by Kevin O’Brien
How would your life change if your laptop was stolen? Do you have family photos on it from your last vacation that haven’t been backed up yet? Do you have an ever important work presentation you just finished, but haven’t emailed in yet? What if such a simple deterrent such as a laptop lock could have prevented your laptop from being swiped when you weren’t looking?
Kensington notebook combination lock (view large image)
This review is about a Kensington lock cable. Most devices on the market today have rounded rectangle slot to accept the special pin that makes up the tip of these locks. Now these aren’t made to prevent someone with bolt cutters, or a linebacker running full speed determined to take your laptop, but it will stop someone who thinks they can just swoop and steal. Not only would it grab your attention if you noticed someone tugging at it, but it will also make a heck of a lock of racket bringing yours and many others attention directly on your laptop and the possible thief.
Using this lock is very simple, to the point that anyone with a bit of finger dexterity can do it. Find something sturdy (your leg even) to wrap the cable around, push the lock through the loop, and then bring the lock body to your laptop to engage the locking mechanism. Press in, twist, and spin the combination, and that’s it. Your laptop is now safe from the most common form of theft; a person just walking by who is going to lift your laptop away while your back is turned.
Now if only things were this simple? When the lock works, it’s great, but what if it doesn’t even fit at all? In the handful of laptops and computers I was able to test this lock on, some fit perfectly, but others were too loose or too tight for it to be effective. One example is my Lenovo C100, which has a channel just a bit too deep, where the lock can’t get in far enough to clear the back wall, and get that initial turn to lock itself. On the other end of the spectrum is my Mac Mini (Intel) that has a Kensington slot, but the thing is so shallow that the lock barely engages, and a bit of twisting once locked will pop it out of place. Luckily, some laptops do work with this. Many of these include Dell Latitude laptops, their docking stations, and even a couple of monitors that I had access to. With these, they were the perfect example of what the lock was designed for. Not too tight, not too loose, juuuust perfect. So at least the most common laptops out on the market work with these locks.
Now with these locks, the weakest point is always going to be your laptop. The mounting point is thin enough to break apart with a really hard tug, leaving a depressing amount of your laptop at your table, and a locking cable firmly attached to it. That is not the purpose of these locks. These locks are designed to provide a nice visible deterrence, and stop a common thief who might try to swipe the laptop without much effort. If you can accept that, this might be the perfect lock for you. Listed below are some situations I might suggest this lock be used:
- Airport while unattended (maybe not the best idea these days, your laptop might be removed and blown up by airport security)
- College dormroom for your son/daughter’s laptop or computer. Many kids leave these doors open to invite friends, but some inebriated fools might decided to overextend their welcome and take a few parting gifts with them. This might help prevent this.
- You home desk, where you might fear a child taking off with your laptop for the day while you are gone, and possibly damaging it.
- Office setting, where you are an employer, but don’t want employees or office visitors walking off with your equipment.
- Dead simple to use.
- Combination lock, that can’t be picked with a BIC pen.
- Nice and visible to get the point across that you don’t want your laptop taken
- Doesn’t always fit well in practice with some laptops.
- Not going to stop someone with bolt cutters, or a someone determined to rip your laptop apart.