Today's installment is all about sleeves. No, not the tattoos covering your arms, leather sleeves for your electronic gear.
I reviewed the leather "manila envelope" sleeve for the MacBook Air from iSobre in June 2008 and loved it. The iSobre sleeve is a step above all the other manila sleeves that I've seen on the market in terms of quality and the fit and finish is impeccable. Based on my experience with the original MacBook Air sleeve, I was looking forward to iSobre's new sleeves for non-Air MacBooks.
Hailing from southern Spain, iSobre products are made from high quality leather which they tan and stitch in-house. The new Minimal 15 (€169.99) is a black sleeve for most 15-inch notebooks and it also comes in a smaller size that fits the 13-inch MacBook and the MacBook Air. The Minimal 15 fits the new MacBook Pro 15 "unibody" like a glove (pun intended) and it has a simple flap closure with two buttons and a string that you use to fasten it – like one of those inter-office manila envelopes. A new twist on the Minimal is that the "buttons" on the closure flap are actually thick pieces of leather, as opposed to plastic buttons.
The original MacBook/Air design (now called "Vintage") comes in tan, but their new offerings are available in several colors and are lined with a nubuck interior for a velvet-like feeling. The exterior is black, full-grain cowhide and the interior is a lime green that provides a nice accent. It fits around my MBP perfectly and the addition of the interior lining adds an extra layer of protection for your iron. While a sleeve alone isn't recommended as a full-time case, it's perfect for day-trips, hoping between meetings or classes or any other time you need your notebook but don't want to schlep your whole bag.
iSobre recently expanded the line to include a sleeve case for the iPhone. The iMinimal (€46.99) is the perfect complement to the Minimal 15 notebook sleeve with its matching black and green design. The fit may seem a little tight at first (especially if you use a screen film) but like a pair of leather shoes, it will break in and loosen slightly with use. Besides, you don't want it too loose, or your iPhone could easily slide out.
If black isn't your thing, iSobre make a number of other notebook sleeves in white leather with several options for the interior color, including blue, fuscia and green for €119.99. Although they may seem a little pricey, quality doens't come cheap.