Price: $30 (plus shipping and handling)
Requirements: iBook or PowerBook
In 1989, I was at a movie theatre in Manhattan with a woman I was dating. Just before the show was about to start, actors Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis walked in—they were married at the time. Like everyone else, we turned to gawk at the celebrities as they walked down the aisle looking for seats. I said, “Yeah, he hasn’t made a good movie since The Fly.”
The gentlemen sitting next to me, a stranger, remarked in response, with the tone only native New Yorkers can articulate properly, “You know, and how many good movies have you made?”
Since then, even though I’ve managed to become a professional writer—as Samuel Johnson once said, “nobody but a blockhead ever wrote for any reason but the money”—I’ve tried to remember how much easier it is to criticize than to create.
This is all a roundabout means of explaining that I bought the RadTech NeoCase despite the marketing campaign for it. The name “NeoCase,” the slogan “It’s the one,” and the graphic of a man clutching the product while falling over backward are obviously meant to evoke Keanu Reeves caught in “bullet-time” cinematography in The Matrix. Call me a curmudgeon, but I’m just irritated by this attempt to suggest that the product will suddenly make any of us similar to the fictitious “Mr. Anderson”—“my name is Neo.”
Don’t get me wrong. RadTech is a terrific company. I’ve bought a half-dozen of their products, ranging from their Glide Kit for PowerBook hinges to their Ice Cream polish for iPods, both of which, incidentally, I recommend with enthusiasm. The NeoCase actually is quite good. For a soft case, used inside a briefcase, I recommend it with enthusiasm, too.
It’s just that the advertising is silly. Leave that aside, and you have a terrific product at a reasonable price.
The NeoCase belongs to the category of neoprene laptop cases. I’m guessing most consumers must make a decision at the outset whether they want a hard or semi-hard carrying case or a soft carrying case. There probably isn’t that much overlap between the categories of products. In a lawyer’s parlance, they are not “fungible.” That is, one cannot be exchanged for the other. If you want more protection and are more likely to bang up against hard surfaces, you probably want the extra protection offered by a hard or semi-hard carrying case, such as the booq Vyper I previously reviewed. But in all likelihood, if you dropped your laptop from a tabletop or subjected it to some other severe shock, a simple sleeve isn’t likely to prevent a ruined screen or worse however firm its few millimeters might be. If you are so risk-averse you want to guard against such an accident, you’ll want something such as the RadTech MacTruck, which seems indestructible at least in the “real world.”
Otherwise, the NeoCase is a fine choice. It is a black neoprene sleeve with no extraneous aesthetic features other than its name in white letters adorning a corner. It allows operation inside the case, and, indeed, is best suited to such deployment. There are four diagonal straps across the corners to hold it onto the laptop. It is easier to leave it on than take it off each time you open up the machine.
The only oddity of the Neocase, as compared to other designs, is the carrying handle. It retracts. If you don’t want to use it, the symmetrical double strap (one part behind the screen, the other part beneath the keyboard) tucks away neatly without much of a bulge. If you want to use it, it comes out easily enough. The zipper then doesn’t close all the way, because the handle obstructs it.
There is a flap with a hook-and-loop closure that fits inside the double strap, though, to protect that area. Actually, the same flap secures the center of the sleeve regardless of whether the straps are in use. It’s just that the flap goes either directly over the center of the sleeve (with the handle retracted) or threads through the straps (with the handle in use). The photographs on the manufacturer Web site show its operation clearly, if the foregoing description isn’t sufficient.
RadTech also states the neoprene is siliconized for water repellency. The zipper design, with two pulls, has the increasingly common flange to prevent the zipper from contacting the laptop directly.
In conclusion, the RadTech NeoCase does the job. I just doubt it’d enable any consumer to stand up to Agent Smith.