Looking for that perfect case for your new Thinkpad Lenovo Tablet? It’s not easy. As a new and “business grade” product, the amount of cases in production out there are very far and few between. Searches in local shops and online lead me to so many cases that were either too big, or too small; there just wasn’t anything that was just right (my Goldilocks of cases ).
Finally my search led me to Waterfield, and lo and behold, on the front page of their Ultimate SleeveCase page was the picture you see above……complete with Thinkpad Tablet. Yes, amongst all the more “common tablet” cases they make – iPad, Acer – they DO make one for mine.
Is the Ultimate SleeveCase my slim, sleek, and sexy Goldilocks ??? Read on…..
Note: while this review refers to the Lenovo custom sleeve, this review applies to ALL Ultimate SleeveCases regardless of your Tablet.
I have an admission to make. I love naked things! I love fondling them, I love the tactile feedback. You just don’t get the same feeling when you’ve got a sexy, sleek, slim model and you have to cover her up in bulky coverings. Yes sorry, I’m talking about gadgets here .
While it’s great to play with things naked (yes still taking about gadgets here, and I’m talking about the device being naked :p ), there comes a time when you have to move them. For me, this generally involves throwing them into one of my various messenger bags like my Timbuk2 Eula. As such, you need some form of protection for them while in transit to keep them away from all those bumps and scratches that can create one of those “OH NO!” moments. I’m not a big fan of folio cases as they tend to add too much weight and bulk while in use, make the unit hard to remove to use unencumbered, and a lot of them only actually protect one side (spine) of your device and leave the other sides open. As such, my preferred case is the sleeve.
Now if I’d purchased an iPad I would have had a plethora of choices in whatever colour, materials, or price bracket I wanted. But because I’ve bought the Lenovo, my choices were VERY limited (even more limited than alternative consumer Android tablets). There appears to only be 2 or 3 folio style cases out there for them at the moment and no sleeve type covers. Extensive research found that the unit just wouldn’t fit into an iPad sleeve, and it would appear that on Ebay “fits a 10.1″ tablet” certainly doesn’t mean fits like a glove, rather fits like a burlap sack (like you want a two-person car and someone tries to sell you a bus because two people will fit).
After so much time searching and researching it’s fair to say I was ecstatic to finally find the Waterfield Ultimate SleeveCase custom built for the Lenovo Thinkpad Tablet.
As an Australian, I’m not sure what it is about San Francisco, but they seem to make so much cool stuff locally still, especially bags. Is it cultural, historical? It’s refreshing these days to see products still made locally and not outsourced overseas and see local companies that haven’t forgotten about “old time” customer service and take pride and stand behind their products.
On their About Us page Waterfield boasts:
“No mass production or overseas workforce. WaterField bags are designed and made in San Francisco, where rent is high, labor is expensive and competition is intense. We wouldn’t go anywhere else!”
The Ultimate Sleeve I received is specifically made for the Thinkpad Tablet (Model 41/29). They make models for other tablets too, and if you have a tablet that isn’t on the list you can actually shoot Waterfield the dimensions and they’ll custom make you a case. External measurements on the sleeve are approximately 290mm X 205mm X 30mm (11.4″ X 8.1″ X 1.2″) and weighs in at around 345 grams (12.2 oz). The main body is constructed of ballistic nylon, so the unit should wear and protect well and will also be water resistant (i.e it will survive light rain or a small shower but not a tropical downpour ). A nice little touch is the bottom boot, the standard being a black and white checked fabric called Lead Indium, but for an additional fee ( $5 ) you can option up a brown leather one (wasn’t Goldilocks a blonde not a brunette? ) To me the leather just looks that little more “sophisticated” and professional.
Inside the tablet compartment, the back (RHS) is (2-3mm?) neoprene, then the ballistic nylon shell. The front (LHS) is covered in Ultrasuede, a layer of neoprene (1-2mm?), a hard plastic screen protector and then the ballistic nylon. Waterfield mention in their videos that the Ultrasuede will clean your screen everytime you insert your tablet. Now obviously they must have slightly different body oils to me, ’cause sometimes nothing short of glass cleaner will remove my fingerprint smears but I assume they’re only referring to the removal of dust. That being said, the Ultrasuede is plush, and unless you end up with some debris stuck in the inner lining, it certainly won’t be scratching your screen at any time.
Here’s my tablet centered on top of the sleeve. You can see that there’s a fair bit of protection around all the edges.
From this view, you can see it’s not the slimmest case around (well actually it is, because as far as I can find at the time of writing, it’s the ONLY Thinkpad Tablet specific sleeve ) and does add some bulk, but that’s good because there’s more protection between your tablet and the ground or other hard surface.
Now what is it about companies from San Francisco? Does Velcro pay the companies there a commission by the metre for using it in their bags and cases? It definitely secures the flap down and it won’t come free at any time, however as I’ve stated in other articles, the sound it makes when opening is either something you hate or something that you tolerate. I’m pretty sure there’s nobody that actually loves it I suspect that I’ll end up putting some “opposing” Velcro on half of either the top or bottom Velcro strip like I have with my Timbuk2 bags. This will reduce the amount of noise it makes when opened, but it will also reduce the closing strength, but not enough for me to worry about.
Once in, the tablet is a nice snug fit. The photo makes it look less fitted than it is but you can’t have it form-fitted at the top if you actually want to get your tablet out. There’s no movement of the tablet in the compartment and it won’t just fall out. There’s no huge gaps between the sides, front, back or top.
Here’s a quick closeup of the corner, you can see that it fits really well length-wise (even though again the sides look like they don’t…they do…really ). Just what you’d expect from a custom-sized sleeve.
Indeed, it fits so snugly that to assist with removing your tablet, there’s a finger tab on the bottom to use when pulling your tablet out. It’s a nice little touch. To give you an idea how snug the fit is, I can hold the case upside down via this strap with the flap open and the tablet doesn’t slip or slide out at all.
The back of the case has a slanted pocket, you won’t fit too much in there but it’s useful for stashing a few cables or a couple of pieces of paper or brochures. Notice the edge binding along the top of the pocket, another nice neat touch
Be warned though, that the pocket isn’t overly big and that there’s nothing to secure it closed ( not even Velcro ), so the pocket is always open and there’s nothing to stop things falling out. This isn’t too much of a worry as I normally store it in my bag vertically and bottom down, and if I’m just carrying the sleeve around again the pocket will always be facing the right way.
There’s a number of options available that you can choose when ordering. Besides the boot material, it’s possible to get a pair of D-rings on either side of the sleeve. You can then add a strap to the sleeve to make it into a self contained mini messenger bag. You can also purchase a Piggy Back pouch which also attaches to the D-Rings that gives additional storage for peripherals like AC adapters or to throw your wallet and phone into.
So is it my Goldilocks of cases ? I really like it; it’s well made, durable and fits beautifully. Is it slim, sleek, and sexy ? Well it’s not the slimmest or sleekest case I’ve ever seen, but then does slim and sleek always equal sexy? Not in my humble opinion. Yep, Waterfield has got it “just right.”
My only suggestions would be perhaps a little less Velcro on the flap so that opening your sleeve is a bit more discreet; or even a different closing mechanism such as magnets and maybe use that excess Velcro to create a seal on the back pocket (or perhaps even a zipper) so you don’t have to worry so much about things falling out .
The biggest issue, I suspect that the case is going to be around looking good long after my Tablet becomes obsolete and has been retired. Here’s hoping my next tablet’s the same size .
I have no issues in highly recommending the Waterfield Ultimate Sleevecase to anyone with any tablet who’s looking for a well made, good looking, functional, and protective sleeve-style case.
Now just like Goldilocks, must be time for a little sleep