Jetplane Review: Brentaven Metrolite II for Macbooks

Posted on May 26, 2008 in Featured, Reviews

(If you enjoyed this review, you can support the site by buying your Metrolite II via my Amazon affiliate link.)

Update – November 10th 2008:

I’ve had a few emails as to whether this case would fit the new aluminum MacBooks as well. Short answer: Definitely. The new MacBook is smaller than the old one and the slightly wider new MacBook Pro should fit with a tiny bit of a squeeze as well.

Full Review

I was able to get hold of a Brenthaven Metrolite II case to take a look at, so this is a review after using it for a few days. Bear in mind I take my Macbook to university or my company Macbook to work on my bike nearly every day, so that’s the usage scenario I’m working with.

First look
This case is mainly designed to carry a Macbook or Macbook Pro around and also has a number of additional compartments for your accessories and other stuff.

Macbook Protection
To keep your Macbook safe, its main feature is an internal protection shell that gives the whole case an extremely sturdy feel. Even when it’s empty, you can’t really “squash” it at all, it’s rock solid.

The shell is padded on the inside and has additional padding at the sides that is arched inwards in a curved shape to prevent the smaller 13″ Macbook from sliding around. If you put a 15″ in there, the sides are pushed “straight” to make room for it.
The inner shell can also be removed to gain some extra space for times when you’re not taking your Mac with you.

A nice touch is the thick velour-covered padding a the top and extra internal padding at the bottom of the case. Those two areas are fairly important: At lot of Macbooks you look at have hairline cracks around those areas, because lots of cases aren’t reinforced there.

On their website they have videos of the bag being thrown around with a Macbook inside. Whilst I didn’t quite go that far for this review (anyone care to lend me their Macbook?) , I must say I wasn’t a bit worried about my Macbook getting jolted around the lecture hall whilst in this bag.

Build Quality
Apart from all the padding, the general build quality of this bag is probably the best I’ve ever seen.Previously I’ve used Eastpak, Bree and Samsonite bags, but this feels more well put together than any of those. Even the zippers and strap clips have a chunky, solid feel to them. My bags normally tend to come apart at the strap connectors because I’ve always got far to much weight in them and often cycle around town with the bag dangling off my shoulder. No worries about that happening here though:

Space
In the main storage area you can easily fit a writing block or a college reader as well as your Macbook. But apart from there, you can also store a lot of things in the deceptively small-looking front pockets:
The pocket at the top has a dedicated pouch for your iPod or phone as well as enough room for a notepad, some pens and other bits and pieces. It also includes a headphone cable passthrough to the much larger hidden pocket behind it, in which you can easily put a paperback book, spare batteries or pencil case.
There’s also a lower side pocket that’s an ideal size for an AC adapter or extension cable.

The back of the case also has a large slim pocket for letters, magazine or a Macbook Air ;)

Final thoughts
Pros:
This is a great case that is ideal for me: My Macbook is really protected, but I don’t have to lug around a huge backpack all day. Despite being very sturdy, it’s also very light (1,1 Kg / 2.5 lbs) – which is good since the Macbook itself weighs a fair amount and when you have a lot of unnecessary weight on your should all day, you do notice it a bit.

Cons:
If you need to carry a large amount of stuff, then this probably isn’t the ideal bag for you: It can’t hold a college binder or several textbooks as well as a Macbook for instance.
Luckily most of my courses offer all our texts in PDF form and I’ve moved to taking a lot of my notes on my computer.

Feel-good bonus!
I also like the fact that this case is part of Brenthaven’s new “Zero Impact” program: They offset all the carbon caused by making this case and have also pledged to invest 5% of their profits into green projects.
Obviously the computer case you buy is only a small part of your global footprint, but every little bit counts, right?