OtterBox Rugged Laptop Case

by PocketGoddess on February 20, 2007

OtterBox Rugged Laptop Case, MediumI’ve reviewed several other OtterBox products in the past, such as the OtterBox 1900 PDA Case, OtterBox for iPod Nano, and Otter Armor. The latest case from the good folks over at OtterBox takes the same principles of extreme durability, waterproof protection, and functional design and “super sizes” all of them into a rugged laptop case designed to protect your mobile computer from just about anything.

The Medium size case I was sent for review will hold any laptop with up to a 15″ widescreen display. The exterior dimensions of 16.375″ x 14.5″ x 3.375″ are comparable to just about any standard briefcase, though of course this is no ordinary bag. The first thing that caught my eye is the carry handle, made of a nylon strap with a thick rubber reinforcement at the top with ergonomic finger grips. It’s extremely durable and rugged and feels very good to hold, with is a very good thing–this case is quite heavy, even empty.

OtterBox Laptop Case, Strap Detail

A shoulder strap is also included, and it has heavy duty metal lobster claw hooks that attach to special holders on each side of the case. They freely rotate, offering a bit of extra comfort since the strap is allowed to angle as necessary to fit better on your shoulder. The exterior of the case is black, with “feet” on the bottom edge and the back of the case so that if you stand it up or lay it down on a table, it won’t wobble. There’s also a lock with two keys provided, so that you can lock the case to protect your laptop.

Two latches hold the case securely closed; in order to open the case you must pull each one forward and then down to release the catch. This is a little difficult to do, which is perfectly acceptable because it’s those ultra-tight latches that maintain the waterproof seal around the laptop compartment. Inside the case you’ll find that it is completely lined in “loop” Velcro, which provides a bit of soft padding for the contents but more importantly serves as the attachment method for the rubber bumpers that secure your laptop inside the case.

Since the bumpers are removable and repositionable, they’ll safely hold any size laptop that will fit in the case, from a tiny 10″ Fujitsu LifeBook like mine all the way up to a 15″ monster. All you have to do is position your laptop in the case and then lift up each corner to place the bumper in just the right spot. There are also two special L-shaped bumpers that you can use instead of the regular corner bumpers, so that you don’t have to worry about any ports being obstructed.

OtterBox Rugged Laptop Case, Interior Detail

The final step is using the long strap in the middle to secure your laptop in the bottom of the case. It uses Velcro, so it will accommodate any thickness and yet fit snugly. The “hook” portion is a nicer grade than that used for the bumpers, which means that it’s fairly quiet when you open up the strap; you won’t be moving the bumpers unless you get a different laptop, so they do make quite a racket when you reposition them. I was glad to see that the Velcro patches on the bumpers are much larger than the bumpers themselves, ensuring a very tight grip so you don’t have to worry about them coming loose. They’re also attached to the bumpers with recessed metal fasteners so they’re durable and long lasting.

You can use your laptop in the case; all you have to do is open the strap and lift the lid of your computer. If you need to plug in a power adapter or Ethernet adapter, you’ll be glad to know that there’s an opening at the bottom of the case that will accommodate anything you might need. It is fitted with a rubber plug that keeps the case waterproof when you don’t need the access, but is easy to remove when necessary. It is permanently attached to the inside of the case, so you won’t be able to lose it.

OtterBox Rugged Laptop Case, bumper detail

If you have a small laptop like mine, you’ll be able to nestle the AC adapter and other cables along the sides or bottom of the case, though of course if you have a very large computer, you may not have room inside the case to store any accessories. There’s also a very handy portfolio/business card/pen holder accessory that mounts to the top of the case so you can carry business essentials in an organized fashion.

Of course there are some tradeoffs associated with choosing a case like this–lack of accessory storage, no compartments/pockets for organization, and the weight. As I mentioned briefly earlier, this case is quite heavy, even empty. The included shoulder strap does have a soft pad in the middle, but you might want to upgrade to something a bit cushier if you intend to use the shoulder strap extensively; I found it more comfortable to use the carry handle integrated into the top of the case. If you need the protection though, you simply can’t go wrong–I dropped the case from a desk to the floor, and I was even brave enough to try it in the bathtub, and this case really is waterproof. In both cases, my precious LifeBook was unscathed, nestled securely in the corner bumpers and held firmly in place by the center strap.

The OtterBox Medium Laptop Case is available now for $169.95, and the optional Business Card/File/Pen & Pencil Holder accessory is $24.95. OtterBox is also offering free ground shipping on all orders over $60, which is a great deal. You can get more information or purchase one at the OtterBox online store.

4.5 out of 5

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