Sleevz and ScreenSavrz for MacBook and MacBook Pro
Keeping your MacBook or MacBook Pro looking shiny and new isn’t easy. As amazing as Apple’s laptops look when new, the speed with which they get marked and scratched can be equally amazing. Part of the problem is the materials used. The paint finish used on the Titanium-series PowerBooks simply didn’t stick to the underlying metal and plastic, with the inevitable result that paint would scratch or flake away remarkably quickly. Later PowerBooks were better, and the current MacBook Pro series is relatively scratch-resistant, but they can still get marked and dinged if carried about in a rucksack or briefcase. More serious perhaps is damage to the LCD. Again, design is a factor as much as misuse. The sheer thinness of the modern portable computer means that (when closed at least) the gap between the LCD and the keyboard is minimal. Accidental bumps cause the keys to touch the screen, at the least letting grease from your fingers get onto the LCD and at worst actually causing unsightly scratches. Apple is usually reticent about replacing screens that are scratched this way, regardless of whether or not the design of the machine is the cause of the problem, and unfortunately for the owner, removing the scratches is basically impossible short of replacing the screen itself.
Radtech’s Sleevz are strong, form-fitting sleeves that protect a Mac portable from scratches and minor impact damage. They are made from Optex, a material also used for lens-cleaning cloths; this means that while strong, Sleevz are very soft and will not mark plastic, paint, or metal in any way.
Sleevz are available in a variety of sizes suitable for MacBooks, MacBook Pros, G4 PowerBooks, and the dual-USB iBooks. The iBook Sleevz are $24.95 each, while the others are priced at £$24.95 to $29.95 depending on the size and model. The currently available colours in the US are grey or black, but in the UK some Sleevz come with the option of an embossed Union Jack logo. Being made from fabric, the Sleevz are very light and can be easily folded or rolled up for storage when not in use. They can also be machine-washed, something that Radtech recommend be done periodically to ensure that bits of dirt and grit don’t get embedded in the cloth itself.
There’s not much to explain with regard to use. Your laptop slides into the Sleevz and off you go. The fabric is easier to grip than the metal and plastic finish of a Mac portable, making carrying the machine a good deal safer, and the protection offered by the Sleevz means that you can feel more confident about stowing your laptop in a rucksack or briefcase. The Optex fabric is slightly elastic and fits the laptop very snugly, so there’s little chance of the machine sliding out accidentally. On the other hand, these are laptop protectors rather than carry cases, and so the full protection and utility offered by a proper laptop case is missing. There isn’t enough padding to protect the computer if its dropped, and there aren’t any pockets for things like mains adapters and remote controls.
The only real flaw to the product is the absence of any type of protection for the part of the laptop exposed by at the open side of the Sleevz. Obviously there needs to be an open side, but it’s a shame that there isn’t some sort of buckle-down flap or cover that keeps the exposed surface as safe as the rest of the machine.
Pros: Relatively inexpensive. Helps keep the computer clean and scratch-free.
Cons: One edge of the computer is exposed. Uninspiring range of colours.
MyMac.com Rating (out of 5): 4
ScreenSavrz are screen protectors made from the same Optex fabric as the Sleevz. There are two types, the “full size” ones that cover the keyboard and trackpad and the “universal” ones that cover the keyboard only. Radtech actually make another product that helps keep screens in good condition, small plastic cushions called Wildeepz that stick to the fairing around the LCD. These are primarily of value for Mac portables that didn’t have such cushions built into the display already, such as the Titanium PowerBook series; they may be redundant on the more recent Mac portables like the MacBook Pro that have small rubber pads along the top edge of the display. Be that as it may, the job of the ScreenSavrz cloth is firstly to keep dirt from getting from the keyboard onto the screen, and secondly to stop the keys and the trackpad button from scratching the screen. While dirt can be relatively easily cleaned away using a variety of products, scratches are nigh-on impossible to shift; I know, because I’ve tried. Nothing is worse that having to spend all day staring at an LCD screen marred by scratches filled with grime.
The cloths themselves are pretty nondescript, and reviewing them is relatively easy. Yes, they do their job nicely. They don’t really have any extra features worth noting. though they can be used as screen wipes, especially when combined with an LCD-friendly cleaning solution. My review samples were grey and blue, but there are various other colours available including a rather jolly leopard-print “Shagwire” cloth. The cloths are very thin (less than a millimeter) and consequently don’t put any strain on the hinge between the chassis and the display, a common problem with home-made screen protectors. Like the Sleevz, the ScreenSavrz cloths can be machine washed as required.
ScreenSavrz are priced according to their size, the iBook and universal ones at $9.95 rising to $16.95 for the full-screen 17″ ones for the biggest MacBook Pro and PowerBook models. Note that the full-screen ScreenSavrz don’t actually fill the entire screen in all cases, presumably because they are made to a set of sizes rather than to specific Mac portable models. The 15″ ScreenSavrz snugly covers the screen on a 15″ PowerBook but leaves about half an inch exposed down the left and right sides of the 15″ MacBook Pro. To be fair, this shouldn’t actually cause any problems, but it is worth being aware of when shopping.
For a simple bit of cloth, the price of ScreenSavrz might seem a bit high, and there certainly are viable alternatives that can be made at home. But given the cost of replacement screens, the peace of mind obtained from having something with the quality and softness of ScreenSavrz probably makes the expense money well spent. For owners of Mac portables that don’t have built-in cushions to prevent screen damage in particular, these are almost essential purchases.
Pros: Does exactly what it promises to. Nice variety of colours and patterns. Doubles as a handy screen wipe.
Cons: A bit pricey for a bit of cloth. Doesn’t entirely cover the screen in all cases.
MyMac.com Rating (out of 5): 4
The ScreenSavrz cloth fits neatly between the screen and keyboard, keeping the LCD clean and scratch-free.