Axio 13.3˝ Hardsleeve MacBook Pro – Review

Axio 13.3˝ Hardsleeve MacBook Pro
Company: Axio

Price: $99.99

As a Mac consultant/troubleshooter for the past fifteen years, I tend to carry a lot of baggage around with me. And not just the psychological kind, mind you. What with computer toolkits, innumerable CDs and DVDs, cables, chargers, adapters, product manuals and the like, I find it necessary to employ a big, bulky suitcase-style laptop bag in the course of completing my appointed rounds.

There are those times, however, when all I really need to have at the ready is my precious 13.3” black MacBook. And in those situations, I’m usually stuck lugging around that same big, bulky suitcase-style laptop bag, the better to shield the MacBook from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Sure, it would be nice to have an alternate-and sleeker-option for protecting my laptop, but I’ve never been convinced that those neoprene “wetsuit”-style sleeves would offer a great deal in the way of protection-especially should my MacBook chance to encounter that most fearsome of all adversaries, the ubiquitous “hard, unyielding surface.”

Enter Axio’s 13.3˝ Hardsleeve MacBook Pro case. To the casual observer, the black molded outer shell, the industrial styling and the Axio logo make it look more as if it were designed to hold the computer codes necessary for going to Defcon 4 than to protect an ordinary Apple laptop. Of course, no Apple laptop is ordinary if it happens to contain your stuff, and the people at Axio seem to understand that. Everything about this case screams “tough,” right down to the extra-sturdy steel zippers that appear impervious to breakage, or even to bending. The ABS (that’s acrylonitrile butadiene styren) for the curious among you) plastic shell has a rough surface to enable a sure grip (important for a case that does not have a carrying handle) and also has that indestructible feel to it.

The Lycra-lined interior and red contrast thread in the zipper stitching make the Axio an attractive option for protecting your MacBook, although I can’t help thinking that in this view it looks as if it could also make a mean grilled cheese sandwich.

As you might expect from the name of this product, the 13.3˝ Hardsleeve is custom fitted for the 13.3˝ MacBook, and it shows when you place your laptop into the interior cavity, which is Lycra-lined and perfectly sized for my laptop. The action of the zippers when opening and closing is very smooth and sure, and the stitching for the zippers even has a nice red contrast thread sewn in. Not that it makes the zippers work any better, but it sure looks sharp.

I couldn’t help but notice that this case is a perfect example of bilateral symmetry, in that the top and bottom surfaces are styled exactly the same. When I first placed my MacBook inside and zipped it up, I realized that there was no way to determine whether I would be opening the case from the top or the bottom, so I figured half the time I’d be looking at the ventral surface of my laptop when I decided to free it from the confines of the Hardsleeve. Not a big deal, I suppose, but then I happened to discover that the Axio folks had thoughtfully supplied a set of four adhesive rubber feet to place on one surface of the case, which not only provides for instant “this side up” identification but prevents the case from sliding around when placed on a smooth surface. The feet are actually quite prominent, almost 1/4” high, so it remains to be seen whether they’ll be vulnerable to being dislodged from the bottom of the case when subjected to the unbearable clumsiness of the Mac consultant.

Getting back to the subject of “hard, unyielding surfaces” for a moment, I’m not willing to sacrifice my own MacBook in the interests of determining exactly how well the Hardsleeve would protect it in the event of a fall, and I could not find any evidence of any “official” drop tests having been performed on the Hardsleeve line on the Axio site. However, this case really is tough, and if I did happen to experience an unfortunate outbreak of butterfingers, I haven’t yet seen the laptop case that I’d rather take my chances with than this one.

This is one tough case…even the zippers are designed to take a licking and, er, keep on zipping.

There is one thing about the “tough” aspect of this that could be a minor drawback for some-specifically, the zipper design which was obviously engineered for maximum durability. Occasionally I will employ a small luggage padlock on my laptop bag or my suitcase that I pass through the holes in the zipper tabs to lock them together, thereby making it just a tad more challenging for the casual busybody to gain access to the contents within. As you can see from the accompanying photo, the Hardsleeve’s zipper tabs are quite solid indeed. If I really wanted to find something to quibble about, I would note that the Hardsleeve adds 1 lb…, 12 oz. of additional weight to your laptop should you choose to employ it. I think that’s a small price to pay for the level of protection, the style and the durability that come as part of the package, but those who are weight-conscious when it comes to toting around their laptop could certainly find a lighter case of this type, though most likely nowhere near as protective of their precious MacBook.

One final note: This particular version of the Hardsleeve is called the 13.3˝ Hardsleeve MacBook Pro case, not to be confused with the 15˝ Hardsleeve MacBook Pro case, which is actually designed for the 15˝ MacBook Pro as opposed to the MacBook. To put it another way, the “pro” in the case name refers to the model of the case, not specifically to the MacBook Pro. For those über-Mac laptop users among us, there is also a 17˝ Hardsleeve MacBook Pro case, which just happens to fit-you guessed it-the MacBook Pro 17˝ model. Forgive me if this may have been obvious to the vast majority of you, but I just didn’t want to inspire anyone to purchase the smallest of the three “MacBook Pro” cases, only to discover it does not actually fit either MacBook Pro model.

The bottom line? The strong and stylish Hardsleeve sure makes an impression on your clients, while ensuring that nothing makes an impression on your MacBook. Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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