by John Ratsey
Overview and Introduction
Think of this scenario. You have just bought a new computer. It weighs only 2.5kg (5.5lb), but when you put the computer into its carrying bag the combined weight is 4kg (9lbs).
While most people carry their computer in a dedicated computer bag (some of which, by their labels, may attract the attention of thieves) an alternative is to put the computer into a sleeve which then goes inside another bag. Most of these sleeves are made from neoprene, which is a compressible rubber material. While the thickness of material used varies between brands, some of the neoprene sleeves can be quite bulky. The becase notebook sleeve provides an alternative approach within the same basic format by using different materials.
I was sent the 15" becase sleeve for review and then decided that it was just what I needed for my new ultraportable Samsung Q35, so I ordered and paid for the 13" sleeve. The 15" sleeve was sent by post to UK from Canada and arrived in 6 days. The 13" sleeve was posted direct from Slovakia and arrived also after 6 days.
13" and 15" sleeves side by side (view large image)
The becase notebook sleeve is made of a soft leatherette (imitation leather) with a liner made from a woven polyamid material and a zipper with two tabs for closure. The overall result is a soft, light and flexible sleeve which does not significantly add to the bulk of the computer. The gusset which goes around the thin side of the sleeve is double thickness leatherette and the edges are finished in a contrasting colour. The smaller sleeve has a flap under the zipper which is absent from the larger sleeve. However, I am told that this flap is now becoming a standard detail. There are no additional pockets, straps or accessories.
Zipper details on the two sleeves (view large image)
The manufacturer claims that the materials used are water resistant. I checked this by putting the side of a sleeve under running water and can confirm that the water penetration is limited compared with the neoprene sleeves (which absorb water quite easily). The zipper is, however, a potential route for water entry but the flap behind the zipper will provide a partial barrier. Good water resistance also means good dust resistance. However, the case is washable if/when it gets dirty. The build quality of these sleeves is very good. Most of the stitching is concealed, but where it is visible it is very neat.
Inside view of a becase sleeve (view large image)
The 15" sleeve weighs 164g (5¾ oz) and the 13" sleeve weighs 120g (4¼ oz). For comparison, my 15" neoprene sleeve weighs 224g (8 oz). Not a big difference, but it is heavier and weight accumulates. It is difficult to measure the thickness of the materials, but the combined thickness of material in one side of the becase sleeve is less than 1mm (about 1/32 inch). By comparison, the material in my neoprene sleeve is about 3mm thick (1/8") which adds around 6 to 8mm (> ¼") to the thickness of the notebook, although the material can be compressed. The smooth lining material means that the computers slide in and out of the sleeves very easily. The word "becase" is embroidered on the outside of the standard sleeves.
15.4" widescreen notebook in 15" sleeve (view large image)
Why use a becase sleeve?
These sleeves provide lightweight protection against scuffing and scratching which can occur when a laptop is placed in a bag with other items, even paper. However, these sleeves provide minimal protection against impact damage, so they are best used with an outer padded bag and/or a computer with reasonably sturdy build. The most likely purchasers of these sleeves are people who value compactness and mobility and have probably paid extra for a slim computer with good build quality.
My Q35 in its sleeve - the colours almost match! (view large image)
These lightweight sleeves are particularly appropriate for the smaller notebooks for which any separate carrying bag would add substantially to the weight and bulk. They are less appropriate for larger computers except those either with better build quality or the computer in the sleeve will be carried in a sturdy bag.
One obvious potential market is for travellers who are suffering from the airport security "one hand bag only" rule. My workaround is to put the computer in a thin sleeve inside the main hand bag while putting a lightweight computer bag into the checked-in luggage. The reduced volume of the becase sleeve compared with a neoprene sleeve gives a little more space for other items in the hand baggage.
Computer in sleeve packed among the documents and ready to travel (view large image)
The sleeves can be ordered through the becase website www.becase.com. The becase sleeves are available in two colour schemes: Beige, with a light blue liner and edging; and anthracite (dark grey) with a bright red liner and edging. The standard sizes are 11" to 16" in one inch increments with a couple of extra variations around the 14" size. Unlike a neoprene sleeve, there is no stretch so the next biggest size should be selected. The 15" sleeve fits my 15.4" widescreen Samsung X60plus with a little space to give. I ordered the 13" sleeve for my 12.1" widescreen Samsung Q35 because the 12" standard sleeve would not be wide enough. The result is a loose, but acceptable, fit. The becase website offers a lookup table to advise on the correct sleeve size for a range of computers from the major brands.
For those who want a more exact fit, becase offer custom sleeves using user-specified dimensions up to a maximum of 360mm x 290mm x 40mm. Custom sleeve orders can also specify up to 15 characters of lettering (owner's name, computer's name or whatever) to be embroidered on the sleeve.
The standard lettering on a sleeve (view large image)
becase also offers a separate wallet for power supplies and cables in the same materials and colours. I haven't tried one of these and I am content to continue to live with a jumble of wires stuffed into available corners. I am a little worried by the implied suggestion on the becase website to keep the PSU in the sleeve while in use. Users would need to watch out for possible overheating.
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