobile phone sock - one of those things that arrived years after the thing they accessorize, after we'd coped without them for ages. It's a cover that you put over your laptop to protect it from bumps and scratches as you carry it around. It's important to note that this is NOT a laptop case. It is not full of padding and it doesn't have a hard shell. If you drop your laptop while it's inside this, you'll end up with a shattered machine. Take it out for a walk in the rain, and you'll come back with a soggy machine. Essentially, the sleeve won't offer the same level of protection as a case, and you shouldn't expect it to.
So why bother with a laptop sleeve? Well, for the same reason I carry around my printed CVs in a plastic pocket or keep my credit cards in my wallet, not loose in my pocket: it offers some protection and helps keep things nice and neat, while crucially not adding any discernible bulk or weight.
This laptop sleeve is made of Neroprene which is a sort of synthetic rubber common is casings for multi-media items and also what they make wetsuits from. Fun fact: like Lycra, Neorprene is a trademark of DuPont, a company I used to teach English at. This case isn't as, well, rubbery as traditional rubber is: it's not clammy or plasticy, and is more like a slightly rough fabric. Neoprene is stretchy which makes it great for cases that you want to have a snug fit. It also makes it ideal for a variety of laptop brands which all have slightly different shapes. I couldn't find one designed specifically for my Advent computer, so thought I'd go with a generic, and this one works well.
The material is thin enough to be flexible, but padded enough to offer some protection, especially from surface damage. It's also non-slip which is great for carrying it around (carefully...indoors). I tend to carry mine through airports like a baby on my hip, and this will be easier to grip than an uncovered laptop is.
I have the 13 inch sleeve, the nearest I could get for my 12 inch laptop. It fits perfectly, and because my machine is a tiny bit smaller it's a tiny bit easier to get it on. Getting your laptop into this is like putting on a Lycra cheerleading uniform when you're still wet from the shower - either you or the fabric needs to contort in all sorts of weird ways to get it into place. It's not impossible, but it does require two hands and a few minutes of complete, undivided attention. Happily removing the laptop from the sleeve is much easier, and it swishes out in a matter of seconds.
Some laptop sleeves shut with a zip or Velcro. Being a cheaper design, this doesn't, but your laptop is still securely tucked away under the flap at the top that overlaps with the material below ensuring none of your laptop is exposed. Due to the cut it is hard for this to be scrunched up out of place so it doesn't matter than it's not sealed. The picture above shows it well. It's shaped a bit like an oversized pack of cigarettes, with the flap at the top being where you peel it apart to slip the machine in.
This is a reversible sleeve that you can have as either black, or fire engine red with a black trim. It looks like black is the outside and red the inside, just from the way it arrives in the packet and from where the logo tag is, but it's easy to turn it inside out and it quickly pings back into shape. I think I'll start off with it red-side-out simply because that makes it easier to grab in my bag. Plus it'll look ace alongside my new bubblegum pink camera case.
At the moment this is available on Amazon for £5.60 including delivery. This is at least half the price of most of the alternatives I could find, but I don't feel like I've lost out by going for the cheap option. I bought this because I like to carry my laptop in a bag with other items. That means I don't need the sleeve to have storage or pockets for anything as I can keep paper, CDs, mains adaptop etc in the main bit of my bag. I don't quite get why you need these with a laptop sleeve - if they're features you're expecting, I would imagine a proper laptop case would be a better option.
The sleeve makes the laptop look a tad less inconspicuous. My mum came home from work and asked what it was, but now she's seen one, she'll recognise them in the future. It's not a disguise for your laptop, but equally it doesn't make it any more appealling or eye catching to a thief than an uncovered laptop would be.
Before I bought this I had the slightly un-hip habit of carrying my laptop round in a big padded envelope. It worked just as well but looked a lot more naff (though worryingly Amazon sell a sleeve that's designed to look like such an envelope). Considering how robust this feels, I'm expecting it to outlast my laptop, and, because it's suitable for all brands, will fit whatever I upgrade to as long as its roughly the same size. For about a fiver it's well worth it to up my cool factor.
Trendz do a variety of laptop sleeves in different designs and sizes. If this one is anything to go by, I would recommend them, though would advise you to take heed of their size guide. While my 12 inch fits in the 13 inch cover, there's no chance a 14 inch model would.