Review: handle-it

The handle for easy transport of laptops (June 21st, 2006)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Case-mate

Price: $49.99 US

The Good

  • More secure method to tote around naked MacBook Pro. Keeps an overheated MacBook Pro from fusing to your lap.

The Bad

  • Hinges double width of MacBook Pro and can hinder slipping it out of a case. MacBook Pro heat can weaken bracket at corners, making it susceptible to bending.

Do you remember the original clamshell iBook? Among its great design elements, I appreciated the built-in handle to tote it around. If you have ever carried a laptop under your arm, and had that sinking feeling as it started to fall to the floor, you would appreciate a handle all the more.

As much as I love my MacBook Pro and the PowerBooks before them, I have often felt some unease with how to handle it. With all the smooth surfaces that give you no traction, it is not a trivial matter to grasp, squeeze, and lift when closed and upright in my bag. Similarly, there is always the lingering fear of it slipping out of my hands and leaving gravity to do what it will.

Simple Handle for a Slippery Book

So, along comes Case-Mate with their intriguing solution to the matter: handle-it. It is a simple black leather-covered handlebar connected to a 6061 aircraft-aluminum bracket. You attach the handle to the bottom of the MacBook Pro via its case screws below its hinge. Now, some may think altering the sleek lines of the MacBook Pro (MBP) by attaching a handle is on the order of penciling in a mustache on the Mona Lisa, but I think it's more like putting glasses on the old girl, not part of the grand design, but something quite useful. Installation is simple and Case-Mate even included the screwdriver used to manipulate the MBP's screws. The screwdriver is useful now, and maybe even more so down the road, if you ever have to go under the hood, but the usual "do-so-at-your-own-risk" disclaimer applies.

The handle-it is not only a handy tote, but its design provides a couple of other benefits that make it quite the triple treat. First the handle, then the elbow-like hinges, which serve to prop up the MacBook keyboard to a more comfortable typing angle when it's sitting on a flat surface. Finally, when the MBP is in your lap, the leather-covered handlebar insulates your legs from the skillet that the bottom of the MBP can be occasionally. In all, the handle-it design facilitates air circulation around the machine, and thereby dissipates heat from MacBook Pro.

Good Product, but not perfect

Though handle-it has a lot going for it, there are a few things that keep me from giving it an unqualified rave review. First, the gaskets in the elbow hinges should have a slightly larger radius than the arms joined together. They should also be more rubber than plastic, so that when the MBP is put on a flat surface, like a table, the metal elbows don't slide, and potentially mar the surface. Next, the screws at the ends of the handlebar worked their way loose, resulting in some odd skewing or torquing of the handle and its hinge arms. As long Case-Mate includes a screwdriver, they could put an Allen wrench on the other end to further tighten it. (Editor's Note: Case-mate has solved that problem and has incorporated a special tightening solution into the presently shipping models, so an allen wrench is no longer needed.)

Lastly, a couple of external factors combined to compromise my handle-it's integrity. First, the MBP can get quite warm, and this warmth heats the mounting bracket. Second, the elbows often snag inside my MBP's case. Once, after using the MBP awhile, I put it away in its case, and then shortly after pulled on the handle to remove the still-warm MBP from the case, it was shockingly easy to bend the bracket away from the MBP at one end. Now my handle-it equipped MBP doesn't sit as flat on my desk. Handle-it is not necessarily to blame for the warping, but it was disappointing to find it isn't as rugged as a mobile-computing road warrior might want.

Still, even given those minor problems, in the end handle-it adds more to my MacBook Pro's utility. I'd rather it handle my MBP than go without handle-it.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Jack Martin


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