For many—most?—owners of the 11-inch MacBook Air, size and weight are of paramount importance. So you don’t want to weigh down the laptop with bulky, heavy protection. On the other hand, many of the laptop bags specifically designed for the 11-inch Air are, like the Air itself, compact—if you’ve got a bunch of other gear to carry, you’re out of luck. A more-flexible option is a laptop sleeve that protects the Air inside another bag, large or small.
If you’re looking for the best combination of sleeve protection and light weight, Be.ez’s LA robe Air 11 is tough to beat. While the LA robe looks like a simple neoprene sleeve, it’s actually made of 5mm-thick, low-resilience polyurethane (LRPu)—a memory foam-like material that dissipates impact and then slowly returns to its original shape—covered in jersey-like fabric.
The LRPu makes the LA robe much stiffer, and much better able to absorb shocks and bumps, than a neoprene or fabric sleeve, but it’s also shockingly light: The sleeve weighs only five ounces, a couple ounces less than a neoprene sleeve for the iPad. It does add some bulk, however: With an 11-inch Air inside, the sleeve is about 13 inches long, 9 inches across, and about 1.25 inches thick. But that’s still small enough to fit inside most bags, and the sleeve will even keep your Air safe inside an unpadded bag.
The LA robe Air 11 fits the Air well, with only a few millimeters of additional space inside. Just inside the sleeve’s zippered opening is a padded lip that offers additional shock protection and keeps the zipper from coming in contact with your computer. There’s not much more to the LA robe than that—it’s a sleeve, after all.
The sleeve’s fabric-over-foam construction lets Be.ez offer the sleeve in a variety of designs. I tested the Chic Marine version, which is dark blue on the outside with a different color—light blue, pink, or yellow—on the inside. The LA robe Air 11 is also available in Rose (three solid-color models, each a different shade of pink); Allure (three striped models—gray, brown, or multi-colored); and Allure Lavender (a striped-purple, Japan-only special edition).
My only concern about the LA robe Air 11 is that I don’t know how the fabric covering will hold up over time. However, a few years back, I bought Be.ez case for a white MacBook; that case uses the same fabric-over-foam construction and it still looks great after moderate use. (There’s also a line of rugged trim around the edge of the LA robe Air 11 that should reduce wear on the fabric itself.)
The LA robe Air 11 is a great companion for the 11-inch MacBook Air, offering surprisingly good protection and barely-there weight, letting you stash the Air inside whichever bag or backpack you happen to be carrying.
(Be.ez makes LA robe sleeves for most laptop and netbook sizes, as well as for the iPad, portable hard drives, and various other devices.)