Product Reviews

Rugged Laptop Case (Review)

I started this blog on a cell phone. And I’m not talking about modern fancy smartphones either. This was a few years ago when I had to work my butt off tapping out each post on a tiny LG screen. Eventually I upgraded to a clunky HP laptop that I literally spent the night on the floor of a Walmart on Black Friday to afford. Seriously. Unfortunately cheap clunky laptop + small kids = broken crap. Specifically, missing keys, a busted cord port, a completely smashed CD drive and a slight warped bend to the entire unit.

So it was no surprise when my laptop stopped working last month.

It booted up… then flat-out died. I couldn’t get it to power up at all. We bought a new cord for it, praying it would fix the problem. No luck. Then we replaced the battery pack. Nothing. Then we took it to a few computer repair places… who apologetically advised it would cost more to fix than to replace, if they could even find parts for it.

I literally cried.

The good news is (prior to my laptop committing suicide) I’d been taking on extra freelance writing assignments and hammering away at various rewards websites in hopes of saving up for a new double stroller. Although I was sad to see my dream of a double stroller fade into the mist, at least I could replace the laptop… and not be forced back into phone-typing hell.

After extensive research I chose a shiny new Dell Chromebook 11. As a “student” model, it perfectly met my needs for price point, portability, battery life and features. Most importantly though, it had incredibly high ratings for durability. All I could think is how awesome it would be to not have missing letters on my keyboard.

Once I had the most durable portable computer I could barely afford, I knew I needed to reinforce it even further with a protective cover. I hit the internet and started doing my research but all I could find were flimsy “skins” and snap-on scratch protectors. Yuck. I didn’t want my new baby to just look pretty… I wanted it to last as long as technologically possible. And longer.

That’s when I discovered “always-on” style cases. Generally marketed towards students to protect borrowed school-owned chromebooks (or employees who use company-owned laptops), they are designed to never be removed from the device and offer constant protection. Genius!!! Why doesn’t every mom (or dad!) on earth own one of these?! And the strongest, most durable and feature-loaded “always-on” case I could find is the Rugged Laptop Case by Sunrise Hitek (available at Uuberstore.com and on Amazon). I was stoked to get my hands on one …and after using it for the last few weeks I’m even more impressed.

In this post I’ll do my best to walk you through all the features as well as my personal opinions and experiences with the Rugged Laptop Case (aka the “RLC”).

Looking good!

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First impression: Very sporty! I love the two-tone color scheme. It’s very different from any of the other cases I came across online. I was a little disappointed in the lack of color options (imagine how cute it would be in a dual tones of blue, lavender or pink!) but that’s honestly a small price to pay for a good protective case. Still, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider bedazzling it a bit, maybe adding a cute patch or some puff paint… but then I looked up ballistic nylon and realized my attempts would be fruitless. I also read how insanely protective ballistic nylon is. This stuff is crazy durable. They even make gun cases out of it! Still, I found a way to add a little feminine touch…

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In case there’s any confusion: I’m mom!

That little rubber-framed clear plastic pocket is probably intended to hold a business card or student ID to identify whose laptop it is in school or business environments. In my case, I painted the back of a frozen yogurt frequent customer rewards card with acrylic paint. Crafty and cute! But if you have individual chromebooks for kids at home (I’m talking to you, homeschooling mommies who have more patience than me!) you could easily make them name tags using glitter glue and/or markers for fun personalization without compromising the protection of the case.

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Do a little spin: Front and back!

There’s another clear window on the bottom of the case, which baffled me until I watched this YouTube video. Apparently it’s called an “asset tag window”. I looked up “asset tags” and learned that most schools and businesses permanently attach these little barcode labels to assets (like laptops) to help keep track of them for inventory, identification and maintenance purposes. Makes perfect sense! …Which made me wonder why this is the first laptop case I’ve come across that has this option. Seems kind of important.

Features and Accessories

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So much awesomeness!

Pictured above are some of the features that stood out to me. The first is a handy handle that’s located on top of the RLC. It makes it very easy to grab and go (plus there’s something fun about carrying something “lunchbox style” …which would probably feel especially natural for children if you choose this case for a little one).

The two pictures on the right show the *included* shoulder strap. This was a welcome surprise since I had looked at several other cases that all sold the shoulder strap separately. This is definitely a money saver! And the nice metal clips and loops and very strong too.

The four self-adhesive velcro tabs were a nice bonus too and (as far as I can tell) are unique to the RLC. If you’re at all concerned that your laptop might get more movement or jarring than is typical (or just want an extra snug fit), these tabs can be stuck onto your device to solidly secure it to the inside of the case. I personally didn’t feel it was necessary for my circumstances (my chromebook fits very snugly and I zip it up and lock it away when not in use) but I saved them in case those circumstances change some day.

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Speaking of snug fits, here’s further proof that they thought of everything when they designed the RLC: Check out these corner straps! The base of the laptop is secured with strong black elastic straps while the upper corners (by the screen) have both elastic straps *and* clear plastic pockets. I personally don’t use the upper elastic straps because they cover part of my screen, but that might not be the case with other device models. And again, it would offer extra security if you anticipate your laptop getting banged around more than usual. When I just use the clear pockets I don’t even notice them when using my chromebook. They don’t obscure the screen in any way.

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I don’t need this zipper… but I love it!

This extra zipper on the “hinge” of the case is used for models that have charging and cord ports on the wide end of the device. This allows it to remain in the case while plugged in. My Chromebook doesn’t have that feature, but I love how flexible and accommodating the RLC is.

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It has a pocket! A REAL pocket!

Some of the sleeve-style covers I came across had a flat zippered pocket on the side that was barely big enough to hold a pair of ear buds. So what am I supposed to do with the monster-size charging cord? Leave it out for the kids to play jump rope and the cats to chew on? Nope. The RLC has a real, functional accessory pocket. The top photo shows all the convenient internal mesh organizer pockets inside. In the bottom photo I fit my charger cord (with power supply), a pair of ear buds and the removable shoulder strap that comes with the case. This pocket alone makes this case worth every penny.

Stay Cool

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When the chromebook is removed from the case, these very unique “cooling channels” are revealed. I have seen several variations of “cooling” options on other cases but none as extensive as what’s found on the RLC. It gives tons of room for airflow under the device, which is extremely important when the case remains on the laptop at all times. I used to actually prop my old laptop up on a milk crate when using it to prevent the underside from getting so hot it would overheat the device and gradually burn my lap. With my new chromebook in the RLC, I can set it directly on my lap to work on my blog for hours at a time without feeling even a hint of warmth. Those “cooling channels” are no joke!

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Seriously cool!

Conclusion

I’m extremely pleased with the Rugged Laptop Case. It’s sporty, durable, adaptable and offers numerous unique features that make it a great value. The only negative aspect is the size. It’s definitely larger and a little heavier than most always-on cases, but not excessively so (and not more than I would anticipate for the amount of storage and level of protection it offers). Still, I wouldn’t attempt to squeeze it into a backpack or diaper bag… which really isn’t necessary anyway, thanks to the included handle and shoulder strap. All-in-all, this case is a great deal and would be perfect for any parent who doesn’t want to *have to* utilize the extended warranty on their chromebook thanks their little monkeys hammering it. I can see it being a good asset for the intended students and companies too. The RLC really is “rugged”. Highly recommended!

Let me know what you think of my review and feel free to share what you like about the options on your own laptop case. How does it compare to the RLC?

Disclaimer: Lost and Farm was sent the above product to facilitate the review. However, this did not sway my opinion in any way. All opinions in this review are 100% my own honest opinion and therefore may differ from your own.

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