By Andrew Liszewski
There was a lot of excitement when Asus announced the EEE. It promised all of the functionality of a real PC (running Linux or Windows) with a form factor that was smaller than any other laptop on the market. While there were trade-offs when it came to screen real estate and memory, the relatively cheap price made it an instant hit when it was finally available. However, since the Asus EEE was the first to usher in a new wave of ultra-compact laptops, there were next to no accessories available for it when it hit the market. Thankfully though, with a flood of other ultra-compact laptops on the way, we’re starting to see more and more third-party accessories become available.
A few weeks ago WaterField Designs announced a version of their SleeveCase for the upcoming HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, but since I’ve already chosen the Asus camp I decided to take a look at a version of the case designed for the EEE instead. You can find my complete review of the WaterField Designs EEE SleeveCase after the jump.
Long time reader(s) of the site might remember that I’ve already written a review of the WaterField Designs SleeveCase for a full-size Dell laptop. Since the cases are almost identical (except for the size) I’m probably not going to go into as much detail this time around. I mainly wanted to see if the case was a good solution for carrying the EEE around all day, particularly compared to the neoprene sleeve Asus bundles with it. So if you’re considering one of these cases for your own non-EEE laptop, I would also recommend reading my previous review.
WaterField Designs SleeveCase
Like every other WaterField Designs product I’ve bought or had the opportunity to review over the years, the SleeveCase is well-made and designed and has the feeling of being more like an investment than just a case. Besides carrying my laptop, I’ve found many other uses for the SleeveCases like hauling my Wacom tablet or other equipment that I’m worried might get damaged in transport. They’ve all traveled with me at one time or another and have yet to show any signs of wear or tear. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, while WaterField Designs products aren’t the cheapest on the market, do yourself a favor and spend a few extra bucks, it’s definitely worth it.
Because the SleeveCases are custom made for a staggering variety of laptops from almost every manufacturer, there are only a few ways they can be customized when ordering. Unfortunately color and fabric choice is not one of them. All of the SleeveCases come in this black and gray color scheme which has a professional look that I like. But those of you looking to stand out when it comes to patterns or unique colors might not find them so appealing.
As for logos, the only one appearing on the SleeveCase is the standard WaterField Designs ‘WF’ insignia which is found on a lot of their other cases and bags. Because the EEE case is considerably smaller than a case for a full sized laptop, the logo does tend to stand out a little more. So just be aware of that if logos are an issue for you.
On the back or underside of the EEE SleeveCase is a pocket that’s really only useful for storing thin items like pamphlets or maybe even a paperback. Because of the size of the case you’re not able to fit any letter-sized documents in the pocket unless they’ve been folded. It’s unfortunately also too small to store the EEE’s power adapter. There is the option to add a ‘Piggyback’ accessories pouch which should accommodate the adapter, but that’s going to add to both the size of the SleeveCase and the overall price.
You can also opt to add a set of D-rings to the top corners of the SleeveCase allowing you to attach a strap and carry it as a standalone laptop bag. But again, given the small size of the case carrying it as a laptop bag looks dangerously close to carrying a purse, which is a look that might not appeal to our male demographic. Since I intend to carry this case inside a larger pack, I opted not to add the D-ring or shoulder strap accessories.
The bottom of the SleeveCase features a nylon loop which is used to help you remove the EEE from the case. It definitely has a snug fit once the laptop is inside so this loop is almost a necessity when it comes time to remove it.
The inside of the case features the same lining as the larger version, which is a black felt material covering a layer of soft padding. And this brings me to my only real complaint about the EEE SleeveCase, that the padding inside is maybe just a bit too thick. I know it seems like an odd thing to complain about, so let’s first take a look at the case the EEE actually came with.
I have to give credit to Asus for actually including a case with the EEE in the first place. Since it was the first ultra-compact notebook to hit the market, there were no third-party cases designed to fit it when it went on sale. Sure, you could just stick it in a standard laptop case, but even the smallest ones available at the time would’ve been too large and would’ve defeated the purpose of owning a compact notebook in the first place. The Asus case is made of a soft and stretchy neoprene type material, and I’ll admit it does a pretty good job at protecting the EEE from dings and scratches. But as you can see in this photo, it’s actually pretty thin and doesn’t really provide that much protection.
Here you can see the EEE inserted into the WaterField Designs SleeveCase and it’s pretty obvious that this case is going to provide a lot more protection than the Asus one. But again, I can’t help but feel that maybe the SleeveCase is just a bit too thick for the EEE. It’s important to remember that the biggest factor people will have in choosing the EEE is its size, and the laptop plus the SleeveCase ends up being about twice as thick as the laptop itself. As a result it’s going to take up more room in your bag, and take away from the EEE’s form factor. So I think if WaterField Designs just used slightly thinner materials on the SleeveCases designed for the EEE, HP Mini-Note and other ultra-compact notebooks, they would once again have the perfect solution.
Overall, if you’re looking for a case for the EEE that’s a step up from the one Asus bundles, the WaterField Designs SleeveCase is still a great choice. When it comes to build quality there’s really nothing else on the market that can compare, and the limited but useful options means you’re not paying for accessories you’ll probably never use. I wish the padding and some of the materials used on this particular SleeveCase were just a bit thinner, which would have resulted in a bit less bulk while the EEE is inside, but it will still be my primary travel case for the laptop whenever I’m on the road.
+ High-quality construction throughout. Every seam and stitch is perfect.
+ Base version reasonably priced.
+ Provides considerable more protection than the EEE’s bundled neoprene sleeve.
– With all of the options it can get a little expensive. While the price is justifiable for a $1,000+ laptop, it’s a different story for the relatively cheap EEE.
– Actually adds a bit of bulk to the extremely compact EEE.
– Back pocket doesn’t have enough room to store the power adapter or letter-sized documents.
– Only available in a black and gray color scheme.
WaterField Designs SleeveCase – $38-42 depending on the size you require. ($38 for the Asus EEE.)
– optional Front Flap – $15
– optional Simple Strap and added D-rings – $12
– optional Suspension Strap and added D-rings – $18
– optional ‘Piggyback’ accessories pouch – $22
If you have any questions about the WaterField Designs SleeveCase you’d like answered, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to respond to them as best I can.