Tom Bihn “Archetype” Case for MacBook Pro Review Review (pics, specs)

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The Tom Bihn Archetype Laptop Case for MacBook Pro

Review By
Scott Bellefeuille

Photos By Barry J. Doyle

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ar che type n. 1. a typical, ideal, or classic example of something  2. Synonyms: epitome, prime example, original, classic.

Archetype is an apt name for this simple yet elegant bag by Tom Bihn. The Archetype is designed to provide exceptional protection for your MacBook Pro or MacBook in a minimalist form while maintaining a sense of style.

Features and Specifications

The Tom Bihn website outlines the Archetype’s key features as:

  • Made of Genuine Cork Fabric
  • #8YKK Uretech(r) “splash-proof” zipper
  • Comfortable molded plastic handles
  • Cradles your Powerbook, MacBookPro or MacBook in .25″ (8mm) dense, closed-cell foam and a super-soft interior
  • Available in sizes for the 17″ and 15.4″ MacBook Pro, the 13″ MacBook and 12″ Powerbook.
  • Weight: 10oz.
  • Holds only your laptop: sleek; minimal; clean
  • Made in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A.
  • List price of $95.00

  • Construction and Styling


    As with most Tom Bihn products the build quality and attention to detail are immediately noticeable. The Archetype is constructed from .25″ (8mm) closed cell foam designed to pad your notebook on all sides and protect it from the bumps, grinds, scrapes, and minor falls of every day use. The case is a soft shell design so wouldn’t offer much protection from a significant impact, but in a lightweight sleeve type design this is a fair trade off.

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    Another detail of the exterior and perhaps the best example of Tom Bihn quality is the zipper. The web site claims the bag closes with a “#8YKK Uretech Splash Proof zipper. I don’t know about the technical merits of the zipper but it’s evident it closes smoothly and forms a tight seam at all points along the zipper.

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    Unlike some bags, your laptop is also well protected from potential “zipper burn” (or scrapes and scratches from the zipper itself) by foam padding that separates the zipper from the shiny aluminum skin of your laptop.

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    The handle is a simple fabric loop design with added rubber grips for slip protection and comfort. A removable shoulder strap would perhaps be a nice addition but might impinge on the minimalist esthetic of the bag.

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    Finally, the most unique element of the exterior design is the use of genuine cork fabric for the front and back panels. In pictures you might think the cork look of the Archetype is simply a design on fabric, but in person you can actually feel the grain. I’ve never heard of cork fabric before and don’t quite know if there’s any significant benefits one gains from cork fabric, but it does provide a stylish and interesting exterior that’s a nice departure from basic black ballistic nylon.

    It’s common knowledge that cork floats, so one potential benefit may be that if you drop your laptop in a lake it just might float (of course I haven’t tested this so I disclaim any responsibility or liability if anyone reads this and decides to zip their new MacBook Pro in an Archetype and toss it in a lake!) Tom Bihn does claim on their web site though that this is their most weather-resistant case and judging by the tight seams and cork exterior I wouldn’t hesitate to trot through a good downpour with my Powerbook snuggly zipped up in the Archetype.


    The Tom Bihn web site describes the interior of the Archetype as “practical and protective” which pretty well sums it up.

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    The interior is lined with a soft brushed tricot knit which feels almost velvety to the touch and pretty much guarantees the interior of the bag won’t be responsible for any scratches on your laptop.

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    As mentioned above, the foam padding and tricot knit fabric completely encircles the edges of the interior keeping your laptop safe from not only outside bumps and scratches but also from the zippers.

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    The Archetype comes in a number of sizes to snuggly fit 17″ and 15.4″ MacBook Pros, the 13″ MacBook, and the 12″ Powerbook. I tested it with my 15″ Powerbook and the fit was as close to perfect as you can get. The Archetype is designed to fit like a glove and hence doesn’t provide extra pockets for power supplies, cables, disks, water bottles, or other items. In fact this was a deliberate design choice. The case is aimed at buyers who are looking for a sleek and minimalist means to protect their laptop on those quick jaunts to the cafe or the office. The Archetype is slim enough however that it could easily fit into a briefcase or messenger bag when you need to travel with more accessories.


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    The Archetype is definitely a functional and stylish bag that offers excellent protection for your Apple laptop. The build quality is excellent and you can be confident the bag will provide years of protection (Tom Bihn even provides a lifetime guarantee on the case). However the build quality and style of the bag don’t come cheap at $95.00. But if you’ve dropped two grand on a MacBook Pro another C-note to dress up and protect your aluminum beauty is probably worth it.

    For more information and to order your Tom Bihn archetype vistit the Tom Bihn website.


  • Slim, lightweight, minimalist design
  • Excellent build quality
  • Snug fit and excellent protection for your notebook
  • Stylish and unique cork fabric design*


  • No space for power adapters, cables, etc. (not an issue though if you’re looking for a sleeve type case for short jaunts)
  • Price- $95.00 (a bit on the high end for a sleeve type design)
  • Stylish and unique cork fabric design* (not everyone has the fashion wherewithal to pull off cork!)




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