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Appletell reviews the Omniverse Universal Laptop Tote

Sections: Laptops, MacBook, Macintosh/Apple Hardware, Peripherals, Reviews

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Omniverse Universal Laptop ToteProduct: Laptop carrying case
Developer: Uniea
Minimum Requirements: 13″ MacBook and similar sized laptops
Price: $39.95
Availability: Now

Inside the Omniverse tote bag from Uniea, I get the feeling my MacBook isn’t going to be used for writing, surfing the Web or retouching photos. Rather, it seems it’s on its way out to shovel the drive, split some wood or rescue some skiers. This isn’t a tote; it’s a coat. In event of emergency, you could put it over your head to prevent your ears from getting frostbit.

I’m not sure, therefore, how I feel about the design. The black, checkerboard-stitched exterior is not ugly, but it’s not going to turn any heads, either. It’s…industrial. Practical. The design just seems to be the result of the functionality, and I guess that’s fine (one of my coworkers greatly prefers the design over the flashier cases I’ve reviewed lately). Many of my favorite iPod and iPhone cases grow from functionality, not fashion, so why not my laptop case, too?

The exterior is a silk fiber material that’s quite soft and smooth. It doesn’t convey durability, but I have yet to have a problem with it. This much stitching always makes me nervous, but none of it has been snagged or torn off after a month of use.

Omniverse Universal Laptop Tote

The Omniverse doesn’t offer much in the way of storage space. The MacBook fits snugly in the center pocket, and a zippered pocket on the front allows for a notebook and magazines or, at most, your power cord, mouse pad and mouse, as far as computer accessories go. When the laptop is in the bag, however, squeezing these items into the pouch can be tricky. A smaller pocket behind the pouch provide some extra storage space for devices such as USB flash drives, but not much more. It’s also oddly deep, making it hard to get your hand down in there to retrieve them. And although the Omniverse includes a hideaway handles on the top, there’s no option for a shoulder strap…something to consider if you’re carrying your MacBook for long distances.

And yet, despite the utilitarian design and minimal storage/carrying options, the Omniverse does have a couple features that make it quite an attractive option for busy laptop users. First, you don’t have to actually remove your laptop from the case in order to use it. Flaps in the corners of the top and bottom of the Omniverse fold over the corners of your laptop, securing it inside the case. The zipper slides from one edge of the back around to the other, so you can open the case in the same fashion as your laptop itself. Of course, you’ve still got access to your ports and the CD/DVD drive, so go ahead and get to work, then simply close the laptop with case and zip it back up and you’re ready to go.

There are two benefits to this approach. First, since your laptop is always in the case, it’s always protected against scratches and scuffs. Second, the wave-shaped cushioned interior serves as a heat sink that “… absorbs and dissipates heat from the bottom of your computer.” It’s a great solution for those who actually put their laptop on their lap; the outer material is soft against your legs, and the padding prevents the computer’s heat from making you uncomfortable. In fact, the only drawback here is that because of the flaps over the laptop’s corners, the computer never actually comes to a complete close when inside the Omniverse. That’s not a deal breaker, but something to consider.

The other benefit to the foam interior, of course, is that it also serves as a shock absorber. You still don’t want to be dropping your laptop (or dropping things on it), but the Omniverse offers a great deal of protection for a soft-shell case. The wavy adds minimal bulk, and it’s so lightweight that maybe you don’t even need that shoulder strap.

I can’t imagine the Omniverse will become the tote of choice for the dedicated followers of fashion out there. It’s not meant to walk the runway. It’s not meant to be used for lugging your laptop around town all day. The computer user who’d get the best value out of the Omniverse is the person who makes frequent short trips, needs to access the computer quickly, get some work done, then close it back up and move on again. Anyone in tech support, students moving from class to class, programmers bouncing from session to session at WWDC could find this to be the perfect case…especially considering its low price point. At $40, it’s a bit more expensive than most sleeves, but offers better protection and a bit more functionality.

Better yet, you won’t need to worry about your laptop catching a cold. Your mom would be so proud.

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