I recently traded in my 13″ MacBook Pro for an 11″ MacBook Air. I love my new Air, but I did have to give up using the ChillBed stand (see related posts) I’ve been using with the MBP because the front lip of the laptop stand was too high for the very thin front edge of the MBA. I missed the comfortable typing angle the laptop stand gave the keyboard. I was also thrilled that the MBA was small enough I could carry it in some of my purses, but I wanted a case to protect it in my bag. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled on a very cool new MacBook Air case from a company named Opt. They had just introduced a combination case and laptop lifter called the MagicQ, but I couldn’t find it for sale locally. Julie contacted them, and the folks at Opt were glad to send a review sample. I’ve been using it since the day I opened the package.
Most images in this review can be clicked for an larger view.
Opt offers the MagicQ in sizes to fit an 11″ MacBook Air, a 13″ MacBook Air, or a 13″ MacBook Pro. The case is available in black or orange. I asked for the orange. (The black is beautiful, too, but I thought the orange might be easier to photograph.) Folded up, the MagicQ measures 12.1″ X 7.6″ X 0.9″. Fully opened, it’s 18.85″ long, and it’s 13.25″ when folded for use. It weighs 11.1 ounces on my digital kitchen scale.
When I first saw the cases on Opt’s website, I thought they had a canvas or similar fabric exterior. It’s actually a rubbery plastic material that has thousands of little dimples in it. The material has a good grip, and I feel I can carry the laptop in the MagicQ case without any fear of dropping it.
The front has an angular flap with a Velcro closure. The only exterior branding is the metal Opt logo embedded in the cover at the bottom right corner.
You can see the front cover looks a lot like Apple’s Smart Cover for the iPad. Embedded in the front cover are hard strips of what I assume is plastic separated by areas where the exterior and interior fabrics are fused together. There are magnets in these strips to fold and hold the front into a triangular stand that looks like the folded iPad Smart Cover.
Unfortunately, the light orange material does pick up some stains. I tend to be obsessive about keeping my cases as nice as my gadgets, but you can see there’s a gray stain of some sort near the upper left corner. I can also see some darkening at the edges. I doubt this would show up so clearly on the black case.
The hard reinforcement piece on the back folds around to make two little sides to keep the MBA in place. You can see that all the ports are open and useable while the MagicQ is closed around the laptop. The microphone, which is situated just to the right of the headphone jack in the bottom picture (above) is behind the side piece. I don’t know of any instance when I’d be making a recording while the MBA is closed up in a case, though, so it doesn’t seem that this would be a problem.
These side pieces are very sturdy. I have turned the case up and tried to shake the Air out of the sides, but the sides hold it securely in place. (I did this over a bed, of course.)
Here are the two Velcro pieces used for the closure. This is different from the Velcro I usually see. It doesn’t have one rough “hook” side and one soft “loop” side. Both sides are hooks, and they hold together securely. They do make the characteristic riiippp sound when opened, but the pieces are small and open quickly.
Here the MagicQ is fully opened, with the Smart Cover-like side curling up against the back of my studio area. The interior lining is a gray microfiber material. There’s a black strip that seems to be made of the same rubbery material used for the exterior sewn across the reinforced back piece. This non-slip strip keeps your laptop from sliding off the stand while you are typing.
You’ll notice a short, raised lip near the back edge of the backing piece. This lip is made of the same hard, reinforcing material as the side pieces, and it keeps your laptop sitting firmly on the reinforced back piece while the case is closed up.
Here’s the MacBook Air sitting in the opened case. It is not attached to the case at all. It just sits in the “frame” created by the three raised plastic pieces. To close the case, you just wrap the two pieces over the front of the laptop and Velcro them together.
Here, I have the laptop’s hinge area resting on the triangular stand. You can see the front edge of the Air rests at the edge of the non-slip strip. I find the Air is very stable in this position. I can type without worrying the laptop is going to tip over backwards off the wedge. If you don’t like this angle for typing, you can slide the laptop further back on the wedge. Just keep the front edge on the non-slip strip. You can see here that the angular front flap serves as a sort of wrist rest. The Velcro is centered between my wrists as I type and shouldn’t scratch me, but I do fear it might snag my clothing if I’m wearing long sleeves.
My husband is typing on the Air in this photo.
And just as I’ve always wanted, my tiny laptop in its form-fitting Opt MagicQ case fits beautifully inside my Vera Bradley Bowler handbag. Granted, this isn’t the smallest purse I’ve used (14.5″ X 10.25″ x 5″), but it’s nice to have room for all my normal EDC stuff and still fit my laptop in the purse when I want it. The MagicQ is open at the sides, and I might normally worry that my keys or a pen would be able to poke in and scratch the Air, but I carry them inside a zipper pocket on the outside of the Bowler bag. I still have room for my iPad in the bag if I really want to carry both with me. (And notice how nicely the orange MagicQ complements the orange in the Canyon fabric used for the Bowler.)
The MagicQ is very convenient for traveling with your laptop. You can carry just the laptop in the case, or you can fit it in a bag or purse. You can use it as a laptop riser/stand on a tabletop to lift the keyboard to a comfortable typing angle and to allow air to circulate all around the laptop. You won’t have to worry that a soft surface you’ve set the laptop on will block the cooling vents, even if you set the laptop on a sofa cushion or your bed. You can use it on your lap, even without propping the laptop on the wedge stand, and the hard back of the MagicQ will offer some heat protection for your legs.
I absolutely love the MagicQ case, and I’m using it to support my MBA as I write this review. It does everything I want. It protects my MacBook Air in my bag or as a stand-alone case. It converts into a stand that raises my Air to an angle I find comfortable for both typing and for viewing the screen. It’s an attractive case, too, and it’s neither too masculine nor too feminine. The only thing I’d change? I’d want it in red, of course.