More Reviews




Review: OtterBox Laptop Case

Febuary, 2008



OtterBox Laptop Case - $189.95



Review by Steve Douglas

Most every editor I know has a nice laptop that cost them more money than they wanted to spend. Fortunately, I have never dropped mine on a cement walkway, seen it plummet off a shoulder strap and into the ocean, or spilled a cup of coffee over it. However, I have seen others suffer through these goofs and offered them tissues to dry their tears.

Any expensive investment is worth protecting. Soft cases do a good job of cushioning a laptop from potential damage but there is certainly no guarantee that they will be able to protect your laptop from every mishap. OtterBox, a company known for making hard-shell protective cases for everything from iPods and cell phones to cigar cases and GPSs, has recently released their OtterBox 7030 Laptop Case.

This case is designed to fit most laptops up to 15 inches. Its internal dimensions come in at 14.2" wide, 11.2" deep and 1.9" thick, while its external dimensions are roughly 16.4 x14.5 x 3.4 and is made from a stiff, high impact polypropylene. The folk at Otter state that you can put your laptop in the OtterBox, close it and stand on the case without doing any damage to the laptop itself. This is not something I would actually try but, from the feel and heft of this case, I wouldn't doubt its' truth. It really is a handsome case with a deep black finish, and is impressive to look at.

It comes with several rubber internal corners, 4 large and 4 smaller which are placed in the inside corners to custom fit your laptop. For my 15" Mac Book Pro I used the 4 smaller corners. These corners are fitted onto Velcro tabs, which adhere to the bottom of the case. Once properly placed, there should be no need to remove them thus avoiding the eventual degradation that Velcro unfortunately is victim of. The entire process of fitting my MacBook Pro took about 5 minutes. These corners further protect your laptop and hold it rigidly in place along with an internal over strap and top cover pad which provides additional security.

Easy access within allows you to work on your laptop without taking it out of the bag.

Rendering it all the more valuable, the OtterBox comes equipped with two very secure closing latches and a keyable lock. The latches themselves cannot unlock accidentally if dropped or if brushed up against an object. Expect no unanticipated openings. The unique carrying strap is designed to hang from your shoulder and features a neoprene center where your shoulder would be. This center has a grip type rubber on one side to prevent slipping off your shoulder and feels springy when first put on. That took a bit to get used to. Actually the soft rubber alleviates the aching to your shoulders that sometimes occurs when carrying bags over the shoulder for extended times. Because it is a soft rubber I cannot predict how long it will last before wearing away. However, I travel quite frequently and always feel a need for a good shoulder massage after lugging heavy carry-ons around the globe. I am certain that this strap will help alleviate some of that ache.

Not only does it look good but even the specially designed strap
provides added security and protection. Photo by Randy Siegal.

Even the OtterBox's carry handle fits well into your hand. Four rubber feet on the bottom of the case help prevent marring of sensitive surfaces and automatic pressure equalization is part of the OtterBox's design. Especially when flying, the built in pressure equalization is certainly a valuable feature. As anyone sending or carrying a case on the airlines without an equalization system can attest, trying to open a secure case can be very difficult.

While I have not used it on a plane as yet, I see no problems if carried on. The laptop can remain in the case while you work on it and there is access room to the laptop's ports. Rounding out the OtterBox's valuable features is that it is waterproof. While I did not intend to test this claim, I was caught in a downpour with the OtterBox, and laptop inside, slung over my shoulder. Once safely at home, I opened up the case praying that my laptop was all right. The good news is that the insides of the case were as safe and dry as was the laptop itself.

The only real downside I have found to the OtterBox Laptop case is that there is no real room for any cables, chargers or other accessories. This would necessitate you carrying these things in another bag. However, the purpose of this case is to provide unprecedented protection for the laptop itself and the OtterBox does that quite handily.

My bottom line is that while the OtterBox, especially with a laptop ensconced within, does feel a mite heavy, it is only bears witness that this case is not something that will wear out or fail on you anytime soon. As soon as you handle it you will be cognizant that there is real quality here making it well worth the investment to protect that even larger investment, your own laptop. It's not cheap but then again, real quality rarely is.

Steve Douglas is a certified Apple Pro for Final Cut Pro 6 and underwater videographer. A winner of the 1999 Pacific Coast Underwater Film Competition, 2003 IVIE competition, 2004 Los Angeles Underwater Photographic competition, and the prestigious 2005 International Beneath the Sea Film Competition, where he also won the Stan Waterman Award for Excellence in Underwater Videography and 'Diver of the Year', Steve was a safety diver on the feature film "The Deep Blue Sea", contributed footage to the Seaworld Park's Atlantis production, the History channel's MegaDisaster show and other networks. Steve is one of the founding organizers of the San Diego UnderSea Film Exhibition and leads both underwater filming expeditions and African safaris with upcoming excursions to Indonesia and the Coco Islands, Costa Rica in 2008, Kenyan safari in Africa and the Red Sea for 2009, and Truk Lagoon in Micronesia for 2010. Feel free to contact him if you are interested in joining Steve on any of these exciting trips.


copyright © Steve Douglas 2008

This article first appeared on and is reprinted here with permission.
All screen captures and textual references are the property and trademark of their creators/owners/publishers.

copyright © Michael Horton 2000-2010 All rights reserved