Notebook cleanup and protection

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Beauty is skin deep

It’s tough to keep the outside of your laptop scratch- and dirt-free. Sleeves and cases help, but you still have to use your laptop once in a while, right? If you’re the meticulous type, an always-on shell can protect your computer from scrapes and minor dings without adding a lot of bulk—and allow you to use your portable without removing the shell. Speck’s SeeThru Hard Shell (   ; $50) completely encases your MacBook or MacBook Pro in a sturdy layer of clear, blue, or red polycarbonate. For a more luxurious feel, Case-Mate’s Signature Suit ($150) covers your MacBook or MacBook Pro in various combinations of red (pictured), green, white, and black leather. And RhinoSkin’s $60 Hardcase is a hard plastic shell for your MacBook that provides extra storage: a clip-on accessory box holds your AC adapter and cables.

A little protection

Given the cost of a typical laptop, and how much abuse it will take over its lifetime, the fact that few people take steps to protect their laptops beyond a simple carrying case is surprising. You can actually give your laptop the equivalent of a suit of armor—or at least parts of one—without sacrificing usability.

Power Support’s Antiglare Film and Crystal Film A ($24 to $42) are clear protective films that keep scratches and dirt away from your laptop’s screen. The Antiglare version reduces glare from sun and fluorescent light; Power Support claims that the Crystal version produces more-vibrant colors.

To keep dirt, hair, liquid, and other stuff out of your keyboard, consider a cover. iSkin’s ProTouch Keyboard Protector B ($25), Macessity’s Keyboard Shield ($20), and zCover’s typeOn Keyboard Skin ($20) are thin silicone keyboard covers that not only keep the nasty stuff out but also make your notebook’s keyboard quieter—a nice bonus for late-night typing. All are easily removable and washable, and all are surprisingly unobtrusive—it doesn’t feel as though you’re typing through a thick slab of rubber.

Finally, you can keep dirt—and wristwatch-induced scratches—away from your laptop’s palmrest with one of several protective products. Power Support’s Wrist Rug ($20 to $25, including trackpad protection), Marware’s Protection Pack ($20 to $23, including fabric keyboard cover), and Moshi’s PalmGuard C ($20, including trackpad protection) are full-width, adhesive coverings. AVA’s two-piece padded Softpads (   ; $15) are unique in that they also make the MacBook’s sharp palmrest edges more comfortable.

[ Dan Frakes is a senior editor at Macworld and the senior reviews editor at Playlistmag.com. He’s a frequent contributor to Macworld.com’s Mobile Mac blog. ]

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