The Geeks have reviewed a couple of Otterbox products including the Waterproof PDA Case and the Waterproof Nano and Mini iPod Cases. Otterbox sent us a pre-production model of their new Laptop Case. In the past, I’ve tested the Otterbox products at the pool, the shower, the tub and sink… well, this time I pitted the Otterbox product against the Cartecay River in the north Georgia mountains. Read on to see how the Otterbox Rugged Laptop Case performed.
Founded in 1996, Otter Products has been creating rugged cases and waterproof cases for ten years now. The OtterBoxes are for extreme Geeks who enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, kayaking, biking and swimming. Also, these cases are great for those who must deal with the elements in places like Afghanistan and Iraq.
Earlier this summer, Otter Products released the OtterBox Rugged Laptop Cases and the Geeks received a pre-production model to review. Rather than our usual reviews where we use tap water in a sink, shower or tub, we took off to north Georgia and visited the Cartecay River to give the Otterbox Rugged Laptop Case an actual real-world test.
The case we received to review is considered the OtterBox Medium Laptop Case. This case measures 16.375″ x 14.5″ x 3.375″ and is suppose to fit laptops up to 15″ including 15″ widescreen models. The maximum dimensions of the laptop can be 14.2″ x 11.2″ x 1.9″. I tested with a Dell D820 which is a 15″ widescreen laptop and the laptop fit nice and snug. There are several “bumpers” with heavy velcro on the bottom which allow you modify the inside of the Laptop Case depending on the Laptop, Tablet or UMPC you want to use in the case. The velcro really sticks on the “bumpers” requiring quite some effort to move.
Made out of ruggedized plastic, the case has been made to take a beating. In fact, Otter Products claims you can stand on the case without harming the internal contents. There are two heavy duty latches made of the same ruggedized plastic and rubber and a lock in the center of the case. The handle is made of thick plastic attached to the case with heavy duty nylon while the carrying strap is made of the same nylon and neoprene where the strap touches your shoulder. Attached to the bottom of the case are non-slide rubber grips that help not to scratch surfaces the laptop case sits on.
The back of the case includes a port so you can access the back of the laptop through the port while the laptop is still in the case. Also, since the sides and front of the case are lowered you can even access drives on the sides and front of the Rugged Laptop Case.
Since the case is made of ruggedized plastic, the case is quite heavy. In fact, the case weighs more than my Dell Latitude D820 which is not a light machine. With just a laptop in tow, the case weighs over 15 pounds. Also, with the Latitude in the case, there is no room for magazines or notebooks in the case. I know when I travel I bring my magazines to catch up on my reading. These two issues make this laptop bag a special use item rather than a daily laptop case unless you need this kind of protection on a consistent basis.
Another great feature is that this case is waterproof. It will survive a heavy downpour or, as Otter Products proved at CES in January, a glass of water. We will test this feature later.
Our typical reviews of Otter Products includes three main checks. First, does the case actually support devices that the product information claims? Second, how durable and rugged is the case? Finally, is the case waterproof?
As mentioned above, the laptop case model the Geeks received to review claim that a 15″ widescreen laptop will fit in the case. Using a Dell Latitude D820 (which is a 15″ widescreen laptop) and moving the “bumpers” to the extremes inside the case, I was able to confirm that the laptop does in fact fit in the case. The laptop case even closes! Otter Products also claims that you can use your laptop while the laptop is in the case. This sentence and most of the review has been written while the laptop is seated in the case. While the laptop is usable, the case hurts your arms as they lay across the case. As far as being able to access parts of the laptop while seated in the case, I was unable to open my DVD-writer as it hit one of the “bumpers” but I was able to access the smartcard and PCMCIA slots on the left side of the laptop. The back of the laptop is accessible via the back port but there is no way to plug in a VGA monitor or use the IR port.
The next battery of tests are meant to determine how durable and rugged the laptop case is. Starting with dropping tests, I dropped the laptop case with laptop inside from as high as three feet. Sorry, but I am not going higher than that with a laptop inside because there is no shock absorber in the case. The case and laptop did take the three foot drop fine. I was testing to see if the laptop would move inside the case at all, and it did not. The next test simply involved standing on the case and jumping with the laptop inside. I am not a light geek so I was a little worried but went ahead and ran the test since various other Otterboxes have stood up to this abuse. Thankfully I can still type this review so the case held up under “pressure”!
Finally, in the past I have tested the waterproof claims by putting products in sinks, tubs, showers and swimming pools. I decided to test the waterproof claims by taking the laptop case to the Cartecay river in the north Georgia mountains. Because we received a pre-production model, Otter Products warned us that the case might not be waterproof. Therefore, I opted not to put my laptop in the case while testing with water.
Sporting a pair of waders, I entered the Cartecay river with the laptop case. First I simply dropped the case in the river. The laptop case floated (which is a great sign). Next I threw the laptop case up river and let the case float back down to me. One throw accidently got the case caught in some minor rapids which required some quick movement into a deeper pool which allowed some water to breach the top of the waders. North Georgia mountain water is cold. After retrieving the case I decided to submerge the case under water.
With all the tests done I checked the inside of the case and to my surprise water had breached the case! You see, in my haste to see if the case was waterproof, I neglicted to drain water out of the drain holes in the front of the laptop case. There is a small compartment where the lock is housed that water penetrates. To clear the water, you simply need to tilt the laptop case in the direction of the drain holes which I neglicted to do. After drying out the inside of the case and repeating all the tests, the inside of the case remained dry this time despite warnings that the pre-production model might not be waterproof.
If you are interested in purchasing one of the Rugged Laptop Cases, visit Otterbox.com’s OtterBoxPC Cases product page. The Rugged Laptop Cases retails for $169.95 and is well worth it if you need your laptop in wet or harsh environments.
The Rugged Laptop case can take a 15″ widescreen laptop, a beating and a drowning while keeping your laptop safe.
Unfortunately there is no storage area for magazine and notebooks in the case and the laptop case is quite heavy. Also, while using a laptop in the case, your arms get hurt by the hard plastic.
Did we say this laptop case is waterproof? That of course is the biggest feature, but the laptop case also provides customization for your laptop or tablet to fit snug in the case as well as hard plastic to protect your laptop against dropping and crushing.
The Rugged Laptop Case performed well with the only issues being the ability to use the back port with a VGA cable and IR port as well as having access to the media drive in the test case.
Otter Products has created another high quality product.
The case starts at $169.95 which is steep for a laptop case but it’s waterproof and can handle a heavy geek jumping up and down on the case. Therefore, the laptop case is not your standard case but in a class by itself.
Overall, Otter Product’s Rugged Laptop Case stood up to our battery of tests and is perfect for people that take their laptops in extreme conditions including sand and water. The laptop case is simply too heavy to become your everyday laptop case, but if you need to take your laptop camping or boating, I would want the Rugged Laptop Case to protect my laptop.