Back in late 2006, I reviewed Speck’s SeeThru Hardshell case for the MacBook Pro. Made of thin, rigid polycarbonate, the SeeThru was a form-fitting hardshell case that provided protection against scratches and minor bumps, as well as layer of bright color, without adding much bulk to your laptop.
Since then, Speck has produced SeeThru models for every Mac laptop (as well as a number of other devices). But with the release of the “unibody” MacBook and MacBook Pro lines, the company has released a new line of shells, the SeeThru Satin. The Satin offers the same protection and general design as the standard SeeThru, but with a less-transparent, matte finish that provides a very different appearance. I tested the black version for the 13-inch MacBook, but the Satin is also available in yellow, pink, red (“cranberry”), and purple.
As with earlier SeeThru models, the Satin consists of two pieces: one that attaches to and covers the laptop’s lid/screen, and another that covers the bottom and sides. Tiny tabs, nine around the screen and four for the bottom, keep the pieces in place while making it easy to remove the shell. A large opening on the left side of the base piece provides access to the MacBook’s ports, while a slot on the right allows you to insert and remove optical discs; the hinge area in the back is also left open. Finally, a small area on the bottom of the case provides ventilation slats.
As someone who strives to keep his laptops in good condition, I’ve always liked the SeeThru line because, for example, it lets you toss your laptop into the security bin at the airport without having to worry that the computer will emerge from the other side with new scratches and scuffs. (I’ll be covering another approach to such protection, NLU’s BodyGuardz, in a few weeks.) It’s also great for people who like to decorate their laptops with all manner of stickers, paints, and other substances they wouldn’t dare apply directly. Finally, by placing a layer of polycarbonate between your laptop and your lap, a shell keeps your legs cooler while using your MacBook.
Compared to SeeThru models for previous Apple laptops, I found the Satin—and, by extension, all current SeeThru models, since the Satin and standard versions differ only in finish—to offer a slightly better fit. Although the differences are admittedly small, everything seemed to line up a bit more precisely, and the case felt more snug and solid overall. I also like that Speck has opted, in recent and current versions of the SeeThru, to leave the entire port area exposed; while this provides slightly less protection, it also ensures that cables, plugs, and laptop locks fit properly.
One advantage of the Satin over the standard SeeThru models is that the Satin’s matte surface provides a slightly better grip than the standard’s glossy plastic. On the other hand, fingerprints, oils, and scuffs—though not scratches—are much more visible on the Satin’s matte finish than on the glossy surfaces of the standard SeeThru.
Other minor drawbacks remain from the original SeeThru: It makes your laptop slightly thicker, and to remove your laptop’s battery, you need to remove the bottom piece of the SeeThru. You’ll also want to make sure your MacBook’s exterior, as well as the interior of the SeeThru, are free of dust and dirt before installation; because the case fits flush against your laptop’s surfaces, you don’t want specks (no pun intended) of dirt grinding against the aluminum. Finally, while the SeeThru does provide ventilation openings, my MacBook did get slightly warmer during use—not enough to cause concern, but it’s a consequence worth noting.