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12-02-2009, 12:20 AM #1ION Carbon Shell
I've got to be honest – when I first opened the ION Carbon Shell ($99.89) I was pretty sure I was going to put it on my 15" MacBook Pro Unibody, write up a review, and toss the thing back in the box. I've also got to admit – I didn't. It's been a week, and my MBP is still rockin' the Carbon Shell – and I plan on keeping it on.
We've reviewed and tried/seen tons of these "shell" type cases, for both iPhones and laptops, and I generally don't like them. They don't clip on quite right, they're always falling off as a result, and they're usually made of some cheap translucent plastic. The Carbon Shell has none of these issues. It is cleanly styled, a great material, fits like a glove, and stays put.
Out of the box, it looks a little "Dell"ish, mainly due to the circle in the material in the middle, which is designed to allow the Apple logo to show through (and is actually my only dislike of this product – more on that below). Getting the Carbon Shell onto the MacBook Pro 15" is a snap (literally) – there's two pieces, a bottom and top half. Each one simply snaps onto the MBP. I didn't need any force at all – pretty much sat the laptop on the case, and it was connected. Removing is just as easy, and I was able to do so without any problems.
The machining is very well done, as you'd hope for a case that runs on the high side right around $100. Made of "patented polyurethane crafted on high durable Polycarbonate plastic fiber", it looks and feels like leather on the bottom, and like leather with a carbon fiber stitch (somehow) on top. All the openings for the various ports and places you'd need access to are brilliantly crafted and fit perfectly.
The leather-ish material feels very organic and rich, no cheap plasticky sensation here.
Strangely enough, and pretty much my only dislike to this shell – the circle on the top which allows the Apple logo to shine through when lit (when the MacBook Pro is on) is a tough plastic that seems a little cheaper looking than the rest of the shell, and is actually cut incorrectly (as far as I'm concerned). It allows for ALMOST perfect viewing of the Apple logo – but the circle is cut dead center in the shell, and the Apple logo is actually a little higher than that, so it doesn't center vertically in the cut-out circle, and a tiny bit (less than 1/2 a cm) of the Apple logo is not visible at top. It's pretty much the tip of the stem on the Apple which you can't see. This doesn't bother me much, but it is unusual.
The shell protects very well from scratches, dirt, minor spills, etc (exterior only – no added protection when the laptop is open) and I was able to still fit the laptop in my laptop bag, although it was a little tight. My bag was designed specifically for this model of laptop though, so there wasn't much wiggle room to begin with.
One of the unexpected pluses for this case is it's heat absorption. The bottom is well vented so the laptop won't overheat, but I also noticed the polycarbonate disperses the heat in such a way that my lap doesn't get hot at all when working on the laptop. I used to have to place a stand, book, or whatever I had around under the laptop while working with it on my lap to avoid the heat it invariably made too much of. Now I can set it right on my lap and not worry about the heat.
The bottom feels like all leather (except the vents, which are a sturdy looking polycarbonate plastic), and looks it as well.
This one will be staying on my MBP – it's a great shell, and can be picked up either for the unibody MacBook Pro 13"/15" or the Macbook 13"/15" at the ION website.