HOME | Notebooks | SLATES | Handhelds | Definitions & Specs | Ruggedness Testing | Industry leaders | About us
Otterbox 7000 Series Laptop Case

Perhaps the ultimate protection for your notebook computer
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

Here at Pen Computing Magazine and RuggedPCReview.com we get lots of gear to review all the time. Recently I answered an inquiry as to whether a product had arrived this way:

"It arrived. Truth be told, I am floored. The thing is AMAZING! I cannot think of a single reason why anyone who needs to have protection for his or her notebook does not get one. Totally brilliant concept and execution."

What did I rave about? That would be the latest Otterbox Laptop Case. Yes, it's just a case, but likely the best we've ever seen. This is not just an el-cheapo bag to lug your computer around in, it's a precision-designed, engineered and manufactured case that will protect your notebook computer no matter what.

With laptops becoming ever more important in our lives, leaving them unprotected is a risk no one should engage in. There's too much important data on our machines, too much of our lives, and too much money invested. It makes no sense at all to spend a couple of thousand dollars on an inherently fragile notebook and then risk getting it broken, or even scratched and dented. I am not sure why notebook manufacturers continue to produce products that can't survive even a small drop and whose gorgeous, shiny surfaces get scratched almost by looking at them. In fact, even some semi-rugged and rugged notebooks have the same problem. Their good looks come at the expense at being prone to denting and scratching.

So what Otterbox has done is create a case that essentially eliminates any danger of your precious notebook ever getting damaged. Not as long as it's inside this case. This case is so tough, you can stand on it and even jump on it. No problem.

The whole thing looks almost like a computer itself. It is a clamshell made of thick, very thick, black plastic. Inside it is lined with velcro material. That's because the case comes with three different sets of bumpers that attach to the velcro lining so your notebook fits snuggly. And just to make extra-sure, there's a velcro strap that ties it down. Why three sets of bumpers? Well, so that the case can accommodate virtually every laptop on the market. The standard bumpers fit most. A second set allows machines with larger footprints. An a number of extra L-shape bumpers can provide additional support.

What you do is select the right set of bumpers for your laptop, then simply velcro them in. All done. The OtterBox case comes in two sizes. One, the 7030 model, that fits laptops with screens up to roughly 15 inches diagonal, and a second, the 7040 model, that will fit behemoths with screens up to 17 inches diagonally. Our case was a 7030 model and it swallowed a Toshiba M200 with lots of room to spare. A review Toshiba Tecra M7 with a 14.1-inch "wide" screen fit comfortably, though we needed to use the smaller bumpers (see picture below). Our older long-term Toshiba Tecra M4 with a standard-format 14.1-inch display was a bit of a challenge due to its curvy backside. We couldn't place all four bumpers at the corners, but found an arrangement with two corner and two side bumpers that held the big Tecra firmly in place.

What makes this case even more amazing is that it's also waterproof. Yes, it has a continuous O-ring seal all around the case. You can see that, too, in the picture to the left. Otterbox doesn't rate the case as to its ingress protection, but it looks like it's substantial. We're of a mind to test that in a swimming pool. Those of you who spotted the lock in front of the case may wonder how Otterbox managed to seal that. Well, the lock is mounted outside the O-ring seal, so it doesn't matter if some water gets in. Well, but will it come back out? Of course. Otterbox thought of everything. There are drainage holes at the bottom.

What if you want to use the notebook in the case but you need to plug it into an electric outlet? Once again, no problem. There is a 3 x 0.625 inch opening in the back. It's sealed with an attached rubber plug when you don't use it. Those OtterBox engineers thought of everything.

Is there a price to pay for all this protection? Not much. The US$169.95 is a downright steal for something this good. And with a footprint of 14.2 x 11.2 inches and being just under two inches thick, the case is amazingly compact. It does add some weight, a good six pounds. Otterbox softens that issue by providing both a very comfortable handle and an equally comfortable shoulder strap. And yes, even the straps are designed and executed so well that almost nothing else compares. How do they do it all?

One thing you won't find in an OtterBox case, and that is lots of compartments and nooks and crannies to stow away stuff. None, in fact. This is a case to protect your laptop computer, not a closet organizer or fancy attache case. And it is the best there is.

Check it out at Otterbox.